Setting Up an Art Fair or Market Stall

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The stall of WhereFishSing aka artist Fiona Morgan at the Ballarat Artisan Fair 2011
Set up of my stall in progress for the Ballarat Artisan Fair
Ballarat Artisan Fair. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday 4th, 5th & 6th November 2011. The Mining Exchange, 8 Lydiard St, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (just a few doors down from the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery). 10am - 4pm each day. Some forty or so regional artists will be displaying and selling their creations, along with music, coffee, nibbles, artists talks and demonstrations. Come along if you can.

Today has been consumed with the set up of my stall at the Ballarat Artisan Fair. This is the first time I've prepared for an art fair. It's taken several weeks to get everything together, from varnishing all the (70+) paintings, to sourcing gift bags (that never arrived!) to printing promotional material. Below is a list of everything I've been able to think of to take along or have prepared. I'll append it afterwards as there are bound to be new insights gained from participating in the event.


  • Trestle table or two
  • Many markets require a white table cover, so get a white sheet or two, or something nicer such as velvet (not velveteen as it looks cheap) or satin or canvas
  • Large butterfly clips for clipping tablecloth to table, and gaffa tape the same colour as the table cover for hiding the clips
  • Clamps for backup clipping tablecloth to table
  • A bucket or box as a bin for under your table is rather handy

Promotional material

  • Business name banner with rope & eyelets and gaffa tape for hanging options
  • Business cards
  • Email list signup sheet on clipboard (essential!!)
  • Pens for signup sheet, attached by string
  • Postcards of artwork
  • Photo books of artwork - show off more than you can bring on the day as interested people may ask for a commission based on what they see you are capable of
  • Photo board of artwork - lots of artwork to choose from on the day but too many paintings to display at once? Show photo samples of your full range. Individual artworks can be shown on request.
  • Artist statement for display, possibly laminated
  • Price tags, ready and blank (who knows what will happen on the day and how many you will need)
  • Nice paper to print out price tags and artist statement and any other small signage

Displaying artwork

  • Figure out the stall design and layout first
  • Builders level for getting frames hung straight (so good)
  • Wire/hooks/picture hooks (a roll of fencing wire, some pliers and tin snips are super handy to make hooks of any size or strength)
  • Framing wire (make sure it's rated to cope with more than double the weight your work weighs)
  • Fishing wire to make a washing line artwork display (useful for giftcards and other small lightweight works)
  • Sinkers to weight down display wire to make it stay taught
  • Small bulldog clips x 24 for hanging unframed artwork washing line style (these are super handy)
  • Cotton gloves for handling artwork
  • Frames, ready to hang
  • Pliers - fat and thin
  • Hammer
  • Wirecutters (tinsnips are far more effective than the scissor part of pliers)
  • Screwdrivers - an assortment
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Gaffa tape / cloth tape in colours to match your display elements
  • Blu-tack 
  • Double sided tape
  • Backboard/screen on which to hang artwork
  • Window cleaner and paper towels for cleaning the glass & frames - essential

Storing artwork

  • Portable box storage system
  • Glassine paper for unframed artwork

Looking after me
  1. Portable music
  2. Lunch - no heating required, not messy
  3. Snacks - nuts, fruit, quick, not messy
  4. Water - have two litres
  5. Coffee, tea, hot drink in thermos or hot water plus bags/containers, milk
  6. Camping chair or something to sit on, plus a cover to make this presentable

Selling artwork

  • Change from bank for cash sales
  • Cash storage - bumbag or tin or wallet
  • Credit card payment facilities - if not provided, take a laptop with easy access to the Paypal site, laptop power supply, powerboard and extension cord
  • Certificates of authenticity - ready to print (take printer, extension cord and spare ink) or already printed out in doubles and take carbon paper
  • Clip board with attached pen for filling out the COA's - very handy
  • Packaging for sold artwork - precut cardboard sleeves / boxes or gift bags and bubble wrap
  • Phone, charged up
  • Red dot stickers
  • Paintings, varnished and framed
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Notepads
  • Packing tape 
  • Regular stickytape / sellotape

If you're an artist and have useful notes to add from your experiences of art fairs, please enlighten the rest of us in the comments.

More art technique articles

This article is one in an ongoing series of technical articles for artists, all archived together and accessible from here. The topics range from details on materials, to the business of art, to specific art techniques. Please make use of this resource.

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