For all my "out of state" art show wannabe's...

So there you sit all comfy in that chair looking at your computer and selecting these art shows all over the country.  You've done your homework, gotten your transportation together to get the work and the tent with all the accessories together, filled out tons of entry forms and responded to the notifications, and or rejections.  Surely with all those awards they will undoubtedly select you!  Not so fast there buddy!  You see, those things don't really come into play in this game of art showmanship.  It's incredibly competitive and those who read between the lines and follow the rules to the "T" have a better than fair chance to get into a lot of the shows.

Let's not forget about the three things that are always a constant in this crazy life of ours:  Life, Death, and Taxes.  Yes, TAXES!!!!!!!!!  Agghhhhh....but hey, we are so fortunate to live here in Virginia where believe it or not, they make the process fairly effortless for artists and out of state vendors.  When you go out of Virginia though, you had best prepare ahead of time, way ahead of time or pay some hefty fines!  Today I finally registered with the Florida Department of Taxation, something every artist/vendor must do long in advance of selling their wares in the Sunshine State.  It was a fairly painful and lengthy process that involved some serious screen time to get right.  You must have an FEIN (Federal Identification No.) or an EIN (employee Identification No.). to get started, along with your business license information and company name.  If you plan on doing shows in Florida, start here:

Here are a few important things that stand out to me about doing local and out of state shows:

  1. Read the prospectus completely and follow it to the letter.  Every show is different and they all require different image formats and labeling of the images.  The ones you used for zapplication or juried arts services web sites may not be good enough or may be too big for some of the smaller venues you are pursuing.
  2. Make a list of all the things you need to bring to the show, especially your prints of the originals.
  3. Make separate containers or boxes for the prints and label them on the outsides as to the contents inside.  If you send your partner to the trailer/van to get a print refill or an original, it makes it a lot easier to find if you have a labeling system on your boxes filled with art.
  4. Put all the reproductions in one box that will go into the print bin so they don't get mixed up with the duplicates.  Don't put duplicates on the table or bin because it makes it appear like you have cranked out a ton of the same thing and cheapens the appearance of your work.
  5. Make a detailed list of all the furniture, electrical components, and hardware you need for your display so that you don't leave anything out.
  6. Develop a really secure system in your vehicle and trailer if you have one to secure all the contents.  I used lots of D rings, ratchet straps, netting, and bungies to secure my load.  
  7. Make sure that you load up your vehicles so that the items that need to come off first, like the tent, weights, poles, and carts get loaded on last and are out front so you can access them right away.
  8. Bring a lot of extra lights, battery type LED and regular flashlights, as well as hat lights.  Did you know that some of the shows have set up times at 4:30-5:00 AM?  When other artists see me at those shows they think its an Alien invasion because I have so many battery powered lights but it's really easy to loose something in the dark bro!
  9. Bring a well stocked cooler with food and plenty of bottled water.
  10. If you are doing lights, get a good marine deep cell battery, an inverter, and some LED lights that you can hook up to your display.  You can buy them pre made and spend a ton or just go to Home Depot and ask the electrical genius there to help you.  They usually know a lot more than you do.
  11. Check the vehicles completely, air, water, oil, fluids, etc.
  12. Don't forget the GPS!
  13. Put all of your paperwork in one place that you can find easily, including the business license, insurance proof, prospectus, etc.
  14. Bring a lot of shrink wrap, foam or bubble wrap to package the works you sell. My clients really appreciate it when I package the originals up professionally on the spot so that they can survive the trip to their place in perfect order.

That's about it for now and I am sure there's a ton of more things to consider that I did not mention, but these really stand out.  Remember to check with the state's tax web site to find out how to register for that state so you are in compliance and you will stay out of trouble and have a great show.

Kris and I are having the time of our life doing these shows and it's a lot more comfy when you do your homework and prevent problems before they come up.  Of course they always do and that's part of the fun!  Be safe out there and drive slowly when towing a trailer.  Trailer sway is a killer and can ruin your entire experience, and it's so easy to avoid by going slower!

This link at the Art Fair Insiders is pretty eye opening.  It gets pretty complicated in some states like NY and New Jersey.  Not only do they want sales tax, they also want income tax!