How to Set Up an Outdoor Art Booth Display and List of Equipment Needed

Ever wonder what it takes to set up a booth for an art & craft show? Watch my time-lapse narrated video to learn how to set up an outdoor art booth. Watch how I specifically designed my booth to attract customer in under 7 seconds, because that’s how long you have to inspire shoppers to enter your booth before the walk on by!

Then read on to discover a variety of materials and equipment you’ll need to set up your own booth.

Watch the Video

 

I have over 27 years experience of selling my watercolors at shows, and love it!

I find art & craft shows are still the best way to meet customers because you get to make a face to face personal connection. You also get to see first hand their reaction to your art, and what they gravitate to. Your customers want to know you, and what inspires you to create. Having the opportunity to explain your creative process in person can be extremely powerful when it comes to selling your art!

You also gain valuable feedback for developing your future work, and chance to improve your conversational skills with your customers. (It’s important to know how to talk about your art confidently, and the only way you’ll get better at it is with practice.)

If you fit into one of these 3 categories then Art & Craft shows may be a good fit for you:

  • You’re just staring out selling your art, and you’re trying to define your own style and voice.
  • You have no interest in selling your art online.
  • You want to further develop your brand, and broaden your customer base.

Equipment Needed for Shows

 

Here’s a list of equipment to consider getting for your own booth:

Canopy

Shelter for your art is very important! In the beginning it doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can start of with an EZ-Up or Eurmax tent to begin with (Just know their walls are water resistant and not waterproof).

Make sure it has a white canopy! I know lots of artist that get a colored canopy to help them stand out, but then that color reflects poorly on their art. White filters light in the best! Save the color for your walls instead. Here are some options:

If you are ready to commit to a full time schedule of showing your art, then I recommend investing in a Trimline Canopy. They’re completely waterproof, the best against wind, last for decades, and easily customizable. Their support team is also the best. (So important!)

Canopy Add-Ons

You don’t need to get everything all at once. Here are some add-ons you may like to invest in down the road to customize your booth:

 

Walls

If you’re looking for walls to hang your art, ProPanels (shown above) have the most professional look. I love these panels but I wasn’t able to get them because they were too big for my mini van. So I went with white MeshPanels from the Flourish Company. Mesh display panels are durable panels that roll up easy, and fit into a duffel bag for transport.

Both ProPanels and MeshPanels can come in a variety of colors. My walls are over 10 years old and back then they only had white so I made my own Burlap covers to go over my MeshPanels, but now days you can purchase colored covers too!

To hang your art work I suggest good old fashion curtain hooks.

 

Weights

Weighting down your tent is super important! I’ve seen a strong gust of wind destroy tents in second. (Visit this post to see the destruction for yourself!) To protect your canopy from wind, you can purchase sandbagsfrom companies like EZ-Up and anchors from the Flourish Co, or even use workout weights from home. I made my own weights (shown above) they’re easy to store, attach to my canopy, and aren’t an eyesore. To make your own weights all you need is:

 

Bins & Racks

If you need bins for paintings and prints you can custom make your own or purchase bins from:

 

Shelves

I’ve seen a lots of different types of shelves used at shows. Everyone has a different way of solving this need. If you decide to go with ProPanel walls then you can add selves to them! What’s great about ProPanel shelves, bins, and desk, is how easy they come apart and fold down for transport.

 

Desk

A desk can be very helpful for storing important tools and materials for your shows. I highly recommend a desk from ProPanels for it’s durability and ability to fold down for transport. They have two sizes to choose from.

 

Chair

I’m a big advocate for sitting in a tall 30″ directors chair. They sit higher then the average fold up chair, and this is very important when talking to customers when you are sitting. If you sit too low it makes customers feel uncomfortable. You want to stand or sit at eye level with your customers. Here are a couple of chairs to check out:

 

Banner & Signs

Once you get your booth set up figured out, the next important item to add is a banner or some sort of a sign with your name on it. I ordered several banners from Vista Print, and then customized them to my own needs. There are many places to order a banner, here are a few:

 

Above are decorative bird cage lights I made myself just for ambiance in my booth. (To learn how I made them check out this post!)

Booth Customizations

Here are a few more things to consider once you are ready to add to your booth to help highlight your art:

  • Rug
  • Lights
  • Table covers
  • Bio
  • List of Awards
  • Business Cards
  • Show Schedule
  • Display Monitor or Banner (To show everyone how you make your art.)

Merchant Processing for Credit Cards

This one is super important when it comes to selling your art! You need to be able to take debit and credit cards. I recommend Square Up, but there are several merchant processors to choose from:

 

7 seconds to Impress Shoppers

You may wonder if all this work is worth it?

If you want to make $4000-$8000 in a weekend at one of these shows then yes it is!

Don’t expect to have a standout booth display right out of the gates. It’s a process. It takes time to figure out what your best selling items are, how best to display your art, how to talk to your customers, and how to customize your booth to fit your needs.

My best advise is to start entering shows, and after each show critique yourself. Figure out what worked and what didn’t work. Then, start making small tweaks after each show. If you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I still critique myself, and make changes after every show.

Remember what everyone loves about art shows is discovering that unique one of a kind handmade item! You want to be original, but also practical. Design a booth display the stands out without being disorganized or overwhelming. You have 7 seconds to impress shoppers walking by in hopes they will enter your booth. From there it’s on you to sell your art!

 

What to know more?
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16 thoughts on “How to Set Up an Outdoor Art Booth Display and List of Equipment Needed

  1. Love your art and your generosity in telling us how to set up a booth and where you get your equipment. This is so well done with clicks to other sites for information and even prices! Thank you so much for your kindness and your generous spirit! I no longer need this information but appreciate it as an ex-craft show sales person.

    1. Thank you so much for your support Sharon! I’m a slow writer and sometime I wonder if all the work is worth it to make these post. Reading your comment just made it all worth it:)

      If there is anything I can write about in the future that you would like to hear let me know!

      Tracy

  2. Hi there… I am a veteran of arts and craft shows for the last 15 years, and I just found your blog today. What a wonderful wealth of information! Your knowledge and kindness towards newbies is overwhelming… I wish I had met someone like you when I was first starting! I’m your West Coast counterpart… It’s too bad we’re a country apart!

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Thank you so much! It’s hard figuring this world out on your own. If it wasn’t for a few professional artist showing me the ropes when I was a teen I would have never figured it out. Not even college prepared me for a fraction of what I learned from full time artist.

      What’s it like selling out on the West Coast? Most artist in the North East go to Florida in the winter to sell if they want to sell year round. I usually take the winters off to paint new collection and show 6 mns out of the year.

  3. Hello beyond fantastic info!!! Thank you so much! I was wondering about your price tags. Did you have them printed somewhere, what information do you put on them? Also the thing your prints go in. Is that something you designed? The greeting card display on the wall that was cool too. Did you make that? So many questions. Just want to say I am in awe of your stuff!

    1. All great questions Lynette:-)
      I make my own price tags, they have the information on the art and the prices on them. I also handmade my card holder. I handmade just about everything you see in my booth to fit my brand, and my car! Lol. There are some things I wish I could do differently but my vehicle just won’t allow it, plus I have to set up my booth myself and don’t want to make it too difficult.

      What’s most important is catching your customers eye. That’s all your booth has to do. It’s not going to sell your art, that you have to do once they enter your booth. It’s a two part process!

      I will be opening a mentorship program hopefully by the end of this year to help new artist entering the show world sell their art. If you are interested hop onto my newsletter for my announcement when it becomes available: https://mailchi.mp/49478fe494ae/signmeup

  4. I have been doing art shows, just a few, for about 5 years. I live in Idaho and there just isn’t the kind of market you have. We are very rural. I’ve been trying to figure out how to lighten my load and simplify set up. I have a popup tent but it doesn’t pop up. It takes some muscles to accomplish. Yours looks easier. I use livestock panels to hang my art since it’s rustic landscapes and animals but they are heavy. I’m thinking of using chains with hooks instead. I just bought sheer curtains to hang behind the art. In 2017 I did pretty well but last year was really off. I don’t to spend money for the mesh fabric ones. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Debbie,

      If you want to continue to sell at shows I would invest a little every year in your set up. That way your system will grow, and improve bit by bit. This is what I had to do. I was not able to have the system you see me in now years ago. Showing can be hard if the weather doesn’t play nice so you want to be prepared and have piece of mind you art is safe. I would consider adding one mesh panel to your display at a time, and if you don’t like your tent that means it’s time to get one you do like, and it does’t have to be expensive. You just have to do a little research on what you like. I have to do the shows by myself and I needed to make my booth as light weight as possible which is why I use the roll up flourish panels (mine are 15 yrs old and not one rip in it! They are so strong) There are also pro panels, and racks, but both of those are heavy. You can also experiment with your own homemade walls! I made my own covers for my walls with burlap instead of buying wall covers to make my walls look countryside.

      I also understand sometimes we have to travel for a good show. I have to do this a lot. Most of the good shows for me are in NY, NJ, and PA which are 6-12 hr drive for me, but it’s worth it. I wish I could get to OH, MI, WI, and KY. There are some huge shows out there! Sometimes you just have to build up customers in an area by going to a few shows in that area, and then pick the show you like the most and only go to that one once a year, and train your customers to go to that show. Also remember to get them on an email list so you can sell to them throughout the year! You don’t even need an online show (in fact it’s better for your shows to make your customers buy right there and then) You can sell directly in an email or on a facebook business page and just invoice them through PayPal or square. I know a lot of artist that do this, especially in the winter months to get by until show season.

      Make a wish list of everything you want to change. Then, start knocking your items off one by one. Yes, this may take time. Sometimes it take me years to cross of items off my to-do list, but time we have and it’s going to pass whether we do something about our dreams our not – so we might as well chip away at that wish list:-)

      I hope this helps Debbie! I know how hard and daunting this can be. Remember the most importing thing in your booth is you. You are the key to educating your shoppers and selling to them. Keep positive and never stop experimenting with all your ideas!

  5. Hi! I am doing my very first art show soon and have been struggling with how I want to hang my canvases. I know I want them on the walls, but i have no idea how! It seems as though you were sticking the hooks directly into your fabric, but how did you make your burlap wall covers? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Abby,

      Congratulations on your first show! I made my burlap walls, but it’s just for show and not a necessity. My old flourish panels (http://www.flourishdisplays.com/meshpanel_features) were looking old and dingy and I decided to cover them up. They’re the walls that hold up my art (not the burlap). If you have the flourish panels or pro panels or even just wire mesh you will be fine for your first show. There is a lot to consider when making your own covers because of all the parts you have to make the covers fit around. It best to be very familiar with your set up before making them. Buying them is best! That way they will be flame resistant, and accepted into all shows. My burlap walls can only be used at some shows because of the fire marshal’s restrictions.

      Good Luck at your show!

  6. Hi Tracy – I just stumbled on your site and I’m glad I did! While not new to the art show world, I am new to the OUTDOOR venue art show world. I’ve been hesitating buying a canopy tent et al because I have no idea where to start, this blog has helped me considerably. I’m still nervous about making the buying plunge, but you’ve given me hope. My art work isn’t heavy but does need to hung on walls. What would you suggest for walls? Thanks for your insights.

    1. Hi Erin,
      Your are right, you just need to make the plunge! Start off with any white canopy 10×10 tent. It doesn’t have to be expense, get something from Costco or Sams. For the walls I highly recommend the flourish walls: http://www.flourishdisplays.com/meshpanel_features
      They are so strong and your artwork won’t fall off. They are also easy to roll up, store in a duffle bag, and travel with. If money is tight just start with one wall. For hooks use curtain hooks. They are sharp enough to easily poke through the mesh walls for hanging and use two to a painting. These are cheap, like $2.00 a bag of 14 at Walmart.
      There are also pro panel walls which are really nice, but they are more expensive and take up a lot more room for traveling.

      What’s most important is just to get out there! I wish you the best of luck:-)

      Tracy

  7. How did you get your set-up with the doorway the the center? Is it 2 french panels?

    1. Hi Cindi,

      They are something like that. I have a ton of different parts I have collected over the years and can do a bunch of variations of set ups depending on my space, and if the show is indoors or outdoors. I do a lot of experimentation with all the equipment I have. Two french walls can certainly get the job done!

  8. Hi Tracy — follow-up (I’m rolling along). Bought a brand new (though older) EZ-up Embassy 10×10 tent from (well it doesn’t matter), but they only asked $40! S.O.L.D.! We set it up today and it’s great – sidewalls, the whole shebang (still white and pretty)! Now, I have a couple more questions. I need the mesh panels, or similar. What’s the difference between the Flourish mesh panels and the soft panels (know I don’t need/want the pro-panels (can’t transport)). Also, on weights — hubs likes the idea of the make-your-own PVC for weighting tent legs. How much does each of yours weigh? We see the sand bag or free weights options, trying to figure out the best route. Thanks – you’re my lifesaver for getting started!

    1. Hi Erin, congrats on picking up the tent at that price! Yay! I have the mesh panels and they are awesome. I’m not sure if the soft panels are a different color alternative or just covers that go over the mesh panels? They are new to me. To order from this company you have to call them. They are still old school that way, but the guys there are awesome to talk to, and so helpful! They will answer all your questions. I used to call them every year, and tell them what I wanted to expand on and they always sold me the most affordable option. Sometimes I would only have to by a $9.00 part to make a side wall, and they would explain to me how to split my mesh walls saving me from buying new ones. I suggest to call them and ask them what the difference is. You can hold off on buying if you want and just call for info to begin with. I agree with the pro panels, while they are awesome, they are hard to transfer.

      Have your hubby make you the weights like mine and use bungee cords to hook them to the corners of the tent. They are way easier to transfer, use, and look better! You can make them 25 lb to 30 lb depending on the size of the pvc you choose.

      Remember the most important part of your booth is YOU! You will go along way being engaging with those that enter. Try to talk to everyone, ask questions, and talk a lot about your art!

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