Sep 25, 2010

Too busy, too plain and too many

Last weekend I was at the Queen West Art Crawl, as a vendor, but also as a spectator of other booths and shoppers. Here are 3 of my main observations:

1. Although it is good marketing practice to collect contact information from potential buyers (via emails lists, mailing lists, etc), it shouldn't get in the way of the reason people are at the show. If you have a book for mailing lists, a guest book for comments, brochures for future shows, your business cards, a portfolio, all of these things cloud your art. They are actually competing with the real reason you're there - your art. By the time your potential customer has picked up a card, a brochure, signed even 1 of your 2 books and made polite conversation with you, they are too tired to look at your art. So be careful, have enough stuff to engage them, but don't make it too busy.

2. White space is important, but it can also be intimidating. If your booth looks too neat, too empty, customers are afraid to enter. Really. They think 'I shouldn't touch', or 'If there's only 3 things they must be really expensive" or "if there's only 3 things, they must be the 3 things that no one else wanted. Another draw back to the plain booth, is that people buy art from artists for a story (as I've mentioned before) and a plain booth doesn't tell a story. It doesn't say who you are. So you have be somewhere between too busy and too plain.

3. Throughout the show I had some friends visit - which I loved and needed for a bit of a break from polite talk and they even brought coffee. But I did notice that customers didn't ask questions or buy when I seemed 'too busy'. I also noticed that a booth just across from me had 3 girls 'working' the booth. One was the artist and 2 others were her supports. Great for the artist - minus the sales. People already feel intimidating entering tents, then add more people watching them makes it even harder. So when possible, leave your booth to visit with friends (leave in the care of someone while you leave though) or need a break. Don't make your tent the one with too many.