Are you looking to up your display game at your next craft or art show? Read on to find out where successful artists get their inspiration and a few tips for designing your display and staging your booth.
Artists and crafters often search Pinterest to spark ideas for creative displays. However, there are other excellent sources of inspiration readily available. Professional retail merchandisers work hard to lure people into a store and keep their interest piqued as they meander through the displays. The next time you are at the mall or department store, take note on how products are grouped and displayed. Is your artwork nautical in theme, does it capture the feeling of nature, or is it industrial? Spend the day at the seaside, in the woods, or in a manufacturing hub to get a sense of how best to set up your authentic display. Pay attention to shapes, patterns, colors, and textures you see. Use all your senses and take note of the scent, sounds, and in some cases even taste that will make the atmosphere in your booth come alive. If you find yourself at a farmers market or craft fair, do not just take notes or snap photos of displays you want to emulate. Jot down reminders of what it was that caught your eye as you strolled past. What drew you into the space? How did the environment of the booth and the artist showing their work make you feel?
As you are creating a more immersive experience and space, think about how you will transport and set up your display. You want to be able to get everything to your space and set up in the easiest way possible. The last thing you want is to be completely exhausted and depleted of energy before the show even starts. Casey Lynch, a paper cut artist, has participated in and even organized numerous shows. Over the years, she has developed a practice of having everything in her booth serve two purposes. She uses antique wooden sewing drawers as storage to move her artwork in and out of her art shows, and then during the show those drawers serve as displays for her artwork. She looks at everything she sees and thinks, “how can I use this besides its original intent.” Lynch says height is the most important part of your display. “Laying all your products flat on a table isn’t going to get anyone into your tent. You want people across the aisle to see what you’re selling and come closer.”
“The best displays feel like you’re walking into a living room, or you’re walking into a store. They have rugs in the middle of them; you’re walking through swag curtains to get into the tent,” says Lynch. She also points out the importance of branding and signage. “[The best displays] have plenty of signage, and everything is clearly marked and priced. They have noticeable brand colors all throughout and even use the same font.” Adding lighting to your display can serve two purposes. First, it helps to create that inviting ambiance Lynch describes. Second, it ensures your artwork is easily seen. Use soft, flattering lights in areas where people will be trying on your creations. Lynch also observes how crowds interact with tables and displays at flea markets. She suggests creating a traffic flow by putting two tables at the side of your booth and one in the back. Front and center could be a small table or display. That creates a natural flow through your booth or tent. Avoid overcrowding. Display your products in a way that encourages visitors to pick things up and touch them, the theory being that once they have it in their hands, they’re one step closer to a purchase. If people are worried about knocking something over, they will be less inclined to touch anything.
Getting your display just right is a work in progress. Test out different ideas to see what works best for you and your customers. Pay attention to how people are interacting with your products. Are they focusing on and interacting with certain items, but ignoring others altogether? Do not be afraid to move things around and make changes on the fly.
What are your best tips or biggest frustrations when it comes to designing and staging a craft fair or art show display that draws in customers?