What to bring to an Art Market

As part of my 2018 goals, I wanted to sell my art prints at local markets, as well as online. After some research, I selected a few art markets I could attend in my home place, Cork. However, I had little idea of what to bring to markets and Google wasn’t that helpful; while there was a lot of information available for general craftspeople, there were few articles specific to artists. I decided once I created a definitive list that I would write an article to help other artists!

Given that Google wasn’t the best source of information for this exercise, I turned to using my own intuition, advice from peers and other artists. There’s a fantastic page on Facebook called ‘Bite the Biscuit‘ that anyone can request to join, provided you fill out a few answers; this page consists of thousands of craftspeople and other creatives who help, encourage and give advice to one another. When I asked ‘what should I bring to an art market’ through the page, I received many helpful answers that helped create my first list of items to bring.

art market Cork art prints
One of my first Art Market Stalls

Here is my definitive list of items to prepare and bring with you to an Art Market:

  • Art Prints: This one sounds obvious, but before my first art market I only had original artwork. I came across The Framemaker in Cork City, who provide printing and mounting services; so I inquired and ordered 20 different prints from them. If you live near Cork, I would recommend choosing The Framemaker as they provide a professional and affordable service for artists.
  • Plastic Covering: To make your art prints as presentable as possible, and safe from any accidents, plastic covering is the way to go. While measuring out the plastic and applying it to prints is laborious, it is worth it for the finished result. Cork Art Supplies sell plastic covering for a great price.
  • Punch Hole: Once you are finished with the plastic covering, use a punch hole to create a space for a tag. Again, Cork Art Supplies sell a vast range of these. 
  • Tags and Stickers: Tags and stickers will add the final touch! You can write the price for each item on a tag and use the attached string to slot the tag through the punch hole. I bought custom stickers with my logo on them on Vista Print. Then, I stuck these stickers on to each art print, which made each print look that bit more professional.
art market Cork art prints preparation Ireland
Preparing my Prints for the Market
  • Chair and Table: Sometimes art markets provide them, sometimes they don’t. Either way, it’s better to ask the market organiser beforehand. If you’re lucky enough to have a car or reliable form of transportation, it’s better to bring a spare of each anyway; you never know, you may need another chair for a guest and a table for wrapping art for buyers!
  • Table Cloth: If you are definitely bringing a table or two, it is nice to have a table cloth flowing underneath your products. A bright table cloth helps your artwork and stall stand out. Make sure you know the dimensions of your table if you are buying a custom table cloth. I bought an oil table cloth in Guineys for 30 euro. 
  • Change: Every market seller needs change, so you must work out how much you need. In my case, I made a list of all my art prints and how much I would sell each of them for. Then, I wrote down all the possible combinations of change and notes I could receive from buyers, and worked out what change I would need in each scenario. Note that if you require a lot of change, you must order from your bank in advance.
  • A Box for Change: A box for change is handy for selling transactions. Soestrene Grene sell some nice ones.
  • Pen and Pad: Bring a pen and pad to keep notes during the art market, and to keep track of your sold items.
  • Business cards: Business cards are essential for all brands. By displaying them at your market, shoppers can easily collect them and access your contact details at any time. Remember, while a shopper may not buy something at your stall, they may buy from you through another medium. For business cards, it is important to show your logo for brand visibility on the front, and your contact details (including social media presences) on the back. Vista Print do great business cards and other stationery. 
  • Signage: Making your brand stand out at art markets distinguishes you from competitors. As well as business cards, you can use different types of branded bunting, roll up banners and LED powered lights, for example, to showcase your brand name. Vista Print, again offer a great range of custom brand solutions. Home Sense offer some pretty material if you’re looking for something to make your table a tad more galamorous!
  • Branded Photoframe: For the markets I attended, I really wanted to emphasise my social media platforms for customers, so I created a mini branded display. Using Illustrator, I created a 6x4in page listing all my various social media platforms to fit a photoframe I bought in Primark.
My Branded Photo Display
  • Propellers: Propellers are another important aspect for appearance at your stall. Use propellers to add different levels of height and make your best artwork stand out. Soestrene Grene offer both small and big stands depending on the size and weight of your prints. 
  • Lights: Clever use of lighting is another way to decorate your stall. Both Primark and Home Sense provide great lighting solutions. I personally prefer battery-powered solutions as I don’t have to worry about being near a plug!
  • Chalkboards: Chalkboards are a simple way to show your prices to customers quickly. Vibes and Scribes sell these.
  • Water and Lunch: Don’t forget these as it’s a long day at a market!
  • Bags: If shoppers decide to buy your artwork, it is important to provide bags that fit the size of any prints you have. I bought both small and large bags at Soestrene Grene
  • Wrapping Paper: Offer customers the option to wrap their selected artwork, especially if the artwork is bought as a gift. This adds a nice touch and makes the experience with you much more memorable. If you’re selling at Christmas time, use festive wrapping paper:
  • Sellotape and Scissors: Sellotape and scissors are both essential if you’re intent on wrapping artwork. 

My top tips:

After attending two art markets in 2018, I also decided to compile a short list of top tips. Hopefully all this information will help your art market preparation:

  • Have a wide variety of items to sell, so you cater to all your different target audiences.
  • Don’t come too early if you only have a small display to set up; I made this mistake the first time. Remember, it’s a long day!
  • Bring something to do while the market is happening; some people read books, others do craft and others simply talk to potential customers.
  • Mark your prices clearly so they are obvious to customers immediately.

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