Art season 05, a success!

Today was the last day of Spanish Market, and the last day of our official “art season”.

From mid-September through mid-November (Hispanic Heritage Month, Dia de los Muertos and Spanish Market), Patrick and I create hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of original Latino-themed art that we sell all across the country, at local art events, we teach classes, give interviews, set up installations – so forth. It’s grueling. We hardly sleep, cook, clean, party or chill. Every second is spent racing against the clock to keep up with the demand without having to hire outside help.

This year was the hardest ever. On top of our regular shows and exhibits, I taught six workshops, gave three speeches, finsihed proofing the galleys on my book, and started a podcast. And it all culminated to this weekend for Spanish Market. Loco? You bet! It was SO worth it.

Last year at SM, we sold out of 60% of our stock by 2 pm the first day. I was smart this time and *doubled* our merch. It took two vehicles to carry the goods from our house to the Heard Museum. Our display filled three 8-foot tables, plus a free-standing display for canvases. We were so confident we could kick back Saturday night.

Wrong. Again, we sold out by 2pm the first day! Patrick and I asked Theresa to hold down the fort with the kids so we could go home and make more stock for today. We clocked in at 2:30 am this morning and woke up at 6:30 am. What we had left of our work by the end of the show today, barely filled one box. Very cool.

Many of the other artists from the event came by to see what the heck it was that people were buying from us. I’ll tell you our secret. It’s really not a secret at all. It’s the Crafty Chica way of thinking. After doing this for more than a decade, I kinda feel like I have some helpful tips to offer in the art booth world. We don’t have any more events, but I know a lot of other artists and crafters who do.

Hope these tips help!

1. Think like a shopaholic.
When you are sketching out your line of goods to make and sell, think of the guilty pleasure items you see at the store, and then *come up with your own version*. Is it handbags? Greeting cards? Blank journals? Ornaments? If you can find a way to design things that you would want to buy, there is a good chance there are other people, just like you, who will appreciate it! Don’t forget to have a broad price range of options. We had things that started at $5 and went up to the hundreds. It works, because most people can afford to at least buy something.

2. Make price cards with personality.
I think it is boring to just slap on a price sticker. If you have enough time, print out whimsical cards with your business name and attach to your items. And then for each item, use a fine point Sharpie to tell a bit about the piece – like what it can be used for, what it is made of, or a funny gimmick sentence. Examples:
On a Virgin of Guadalupe Box I sold, I made a tag that said “Perfect for holding all your sacred medals, prayers cards and rosaries!”. Other items I made tags that said “Hand-painted and hand-glittered just for you!” or “Here’s a glittery box to match your sparkling personality!” It really does help relay your personality to the buyer. It makes your work stand out and shows you put LOVE into every aspect!

3. Greet every visitor.
I don’t know if you ever feel like this, but I feel weird when I go to an artist’s booth and they don’t acknowledge me. Almost like I’m a nerd or not cool enough. It may be the middle child in me, but I feel intimidated. I don’t need anyone to hold my hand, but a warm “Hi!” makes me feel warm and welcome. Also eye contact because you really want to establish a connection. Maybe the person won’t buy something this time, but they’ll remember your shiny smile for next time!

4. Keep a stack of bio sheets to pass out.
These are quarter page flyers that tell about who you are and what you do. You can put a happy head shot, and then a graph about you. Maybe how you got started, what your speciality is, etc. This is yet another way to make folks remember you. Plus, many times at art shows, there are press people who attend, so you may even get publicity!

5. Publicity.
About three weeks before your event, contact the media relations person and volunteer to share your work for a segment, or to offer quotes for the local paper. Better yet, make your own little press release and email it to the local media. Offer a few snappy segment ideas: “Judy Jetson rocks the world with her circuit board purses, she’ll tell you all about it!”

6. Take your work to the next level.
Art booths are just like the contestants on America’s Next Top Model. You have to be heads above the rest – or “buh bye! – Passers by will move on. You want to grab their attention and go “Oooooo, cool!” In other words, a plain red skinny scarf won’t cut it. You have to make it especial. Use an exclusive type of yarn, or add embellishments, or have a great sales pitch.

7. Display!
The way you have your items arranged makes a world of difference. If you have time, lay out your display at home in a pre-trial run. Set it up and walk by, pretending yoiu are a customer, to see what needs to be moved around. Don’t forget to bring a pretty table cloth, and a candy dish to hand out treats!.

8. Mailing list.
Always have a note pad out so your customers can sign up for your mailing list.

9. Crafty Emergency Kit.
I have one of these stocked and ready for action. It’s a box with price stickers, ribbon, hole punch, index cards, a Sharpie, mini scissors, pins, super glue, tape, a couple ballpoint pens, receipt book and if I’m selling a lot of jewelry items, I have a separate kit with needle nose pliers, jump rings, etc. Also a cash box if it is a cash and carry kind of event.

10. A good attitude.
Nothing good will come if you are in Debbie Downer mode. We’ve had booths where we didn’t sell one thing. You have to keep your chin up and think positive. At least you will have extra stock for your next show! At one of our events last month, we had a really sucky first day. i was freaking out because we spent so much money and time on supplies and making everything. right next to us was a very cool import booth with super low prices and it was packed with shoppers – whereas out booth had tumble weeds blowing past. My chin began to quiver and Patrick helped keep me in check. He took over the booth the next day so I could relax at home, and he kicked butt all by himself. I think it was all in attitude and vibe. You have to go in not expecting anything – and whatever comes out of it will automatically be a big plus. As a tip – we never do “paid” booths. We only do events where they operate on a commission. That way we don’t lose out.

One more thing – I love to barter art with other vendors. That way your personal collection can grow!

For those of you selling this holiday season, good luck!!! As for me, this week we are sending out the last of our recent internet orders, I’m back at my day job after a week’s vacation and then I’m heading off to fiction land for my novel revisions!

Nighty night for now!

Kathy 🙂
peace, respect & glitter.
See the new line of Crafty Chica products at select Michaels stores!! All content/photos copyright, © Kathy Cano-Murillo, 2008.

Love & light,

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

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Hi, I’m Kathy, The Crafty Chica! My specialty is creative motivation. I’m an artist, author, and speaker and this is where I share my craft tutorials, artwork, articles, books, product lines, and workshops!

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