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Art Shows and Festivals - The Professional Way

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 7/15/2010 9:44:05 AM

This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

I thought that my last post would finalize the series on venturing into art fairs and festivals but in the last few days I couldn't stop thinking that something was missing. Well, maybe not just one thing, but it occurred to me that I cannot simply close it off by the DIY display systems. I have to give a stage to the more professional ways available out there.

So I decided the best way to present it is by quoting one of our constant readers and frequent commenter, Sandy Askey-Adams, who, throughout the entire series, continues to remind us of the importance of being professionals, invest in proper display systems and canopies, by speaking from her own experience of over 28 years doing art shows.

On outdoor art shows:

"Listen to those with the experience of doing the outdoor art shows for many years. They do know what they are talking about because of their experience. They were also once starting out and know the pitfalls of a less than right set up."

"It is possible to make a living at this. Why do you think so many do it? At one day art show I made $10,000 before noon time. That amount is unusual in that short of a time, but I have heard of other artists making from $20,000 and up (in a weekend with two or three day show)."

Some websites for outdoor art shows:

         ZAPP (

         Juried Art Services (

         Sunshine Artist Magazine (


On display systems:

"You will not see them using less than quality display systems. THEY know what attracts people to their booths...besides the art."

"If an artist wants to break into the art show circuit, do not cut corners. It shows and takes away the importance of the overall art work and professionalism."

 "If one goes half-way (some go less than even half-way) on setting up a display system then you will not get into the higher quality art shows where an artist can, and most do, make a good income. The better art shows are better advertised and more people with money to spend on art attend them."

"One should take pride in not only their art, but the way they display it. When doing the outdoor art shows, that display is just as important."

"Maybe for anyone thinking of starting the outdoor art shows, they will know now that they may have to put some of that extra money aside to use for racks and a decent canopy (if one can find extra money with this economy)."

"The best investment is in a great professional and attractive looking display system and a canopy for proper protection of your art work."

"Make your display system as presentable and inviting as possible. Hang up photos of your working process."

"I do hang up a lot of my art work because I have a lot of work; and I do this for a living. Some say hang work sparingly...well, you follow your 'gut feeling' of how and what to hang. Do not listen to anyone who tells you to hang less work. It depends upon HOW you present the work, be it a lot or not. You do what works best for you."

"There are shows that jury your set up too (besides your art) which includes the look of your display system and canopy. Do keep that in mind. You will eventually need the right panels, the right look to get into those types of juried shows. Those are usually the shows with the biggest crowds and the most sales also... Hmmm, and the highest entry fees. And very, very professional looking display systems. You will not find Home Depot stuff there."

"I had done one of the largest and the oldest outdoor art show in the U.S. at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. It is high professional, juried work and displays. Tough show to get into. That display system means a lot in the jurying too. Points are deducted if not right and those points that are deducted can keep you out of the show."

"As far as the display panels go, if I were just now buying panels, I would invest in the ones that look like they have carpeting on them, they are the best and are gorgeous and come in different colors."

Web sites for display systems:

         Graphic Display Systems (

         Armstrong Products ( - this one has coverings that look like carpeting and make a gorgeous presentation.

         Flourish mesh panels (

         Pro Panels (


On canopies:

"Do not buy the EasyUp tent because it will not hold up to the high winds or heavy rain. When and if they do, consider yourself fortunate."

"Yes, it is easy to set up, but in a very heavy and serious rain storm, it could collapse. I have seen many, many of that type of tents collapse. About a year ago, there were about 7 tents like that set up in a row and all but one totally collapsed. Leaking? Yes, but collapsing is also a good possibility. Why do artists continue to buy this type of tents? Because they are cheap and easy to set up. They are fine if the weather predicts an all sunny forecast."

"I have the TrimLine Canopy (from Flourish ? MM). It has skylights and awnings which I can put on the front or on the sides when I hang work on the sides. My canopy is a 10' x 10' that can re-adjust into a wonderful 10' x 15'. They also make 10 x 20's. When I get two spaces (which are usually 10' x 20') I use the 10' x 15' with room to set up my table on the side."

"Sometimes you can find one of those type canopies for sale at a good price by an artist who does no longer want to do the outdoor art shows. Keep an ear open."

Web sites for canopies:

         Flourish (

         Art Display Central (

         Sunshine Artist Magazine's ?  Tents and Canopy Services  


About dress code:

"When you dress successful, look successful, you become and are successful. A successful look breeds success and look much more impressive than a white t-shirt and shorts thrown on."

"I have seen men artists at shows dressed very well and they really have been among the most successful. It carries through."

I want to thank Sandy again for all the valuable comments! Thank you Sandy!

And instead of signing with my usual "Cheers, Moshe", I will sign this time ala-Sandy-style?


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Related Posts:

My First Art Fair Checklist

My First Art Fair Checklist - Follow Up

Art Display Systems for Art Festivals

Topics: inspiration | sell art 

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Michael Cardosa

Thank you (and Sandy) for putting together such a comprehensive post on proper displays and other data for doing outdoor shows. I will not only keep this one, I've printed it to put in my files for later reference.

Thanks again,


Carole Rodrigue
I am flabbergasted that someone can make that much money! I've never considered doing an outside show event, although some have been recommended to me. It's not something in my immediate future either, but maybe in a year or so. I wonder though, are the sale mainly from original art or other products such as prints and novelties?

Excellent article Moshe, and thanks for sharing!

Carol Schmauder
Thank you for reiterating these points on outdoor shows. I am implementing some of the tips as I do some outdoor shows this summer.

Marsha Hamby Savage
Thanks Moshe -- and Sandy! Very valuable information.

I visited Sandy and saw all the artwork she does and how much she devotes to her business doing these outdoor shows -- and other indoor shows as well. She is a professional and it shows in her work, her work ethics and her determination.

Anyone wishing to do the outdoor circuit of shows would be well advised to follow her advice.

Kyle V Thomas
I am looking to sell my display tent. I have a 10'x10' Trimline booth with mesh panels and pro-gallery covers. The complete system. I've used it for only two outdoor festivals and it is in very good condition. If anyone is interested, please drop me an e-mail.

Sandy Askey-Adams

Thank you. You flatter me by posting all that. But, how well you summarized it and put it together into a 'readable' list.

Carole....your question was, "are the sales from original works or other products such as prints and novelities."

Most are original works that sell.
I do have limited edition giclee prints, but find that I sell far, far more original work.

TO be honest, I do not sell that many prints because the clients/collectors/customers all tell me they want and prefer to buy original work.

Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show, Philadelphia, PA which is the oldest outdoor art show in the U.S. is ONLY an ALL original art show. An artist could be kicked out of the show if they try to sell prints or notepaper/notecards, etc. in that show.

Wickford, R. I. art show was an all original art show until last year.
The prints MUST BE limited edition and kept in the portfolio bin and NOT framed.
However, the people still buy originals more than the prints there.
BTW, Some Fine Art Shows do not allow novelities as a rule meaning no note paper, etc.. and things like that.

I have an artist friend who just came back from an art show selling 49 smaller size paintings at a Pennsylvania weekend show. His work is great and due to the economy, his prices are very, very reasonable for his miniature works. It was the best show he had there. He was wise in the size he did thinking economy, economy and it paid off well for him.

Best to can be done. There would be no artists doing these outdoor art shows if it did not pay off.


HelenHorn Musser
Moshe, This is very good to have all of this information for shows outdoor and festivales. Thank you, Sandy, for all your input for this post and all the links to find professional gear. This is a keeper for sure.

Joan Terrell
Top notch info Moshe and Sandy and thank you so much for it. Am wondering if there are rental companies whose main focus is setting up, breaking down for outdoor art shows. Would love to be able to have someone hoist those heavy tents and such for me - not to mention not having to store and transport tents and displays. Plus, am wondering if similar info could be provided for tentless indoor shows.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Oh, another thing..Some of the outdoor art shows also give awards. AND some of those awards come not only with ribbons, but money.
Money can be $250....$300.00 depending upon the show, the award placement, whatever category.
OF course some give lower monetary awards too.
And some give along with an award of automatcally being back in the show without being juried for the following year.

That is a great tent that Kyle is selling.

Filomena Booth
Thank you for a great article! As a former juror at one of the best outdoor art shows in the DFW area, we have had to reject many artists based solely on their display slides.

Any artist who is considering the art show circuit would do well to go to several shows, take notes and follow the example of successful artists. A foldout table and granma's old tablecloth will guarantee an automatic rejection, no matter how well executed the work.

Carole Rodrigue
Sandy, thank you so much for all the info!

George De Chiara
Thank you Moshe and Sandy for such wonderful information! Doing outdoor art shows is something I want to try in the future. I would love to hear more information on the some of the other aspects to this, like lighting your booth, what do you do with your booth at night?, handling credit cards and checks, etc.


Esther J. Williams
If I ever decide to branch out and enter art shows back east, I will keep this information as it is important to know. But for my area, southern CA, all outdoor art shows are held in the summer months. The only thing we need a canopy for is shade. I have considered a show in Palm Springs in March and they look at the displays I believe. Thanks Sandy for your expert advise. I did professional shows back east when I designed leather apparel, the money was flowing in the 1970s for an upstart craftsman like myself.
Now, I do dress well for my art shows. One other thing I have been paying attention to is my framing, professional, quality frames really show the art in the best light. I have an outdoor art show next weekend and here I go again, buying frames!

Sandy Askey-Adams
You are so welcome Carole and Joan......and Hello George....

Yes, there are many other aspects when doing the outdoor art shows.
There are artists who set up lighting if they know the show runs into the evening by using batteries, etc.. with very presentable lighting. It is becoming more popular now even for use during the day.

Credit cards: Do not do an outdoor or indoor art show without a credit card set up. You can find one that offers a lower percentage. There are companies who offer credit card set ups. They often go to the art shows looking for artists.
An artist friend of mine just gave up her credit card system. So, what happened at the first art show she did without it? She lost a couple of sales because the people wanted to use credit cards. One was a large sale that she lost.
We are a working business just like any other business at the art shows and people expect artists to take credit cards.

Checks: I prefer this or cash, so when someone asks me what I prefer, I tell them. I get their name, address, email, telephone number and license when accepting checks.
I also get their address, etc..when taking credit cards. In all the many years of doing the art shows, I have never had a problem with taking checks. (Knocking on wood here)

What to do with booth at night??
There are artists who let their work in their booth ovrenight when there is especially security. Some shows provide security, but it is still left at your own risk and you sign the agreement when signing up for the art show.
With a good canopy set up, it is much easier to leave your work overnight.
I have to admit, I do not always let all of my work overnight.
You will also see some artists lay carpeting on the ground to help avoid moisture and plus it looks great.
Some artists drape coverings over top of their work when they leave it.
Oils and acrylics are easier to leave overnight, but it is matting on watercolors or pastels that can buckle if mositure gets to it.


Maureen Sharkey
Thanks so much, MM!!

I really mean it!-- I am going to be in my first art fair (they are supplying the tent--but the rest is up to us--display panels, etc.)this mid August. It feels spookily (if that's a word) like you are my Guardian Angel. What a coincidence that you would be having these articles now--when I need it so much!

After reading all the options so very carefully, I just may go with what you did--(money and time constraints)and use a mesh panel to hang art from--sounds logical--as long as I have a strong attachment to the support poles.

Thanks again! --and now I'm putting more thought into what I will be wearing--when I see a guy in an expensive suit--I think automatically that he is a success--success breeding success. And I hope I make 10 grand by noon like you did! But on that--I actually plan on just handing my card w/ photo of painting on it, print forms for interested people to fill out, so if I do get a sale--I can put their credit card thru on Pay Pal the next day (after I set up a Pay Pal account, of course), and hand deliver the painting or giclee ordered print, later.

Carol Schmauder
Sandy: I am thankful you mentioned covering the paintings at night. I am a watercolorist and will leave my paintings in my booth overnight for the festivals I am involved with this summer and I think draping the paintings sounds like a good idea.

George De Chiara
Hi Sandy,
Thanks so much for sharing so much information with us! All great stuff.


Donna Robillard
Thanks for all the good information. It is more enticing to walk into a booth that is professional looking instead of one that is just thrown together. That also goes with the dress of the artist. After all we are professionals, and we need to dress like we are proud of our profession.

Sandy Askey-Adams
You may want to try putting something on the ground also..if you have a tarp, plastic or whatever to help prevent the moisture from the ground going up toward the art.

A lot of artists do that and it seems to work too.


tom weinkle
Moshe, thanks for organizing all the learnings. And thanks to Sandy for jumping in.

I have one other site to add for artist show and entry listings...

Sandy Askey-Adams
You are all welcome.
My pleasure to share. When I started out, it was trial and error and so much I had to experience myself.
It feels good to be able to share and give other's who may be starting to do the shows several steps up.
As I think of other things, I will post them here...and there is still a lot, but you have the basics.
Remember those business cards too. Hand them out. When I see people interested in my work, I ask them if they want a card and 9 times out of 10, they do. Even though they are hanging up, beleieve it or not, some people are actually a bit shy to reach for them. Unlike the children who attend the shows with their parents who have a game of gathering business cards from the exhibitors.
AND also remember, greet them and tell about your work. No one else is going to talk about your work, your technique, your medium. It is called marketing and selling at an art show and it really helps. You will be able to tell who is truly interested in hearing or not.

Moshe has done such a great job with these articles on doing the outdoor art shows. A great idea he had for sharing it all.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Oh...A sense of humor at the shows goes a long way too. People LOVE to laugh and they relax so much more easily if you say some things to make them laugh...and they buy faster. I highly recommend it. But without forcing it it on.

Carol Schmauder
Thanks Sandy. I will definitely add a tarp to my list of things to take.

Linda Young
Having been accepted as an emerging artist last week for the 35th Annual Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show (Pa.) scheduled for Aug 21st and 22nd I found your posts extremely helpful. I had already purchased a well-made canopy from a successful exhibiting artist last year who passed away one year later. I feel extremely lucky to be able to set up a professional display of my work for this my first show. As stated before by other artists, I will keep a copy of your suggestions and helpful tips. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and experience with us. I know I've got a lot to learn and prepare for by show time.

Justin Strom
This post is wonderful. I have just started purchasing and getting ready for shows next year. This post has helped out so much cause before I was just going at it alone. Thanks so much!

Sandy Askey-Adams
A small world indeed.
I am in the Mt. Gretna Art Show. Spaces 134 and 135. Pastels. I use my 15 foot canopy at this show.
Last year I won an award so I did not have to be juried this year.
The people who run this show are really nice and very professional.
I do not know where your space is...but I want to warn you that WHEN this show gets rain, it can be pretty bad,,,, so be prepared in case.
They have straw available to lay on the ground. I hate the straw because it makes the booth all look like stables or smell like one. BUT, a necessary evil with all the mud that the rain causes. You will probably notice bales of hay sooner or later once arriving at the show.
ALSO, if you are not letting your work there in your canopy overnight after you set up on Friday, get there as early as possible in the morning to take your work to your display. Most artists put their work in theid displays which makes it easier the next morning.
I do not. Although if the weather forecast is decent, maybe I will put the boxes in the center of the display overnight on the dolly.
It can be a fiasco there when it comes to taking down at the end of the show too. With that many artists trying to get their vehicles lined up to load them up, well, you can just imagine. They line up and are directed into the area or street closest to their takes a whole heck of a lot of patience.
I am in a different space this year than usual, so I do not know what to expect. My space is suppose to be beside Princeton Avenue.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Another thing....if starting to do the shows, you will need a good sturdy dolly for carting your work back and forth. A good one makes it so much easier.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Linda... just a quick note..
I use to live in Camp Hill, Pa. Now live in Bucks County, PA. Not far from Philadelphia.
Most of my family live in Camp hill, Or Mechanicsburg, or Enola,,,,or around that area.
I am doing the Lititz,PA one day art show in a couple weekends coming up. If you are not doing this show, you should do it next year.
I do belong to the Harrisburg Art Association. Many decades ago when I lived there, I use to play piano at their art exhibits. Took some art classes there too.

Max Hulse
Moshe You have given us more pertinent
and useful information about outdoor art
shows than I thought was out there.

After your first article I thought there
was nothing left to say, but you said it

Nice job.
Max Hulse

Phil Lachapelle
Moshe's article is quite comprehensive.
The successful people in the travelling art business are true "roadies". They have their booth setup down to a system. All methods of processing sales payment are covered. Canopy setup, erection of ProPanels, hanging of artwork is all systemized. The vehicle they have (usually a panel truck) is compartmentilized for easy unload at setup and efficient loading when they strike the exhibit.
Through their travels they have developed rapport and cooperation with show managers.
Result: Good to excellent booth locations most of the time.
Most have excellent artwork and have developed an extensive list of collectors who look forward to their annual appearance at these shows.
Manu shows give you 3 hrs to setup. Unless you are organized and efficient you will be a sweating mess by the time the show officially opens. And don't forget, you've got to get your vehicle our of the lane in front of your booth space in 30 minutes.
You should have someone to help you at setup and strike.
One well run show I participated in for four years added wine tasting and several bands for entertainment. The show became a social gathering. Attendance was high and my booth was usually full. There were many compliments but few sales. Other artists provided the same reaction. In order to comply with complaints from business owners, the organizers also changed the regulations requiring half the booths to be oriented away from the street and facing store fronts. Manu exhibitors left the show.
Conclusion, examine the regulations closely so that you are not blindsided by a hidden paragraph.
Wine tasting brings out the people, but think twice abour whether they are attending the show to look at art or showing off their finery while sipping a glass of merlot.

Kathy Chin
Wow, thanks to both of you for the Fantastic information!!! I have done some shows, but did not have much luck. Sandy, how do you choose a new show to enter? Obviously many shows say "art" shows, but often there are lots of other things being sold. Many times the only things selling are the food and the latest "cute" whirlygig that everyone decides they absolutely must have. How do you know when a show is "serious?" I too am in Southern California and haven't really seen any (except in the Palm Springs area) that I would classify as serious.
Thanks again!

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Marsha...

Thank you so much for your kind comments Marsha...and the Thumbs Up.
Coming from you means so much since you are an amazing artist and business woman.

You all should see the art packages, booklets, newsletters, brochures, etc that Marsha puts together for her collectors. Which also is used to attract other collectors to her beautiful work!!
All of that could be very useful and helpful for doing the outdoor art shows too.

If any of you have any questions at all about anything relating to the outdoor art show circuit, please ask me. There is so much information that can be shared.


Sandy Askey-Adams

Choosing an art show to do.Hmmm.....Investigate first and ask around.

Go to the zapplication web site and join it......I had given the web site in other posts and Moshe posted it again with all the other information that I had mentioned in another posted article.
Juried Art Services web site is another one...and I think Tom had given another one too.
Also Sunshine Artist Magazine.
These places give the name of art shows throughout the U.S.

If you belong to a local art organization, they should be able to tell about the outdoor art shows. IF they don't then they should get on the ball do that also for their members.

Many art leagues/organizations hold their own outdoor art shows. Some of them have huge outdoor art shows and invite non-member artists from surrounding areas.
ALSO, some towns hold art shows and you can find out by checking with your Town Chamber of Commerce.

Kathy... you also asked how one knows when a show is serious.
When they JURY their artists is a sure sign of a serious art show.
When you do any old art show that also includes low quality crafts like knitted items, and painted buckets and washboards, etc...that type of thing...then don't expect much in the way of sales because people do not have the mind set to re-adjust their thinking from the low cost crafts to the more costly fine art works. This type of show is NOT SERIOUS and an artist should not participate in such a show. It is a waste of time. Obviously there is no kind of a jury system happening.

Hoping I have answered your question Kathy.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello again..
Protection of art work while traveling to and from outdoor art shows...what to put the art in???

If you are doing an outdoor art show, have you taken into consideration what you will put your art work into for protection?

If you order frames from frame companies, they send the frames in boxes..that is if you ordered JOINED frames which I always do. Those boxes come in handy and I can put two paintings (back to back always) in each box setting the boxes upright in the cargo van that I use. You will get boxes according to the size frames you order.

YET, ANOTHER way of protecting your framed paintings is to make covers out of padded or doubled fabric in certain sizes. I also have some of those. A fabric store has padding that is used for mattress covers. Put it in the inside. Make it like a large envelope. You can use velcro too or just buy large safety pins for pinning it closed.

AND ALSO....Bubble wrap works well. You can make bags out of it or just wrap each painting with it.,,but wrapping each painting takes time and is a pain to do. Better to make varied size bags to put the paintings in. You can also buy some bubble wrap bags too for smaller works.

Speaking of smaller works, you can also put the miniatures into a regular plastic bin that you can buy at home depot with carboard inbetween each framed painting.

I have also made my own bags to put the larger pieces inside. It is lined with bubble wrap on the inside. I was able to order a roll of it from a bubble wrap company and then I measured and cut it to size permanently stapling and taping each side. Then I just slip each painting into the well protected bag.

Black portfolios can work, but are expensive. I was fortuante to have been able to get about 24 medium size black portfolios that hold only one painting in that particular size, but it has a handle and a front flap that closes. They are great and you will not find them in any art supply catalog or store. They came from Europe and a company here in the area I live wanted to get rid of thoses he had in stock. They were the only one's he had!! I told him he could make a fortune with them if he sold them to artists. I SO WISH THEY CAME LARGER TOO.


Carol Schmauder
I make my painting protectors out of retired quilted bed covers and out of thick towels. I was able to make covers for my 32" x 40", two to a queen sized cover. The covers protect a large investment in frames.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Thank you everyone for all the great comments, and especially Sandy for your flow of information, it is inspiring!

I probably will move on to other subjects in my next posts, but it seems like this topic can be a whole blog by itself...

Couple of other notes:
- at the specific show I was in, the Credit Card processing was available for the network members by the network. So that was great, I didn't have to worry about that. Only to get my vendor permit (check locally to see if you need one where you sell).
- The show suggested for all artists to take their art overnight. They had security but it was only on the tents, not the content.
- Weights and stakes were mentioned once... we had the show in a park that had gas lines underground, so the city didn't allow any stakes to hold the tents. So we had to use weights.

That is for now,

Linda Young
I wasn't aware of the Lititz show; I'll put it on my calendar for next year. Is it a juried show?


Joyce Durkin
Artists would do well to heed Ms. Askey-Adams' advice. I was the president of the Lititz Village Art Association here in southeastern PA for many years; our organization hosts an annual outdoor art show each July that Ms. Askey-Adams shows at. She is one of the most sought-after of our vendors and multiple award-winner. Her professionalism and courtesy are second to none. One of our members had the great good fortune to be placed beside her booth at another venue and found her to be a wealth information and assistance. She is a generous spirit and generous with her help and advice as well as a delight to know - not to mention her outstanding artwork. She is a professional through and through.
Anyone interested in the Village Art Association or the summertime art show is encouraged to visit our website:

Linda Young
Thanks for the information, Joyce.

Sandy, I'm a member of Harrisburg Art Association also, and I am from and living in Carlisle. At Mt. Gretna, I will be on Pennsylvania Avenue #3. I noticed your space 134 and 135 is perpendicular to where I will be and yours looks like a great spot. The emerging artists are given a ten foot space so yours will look like an arena compared to mine! I'm happy to get my foot into the door there, regardless. I will have a suitable floor for clients to walk upon under my canopy (in case it rains) and have also purchased a good dolly to maneuver things around. I am fortunate to be able to be staying with a friend who lives at Mt. Gretna on the other side of the lake. I hope to see you at Mt. Gretna. Once again, thank you Sandy.

:D Linda

Phyllis OShields Fine Art
This was a great follow up on the professional type systems. I am looking forward to purchase of one of your suggested dealers in the next month. Can't tell you how many of these set ups I have seen fly into the wind in Florida winter shows, wind and rain that comes up quickly. The canopy attachment is critical also.

thanks Phyllis O'Shields Fine Art

Sandy Askey-Adams
Carol, that is a great idea about the quilted bed covers. I have paintings about that size once framed and will look for that way of protective covering also. THANK YOU!

ALWAYS something new to learn.

Linda...I am not sure about the map they show for Mt. Gretna on their web site because that particular map shows my space along side the path and back to back, BUT, I was told that my spaces are along side Princeton Avenue. At least the last time I looked at the map that shows on their web site, it showed the wrong space area where I was assigned.
My space use to be along side the path.
The woman (Linda is her name also) who runs the show is very thoughtful and nice.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Joyce!

Thank you so much for your kind compliment. That is something that I am going to copy and keep in my "Nice things about the outdoor art shows" folder.
That meant so much to me.

A note to everyone....
The Lititz Art Show is one of my favorite art shows. Always has been. It is very well ran and because it is ran by artists,
there is wonderful understanding, comradship and caring toward their fellow artist exhibitors. If I lived closer to their art organization, the Village Art Association, I would join it and be active in it. Http://
Their show is held in a very lovely park also. A WEll organized art show.

I have always said that when an art show is ran by artists, it will be among the best of shows.

If not ran by artists, even if an art show puts one or two artists on their board when running an art show, that makes a difference...or if they at least consult and seek advice from artists who have done shows, it will make a difference.
Some shows hand out sheets to their exhibiting artists to answer questions of what they can do to make their show better.

WIckford, R. I. show is ran by artists. The Rittenhouse Square Art Show is ran by artists...and there are others.

Thank you again Joyce so much.
Gosh, Lititz is getting closer. :) Guess I had better go paint. Started a painting yesterday which needs finished.

George De Chiara
That's a great idea on how to protect your frames. So simple. Thanks for sharing it. Now where did I put those old sheets...

Sharon Weaver
Keep up the good info and advise. I have learned a lot from these discussions about outdoor art fairs.

Carol Wontkowski
Thank you, thank you, Moshe, for the articles on setting up at art shows. I have done some one day shows but have been seriously thinking about entering a weekend show. You have provided valuable and much needed information for artists like me, who are new to this type of venue, and would like to give it a shot.

Great topic and article, Moshe. I totally agree that a really professional setup is the way to go.

Years ago I did the Harrisburg show and unfortunately one of the staff members drove a golf cart right through my booth - it was totally destroyed. With the insurance money, I bought a top of the line tent from Flourish with all the bells and whistles. It was fantastic - they have a great product and provide excellent customer service as well.

Sandy Askey-Adams
I am so shocked with what happened to you at the Harrisburg Art show. I am assuming it is the Hbg. show in Pennsylvania.
Whew, what an experience that would have been.
I grew up in that area and tried their two outdoor art shows hoping that it would have been worthwhile. Did it although I had been warned that it was not that good of a show for Fine art artists (paintings, etc.).
I had hoped that it would be good because I live in the Bucks County area (suburbs of Philadelphia)...and most of my family live in Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, I would not have to pay room and board if it was a show worthwhile. Not having to pay romm and board is a very good thing.
They had even given me the honor of using my art work on the Billboards in town and on their t-shirts and other advertisements. It certainly made me feel good that they did that and I thought it would have helped my sales. It did not. Sigh. Only sold a few things.
Do you happen to still do the show? It is a large show on Labor Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend.
I think the crafts people do far better there than the artists. I was surrounded by crafts and everyone was extremely nice to have as neighbors. Loved that about that show.
Other artists have told me they do not do that well there. Lots of prints in the show too. I am hoping that changes or has changed. I so wanted that show to be a huge success for me. I will tryit again if I hear of it improving for the fine artist. Maybe I did not give it enough time only doing it that one year. The people who run it are very nice though and try to oblige the exhibitors.
AND I know that one should try a show more than once to get a true and good handle on it...and to get your work known and more established.

I use the trimline canopy (Flourish) with all the bells and whistles. Mine also can convert from a 10 x 10 to a 10 x 15. I use the 10 x 15 at Lititz, PA and Mt. Gretna, Pa show.

Sandy Askey-Adams
BTW everyone...

TO get reviews or ratings on which outdoor art shows may be the better one's to apply for, the Sunshine Artist magazine gives ratings on the art shows throughout the U.S..
Years ago, they had asked me if I wanted to be a reporter for the Pennsylvania area and also cover the shows I participated was hard to turn them down because I wanted to, but felt that I did not have the time to devote. In doing that, I felt that to do a good job of the reporting, it meant having to also ask questions of other exhibitors to find out how they were doing...and to keep an ear alert to rumors of the success or non-success of an art show event.

SO, I know that Sunshine Artist magazine does its best to get that information out there to anyone seeking to do the outdoor art show circuit.

Their web site: Http://
It is full of information by each state.

Also, while being a participant of the outdoor art shows, postcards are often handed out to the exhibitors to rate the show and send into the magazine.


Yes, Sandy, that's the show! This happened about 12 years ago, when a member of the staff lost control of the golf cart he was driving and plowed directly into my booth, taking it (and him) halfway down the hill to the Susquehanna River. I wasn't in my booth at the time, thank goodness.

I don't doubt that you find this show wasn't the best for fine arts - the atmosphere is a little more "street fair" and less upscale. My work (themed ceramic jewelry, at a $16-$30 retail pricepoint) always moved briskly in such environments, but then again, I wasn't selling $1,000 paintings. It takes a lot more activity to reach the same sales volume.

In this business, experienced exhibitors come to know which shows produce for them and which don't, and the type of customer they are seeking. Going outside those boundaries always involves a risk, but isn't that what entrepreneurs do?

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello again Carolyn..

Wow, into the Susquehanna River.. Whew what a sight that must have been. Scary and Tramatic for the driver of the golf cart headed toward the river.

You are sure right about finding the
"right" venue according to whatever one is out there selling. A mostly all crafts show is NOT going to work for fine art.
I wanted to try the show beccause of all my family living around there and having grown up in that area. I suspected that it might not be for my work and also because other fine artists told me to not bother, but since most of my family lived there I just had to try it. My brother has always been involved in theatre and performing arts in Harrisburg too and he warned me..he and other members of my family scouted the art show for an idea.

Yes, I took the risk in doing that show for good reasons..and at least I did not lose money except for the entry fee of the show...and gas and wear and tear of the vehicle...BUT, We got to visit with family who we love, and then also met some other wonderful exhibitors... ...and also sold a few things. It was great to see classmates and friends from Camp Hill H.S. from where I graduated, so there were some very nice happenings.
It is just a shame it did not produce the sales I had hoped for because it could have been the perfect show for me. Sigh.

Sometimes in selecting the art shows that we want to participate in, we do have to take those risks and hope and pray for the best.

Yes, Carolyn, I sure do agree with you....that is
what entrepreneurs do.

Thanks for sharing that incredible and interesting experience about the golf cart plowing into your booth. Goes to show we never know what will happen at the outdoor art shows. There are sooooooooooooo many amazing stories....a good motto....."Always expect the unexpected" if you plan to enter the outdoor art show circuit.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Hmmm...actually I did make my entry fee back for the show (and I had two spaces) with the few sales that I did have in that Harrisburg show...SO that was luck.


George De Chiara
That's an amazing story about the golf cart. It got me thinking, do any of you that do outdoor shows regularly carry any additional insurance for your work and booth?


Sandy Askey-Adams

Funny thing, at the last art show, several of us were speaking about that very subject...INSURANCE.

Some of us do and some of us do not because of some of the costs to have it. BUT, One of the artists had mentioned a company that insures artists works, etc..and happenings at the art shows for a small fee.

So I was thinking of looking into that and gosh, with being so busy here, I forgot about it till you brought the subject up. (Shame on me)
I have to look up the name of the company and when I find it among my notes, I will certainly share the name with anyone who is interested.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Oh, by the way, it is a subject not spoken of that often.
We all know how cruel and deceptive some people can be about insurance and what false accusations, etc..they will come up with or try to pull off to rip the insured person or insurance companies off....
One could or might delibertly pull something off just to get money. Scary.

But still, it is a good thing to have. Just one more thing added to the list.


Tom Weinkle
Sandy, I think they have a college down here in florida that offers degrees in insurance fraud. it's a two-year program, and they have placement services as well.


Carol Schmauder
Sandy: My husband and I were just talking about looking into insurance for outdoor shows. When you find the name of the company I would be interested to have that info. Thanks.

George De Chiara
Thanks again Sandy. I have thought about insurance from time to time for some of the shows I do, but have never gotten it. Mostly I do the indoor society/art association type shows where you have one piece in them. Insurance seems like one more expense with types of shows. With outdoor shows where you have a lot of your work, well... I guess that's why I was asking. Thanks again!

Joyce Durkin
I checked into insurance some time ago but the cost was too prohibitive.
re. art vs. art and craft shows, my own experience has been that there is a totally different crowd of people that patronize them. If the show has crafts, buyers just seem to be looking for a $5 thing on a stick.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Here is something you might be interested in...

The Art Festival Newsletter. I had forgotten about it till I just received an email from them.
Go to

It appears to offer a ton of information on a daily basis.
I have not taken a subscription to it yet...It is $16.00 a subscription.Keep one updated with the outdoor art festivals, etc...and what is happening out there with them, etc.. But just by visiting the site there in some good info to read without that subscription for now.

I must admit, wish I had thought of starting something like that.


Sandy Askey-Adams
Concerning insurance...
I do have a lot of work, but I have had damaged works thoughout the years of doing the art shows.
Never know what could happen. Heck, one year, my husband tripped and fell on two paintings that were waiting to be hung. WHEW...he was o.k.thank goodness...... but the paintings were not. Glass shattered and that glass ruined one of the pastels.
Another time we were hauling work up a ramp to the boardwalk and a paintng slid off the backend and crash!! It can happen no matter how careful one is. I could tell other stories, not just my own, but other artists stories that you would be stunned by.
One of the most interesting stories though is what happened to Carolyn at the Harrisburg art show..and there are more, so many more stories out there. At a N.J. Ocean City art show, there were a couple of displays (Canopies and racks) blown over the rails of the boardwalk during a horrendous storm. Luckily the work was not inside. But the displays were ruined. The tidal waves rose and the winds were frightning.

But, I worry about people coming into the booth..what might happen. Yikes. I think that is unusual though. Do not hear many stories about that.

Joyce is so right. The cost is just not worthwhile of taking it out. Although I still must find that note about where some of the artists have gotten their insurance.


Delilah Smith
Sandy said it like it is.She is right on.If you really want to get into a show talk to the promotor and ask what they are looking for in a display...but they will tell you what Sandy has just said so wonderfully..LISTEN.

Delilah Smith
I notice when I visited your web site they way you had your paintings displayed in your tent on some kind of hangers that you could hang several paintings on.Would you be so kind as to share with us what those are?

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Delilah...

I use the Graphic Display systems and the Armstrong panels.
I had bought the Armstrong panels ages ago and then bought covers for them. The Graphic Display system I inherited from a very dear artist friend of mine who passed away quite a few years ago. They are covered with the same covering.
But, If I did not already have those panels, I would buy the panels that are also made by armstrong products/Flourish but are covered with a type of carpeting...and they are gorgeous panels!!
There is no sense in me re-investing in new panels at this time when what I have are professional looking also.
AS far as WHERE to buy those panels ,,, I had given the web site earlier and Moshe reposted it all way up above.
Web sites:

Now I hope I listed them all correctly without any misspelled words, etc...


Sandy Askey-Adams
A p.s.
Many of the artists who are starting to follow the outdoor art show circuit are investing in the propanels. They are amazing looking and were not available when I bought my panels from Armstrong Products.
Take a look at those. Two artists created them.
You should see them in person. They make a Stunningly beautiful backdrop for the work and easy to use and hang the work. They come in a nice selection of colors also. I usually see the grey, black or the lt.tan color out there at the shows.

Nebojsa Jovanovic
Thank you for such valuable information.

I have been doing my first outdoor shows this summer (Toronto area).

It has been a wonderful experience and financial success too. But after reading this article I found many things I have to improve.

Just a quick note. For the last show I compiled a check list for all items I have to pack in my vehicle. I found it very useful since it is very easy to forget something at the last moment.

Very useful info. I have been thinking about entering my artwork in an outdoor exhibit. Thanks for all the advise. I might just try soon.

A very good site to check out is There is a lot of very good info on doing shows and many ratings of US shows on their site. Another is the show bible almost. It's called the art fair Sourcebook.


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