Category: art supplies

Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 2

(Continuing Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 1, which featured the main items involved in an art display setup. Now for a closer look into the nooks and crannies of the display!)

9. Curtain Hooks – I used curtain hooks to support my framed pieces. Be sure to get the ones with the super sharp ends! I was not happy to find the first batch of hooks I bought were the blunted kind, which equaled much cursing and trying to stab a carpet with a blunt object and failing. ($2 a pack at Lowe’s)

10. Rotating Counter Rack – Great for the display of small prints or greeting cards and you can put a little sign on top. This particular rack has been with me for years now and has survived! ($35 at Displays2go)
11. Portfolios – I used an Itoya portfolio to display my large prints.  For the art cards, a simple trading card album worked well! ($5 – $11 at Hobby Lobby)

12. Print Bin – Actually a collapsible file box. Bottom comes out and it folds down, making it much easier to transport than my solid heavy print bin.  I’m thinking of replacing this with a much more rustic looking woven rectangular basket from Lowe’s (which is advertised as ‘closet storage baskets’). ($10 at Walmart)

13. Necklace Forms – I prefer the white ones as they show lint and dust less and my jewelry stands out against them. ($12 at Joanns, Hobby Lobby, and Michaels.)
14. 3 Tier Rotating Rack – These racks come with three levels of hooks which are great to display small items like bookmarks, keychains, earrings, and bracelets.  You can adjust the level of the tiers or remove them completely.  ($26 at Store Fixtures, USA)
15. Mannequin Head – This head came with pierced ears, making it great for displaying jewelry in addition to masks!  ($26 at Store Fixtures, USA).
16. Minion (aka. Mom) – Art fairs are sooo much easier if you can trick someone into working for you in exchange for food!  That way you can actually use the bathroom without having to burden your neighbors with watching your stuff while you run as fast as you can across the street to the poddy and back.  Minions also make load in and load out 200 x easier. (Priceless! I love my mum.)
17. Director’s Chairs – My family was already using these to stake out sporting events. They fold up for easy transport and are much more comfy than plain folding chairs.  The drink holder is handy as well if you don’t want to put your cup on uneven ground or on your table with your art. I think we got these chairs at Sam’s Club, but I am unsure.
18. 3 Tiered Plastic Magazine Rack – Great for books, prints, and anything roughly 8.5×11 in. shaped! ($30 from displays2go.com)

19. Visa/Mastercard Sign – A simple plastic sign used to notify customers that I take credit and debit cards. I printed it off on cardstock and slipped it into the stand. You’d be amazed at how comforted people are to know that you can accept plastic money! Many people don’t carry cash anymore, either because they prefer not to or because they’re trying to limit their budget. Accepting cards is a good way to be that evil influence prompting people towards impulse purchases. That sounds bad, but hey, it’s true! ($5 at Walmart or Staples)

20. Business Cards – Always ALWAYS have plenty of these on hand for customers (or for trading with your neighbors!) Networking is one of the biggest assets of actually venturing outside of your art cave and attending events!  I usually buy mine in 1k bulk packs from Vistaprint when they have special offers. They usually toss in a free pen or ink pad too, just watch that you don’t click to confirm any subscriptions during their lengthy checkout!  I hear redtagprintsale.com has some nice prices on biz cards, but haven’t tried them yet. (Roughly 10 cents per foil stamped card at Vistaprint.com)
21. Crushed Velvet Table  Cloth – This piece of material has been with me from the very beginning! It’s actually just an oversized piece of crushed velvet I got at the store when it went on sale. I’ve used it as a backdrop when photographing crafts, as a backdrop for hung pieces, and also as a way to cover up my table when I leave and don’t want people to be tempted by what’s left underneath. (Approx. $3 a yard on sale at Joanns Fabrics)

And that’s all for now!  I’m curious to see how my display will evolve over the next few events.
I’ll be sure to let everyone know once it has leveled up!

Back to Part 1

Anatomy of an Art Fair Display Part 1

So now for something completely different!  With the art fair season nearing and so many folks expressing their thanks for the usefulness of the Evolution of an Artist Alley Table posts, I thought it high time to post my art fair diagrams!

Mind, that this display is my very first setup and will probably change down the road as I learn, improve, and add things. Let this journal act as a record of where I began and hopefully as a tool for others looking into selling at fairs!

You might recognize some of these items and descriptions from the Artist Alley diagrams because I totally believe in re-using things where possible.

My first fair on Fayetteville’s courthouse square!

1. EZ Up Tent – This tent is a great first tent for those who don’t want to spend the $1k that most of the Craft Huts cost!  It can be set up by one person, is white (as per most art fair requirements), and fairly easy to transport in its included roller bag.  Here is a video on how to set it up with one person (because I didn’t find the included instructions very helpful).  Be warned, however, as this tent is light and is known for blowing away and wreaking havoc!  I snagged some velcro weight bags which you can fill with sand or gravel and that strap to the poles so people won’t trip over them. ($200 at Sam’s Club)

2. Retractable Vertical Banner – A pricey item, to be sure, but the fact I don’t have to carry around a big pvc pipe set nor have it taking up space in my car makes this item well worth it! This vinyl banner pulls out from and retracts back into a spring loaded base that is about as big as a tabletop easel and very lightweight. I’ve lashed it to the tent pole using velcro straps so it wouldn’t blow away. Mine was printed by my brother’s sign shop. ($300 at Graphic Signs Atlanta for stand with metal base. $100 for cheaper version at Staples)


3. Propanels – After much debate over whether to get carpet panels, roll up mesh panels (which are about half the price), or to jerry-rig my own from something, I decided to go all-out with Propanels. Mesh panels, while collapsible and therefore more transportable, were still about $1k after all was said and done.  I also can’t use mesh panels without the support of the tent’s rafters, whereas Propanels can stand on their own, making them useful for any cons or shows I do without a tent. The ‘knock down’ variety of panels pictured here can be split in half and transported far more easily than the full panels, even if I’m still having trouble fitting them in my teeny hatchback. ($2k from Propanels.com for the Booth A setup with Knock Down Panels plus required hardware. I owe my family favors for the rest of my life for this one. Ouch.)

4. Tables with Table Cloths – The two small display tables on the left of the picture are actually tail gating tables bought from Big Lots for cheap which fold up and have an easy carrying handle. They were super light, however, so I had to weight them down with objects on top. The table cloths were just scrap bits of material thrown on last minute, I admit. The larger table on the right is a white plastic table bought from Sam’s Club that folds up and can also be carried. It is a bit heavier than the tail gate tables and doesn’t really need to be weighted down. ($20 – $30 at Big Lots and Sam’s Club.)
5. Easel with Signage – The stand up easel was purchased at Joanns Fabrics and is just a simple cheap wooden one without any bells and whistles. The sign was printed on foam core by my publisher and was eventually replaced in this setup with a piece of framed art instead. I’m fairly sure you can get foam core signs like this at Kinkos or other printing places. ($10 at Joann’s Fabrics)

6. Folding Canvas Print Bin – This is the medium sized print bin available from Dickblick.  Prints ranging from 11×14 in. to 18×24 in. look best in it.  I noticed most people would stop and flip through it rather than venture into the tent. Note to self – MOAR flip through bins for people! Folks looove to browse through them for some reason. Folds up for easy transport. ($25 at Dickblick.com)


Stuff I forgot to include –  The Carpet – I like the idea of a carpet in a tent. It feels so much more cozy, as if you’re walking into a little shop!  It also made the ground a little more even for customers to walk on.  We also used it to lay items on while we were setting up so they wouldn’t get muddy.  My family picked this up in a flea market in Saudi Arabia years ago so I have no idea how much it costs.

This entry is going a bit long, so I’ll be breaking up this grand monologue on art fair display into parts.

Stay tuned for a closer look at the particular display items nestled within the tent next time!

Evolution of an Artist Alley Table II

Back in September of 2009, I posted a list of what goes into my display in an artist alley.  Now two years later and a few events wiser, my display has evolved!

Show them what they’ve won, Vanna!
Anatomy of an Artist Alley Table – Part 2
  1. Retractable Vertical Banner – $300 – A pricey item, to be sure, but the fact I don’t have to carry around a big pvc pipe set nor have it taking up space in my car makes this item well worth it! This vinyl banner pulls out from and retracts back into a spring loaded base that is about as big as a tabletop easel and very lightweight. Adds to my vertical appeal and allows people to notice me over the heads of the crowd. Mine was printed by Graphic Signs Atlanta.

    EDIT: I’m told Staples offers a cheaper $100 collapsible stand now too!

  2. Standing Easel – $13 – These simple wooden easels are great for propping large prints for that eye-catching vertical appeal!  I’ve been using these to prop the blow up of my book cover at book signings as well.  When I’m not promoting the book, this cover image will be replaced by a piece of art instead. Bought at Joanns Fabrics and Crafts.
  3. Gridwall Cubes – $30 –  Also called wire cube storage. These have been with me since the beginning! I use them to clip prints, mousepads, and prints to, though I’m looking for an alternative display method for the masks currently. The wire distracts from their detail so I’m either going to cover them with fabric or buy some gridwall hook attachments that project from the wall so the masks can be placed on them some distance from the grid instead. Found mine at Target.
  4. Mannequin Head – $40 – Affectionately named Shay, she helps bring more visibility to my masks and other artisan crafted items! Her ears are pierced so I can add earrings as well as display a necklace and a mask all on the same head.  Found her at Store Fixtures, USA.
  5. Visa/Mastercard Sign – $5? – A simple plastic sign used to notify customers that I take credit and debit cards. I printed it off on cardstock and slipped it into the stand.  You’d be amazed at how comforted people are to know that you can accept plastic money!  Many people don’t carry cash anymore, either because they prefer not to or because they’re trying to limit their budget. Accepting cards is a good way to be that evil influence prompting people towards impulse purchases. That sounds bad, but hey, it’s true!  Can’t recall where I got this sign and how much it was, but it couldn’t have been more than $5 and probably came from Walmart or Staples.
  6. Basic Tabletop Easels – $5? – You can probably find these even cheaper if you buy plastic instead of metal.  In my case, I was actually using a small metal easel used for displaying antique dinner plates.  Great for propping up items like prints and books again for that vertical eye-catching appeal!  It’s harder for people to notice your work if it’s all lying flat on the table, especially where there are big crowds.  Can’t recall where we got these at, but probably Staples or Walmart.

  7. Horizontal Vinyl Banner – Price varies per footage – Another item that’s been with me from the beginning. Even though I have the nice vertical signs, I still like to hang this out in front so the front of my table doesn’t look too boring.  It was a little too big to hang behind me anyways and was rather overpowering my display! It looks much better hanging out in front. Printed at Graphic Signs Atlanta.
  8. Itoya 11×14 Display Portfolio – $11 – I had a small 5×7 portfolio on the table to show off my work and to make room for more items, but people kept passing it by!  Eventually opted for this imposing portfolio which prompted more people to stop and flip through.  I also had a sign up sheet and business cards tucked into the plastic pocket at the front so people could leave with ways to be reminded of my existence.
  9. Trading Card Album – $5? – This small album housed ACEO and ATC organized into open edition, original, and limited edition settings. They represent my affordable offerings for the casual buyers who may not want to invest in large items, but don’t mind dropping a few bucks on cute collectible cards.  Bought from Michaels.
  10. Print Bin – $10 – Actually a collapsible file box. Bottom comes out and it folds down, making it much easier to transport than my solid heavy print bin, which now serves as a permanent inventory housing item here at home.  Found at Walmart.
  11. Greeting Card Rotating Countertop Rack – $35 – Another item I’ve had from the beginning! It is sometimes replaced by a standalone rack that sits in front of my table, but I can’t use that one on a regular basis because some shows are picky about you having items in front of your table that folks might trip on.  Little children also like to spin it until it falls on their heads!  This smaller rack houses my 5×7 and matted 4×6 prints.  Purchased from Displays2go.
  12. Binder Clips (40 pk) – $5 – Oh the many uses of binder clips!  I used them to clip the prints to the grid, to hold my banner to the table, and for fiddling with when I’m bored. They make nice talking finger puppets!  I prefer the gold variety as it looks a bit more decorative than the silver. Found at Staples.
  13. Crushed Velvet Table Cloth – $8 a yard – A mysterious number 13 I forgot to number in my photo! This silver cloth serves a multitude of purposes. First, it covers up the hideously distracting plain tabletops, is large enough to cover the entire display when you have to leave (if you have two on hand), and can also serve as backdrops for photographing products!  Velvet is great, as I’ve mentioned in previous photography tutorials.
Alternate Displays
While the aforementioned display works well for events where I’m mostly selling art, some events require a different setup to accommodate my more crafty items!
Flashback to Faerie Escape Atlanta, 2010!
The only thing that’s different here is the inclusion of a metal jewelry tree and velvet necklace, which helped bring a level of professionalism to my items that laying them flat on the table didn’t.
Metal Jewelry Tree – $20? – Mine was a Christmas present from the family so I have no clue where they bought it! I’ve seen some creative takes on the jewelry tree where people have taken branches from a real tree, cleaned them up, and shaped them to suit their needs. Then jewelry is hung off them with little leaf-shaped tags for an organic theme.
Velvet Necklace Forms – $2 – These velvet covered neck forms really make for a stylish addition to any craft table.  I bought mine at Joanns, but have found bigger ones for longer necklaces at Dawson Jones for $12.
That’s it for now! I’m currently transitioning my display to fit an art fair booth setup, so expect posts on this topic sometime in the future!

The Secret of the Kneaded Eraser

They’re squishy and funny and oh-so magical! They’re the kneaded eraser (or kneaded rubber, depending on where you’re from). I was first introduced to these little beauties in college, where they were required supplies for all freshmen art students. At first, I was confused by this blob of grey. What good could this vaguely marshmallow smelling glop do? And then, somehow, after erasing with it, the graphite would magically disappear as I pulled and squished the eraser with a baker’s fervor!

The Secret?
Kneaded erasers are a type of rubber which has been left in its uncured (or unvulcanized) state. Rubber as an industrial material is usually cured with pumice or other substances to make it hard and more durable for use as tires, erasers on pencils, etc. And to think, we were once using bread as erasers before smart forest folk came along and discovered the uses of tree rubber!

The Uses of the Kneaded Eraser
A kneaded eraser has a thousand and one different uses. Here are some of the more popular uses.

Erasing – The primary use. Kneaded erasers are great for lifting up charcoal and lightening color pencil and graphite pencil lines. They’re not known for being able to erase heavy lines due to their softness, but they’re great for creating faded lines and soft effects.

Bouncy Balls – You can roll it into a ball and bounce it around when you’re bored! It’s not abnormally good at bouncing in any predictable direction, but hey when you’re bored, anything is entertaining!

Lewd Sculptures – Once the bouncy ball has ceased to be entertaining, you can make two of them to form a silly pair of eyeballs that look like bewbies! Or try your hand at trying to make a tiny person! Only the most awesome of kneaded eraser sculptors have been able to achieve this monument to miniatureism. You can even have a kneaded eraser tea party!

Pranks – Stick it in someone’s chair for a laugh. There’s nothing like an eraser stuck to someone’s bum to tickle your funny bone! Warning!: you should only do this to friends as a stranger that’s bigger than you might take offense!

Stress Relief – Pretend the eraser is the head of someone you are really annoyed by! Stretching, tearing, pulling it apart, and threatening to torture it if it should refuse to tell you the location of the rebel base are great ways to de-stress AND to clean your eraser at the same time!

Warning, however, that these erasers are not immortal (just nearly). Once they become dark and hard, they are too saturated with graphite to work and may actually leave marks instead of erasing them! An article writer on wikipedia suggests washing the eraser in dish-washing liquid, but I have yet to try this myself.

So what have you done with your kneaded erasers, these days?

SOURCES:
http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/kneaded+eraser

http://www.answers.com/topic/eraser

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kneaded_eraser