During art festival season, fellow artists often ask me about my booth setup journey. How did I get started? What gear did I pick? How do I hang my artwork? Let’s dive into my booth evolution, from a rushed start to a well-oiled setup.
Getting Started: The Unexpected Adventure
Back in the beginning, I faced a last-minute opportunity – an art festival just two weeks away. With no plan or equipment, I scoured the internet for budget-friendly tips. The overwhelming information left me more puzzled than ever. Eventually, I took a leap, invested in some gear, and hoped for the best. Heading to that first event, my husband and I joked that if the setup collapsed, it would be a learning experience. Thankfully, it held up, and I made my first in-person sales.
Preparing for Success: Decision-Making Process
As another festival season approaches, I’m gearing up for my first event in August. To help out others, I’m sharing my journey, the products I used, and the decisions that shaped my booth.
Choosing Your Investment
Before you start spending, think about how much you’re willing to invest in your setup and how committed you are to the festival scene. If you’re planning for a lot of festivals, it may be worth spending to have a more polished, professional setup. But if you’re testing the waters, you can afford to compromise in certain areas. For me, I was in the latter boat – unsure about the longevity of my festival journey, so I aimed for budget-friendly options with room to upgrade down the line.
Crafting Your Display Style
Decide whether you want your work hanging on walls or propped up on tables and shelves. As a 2D artist who wanted a galleries vibe, I went for wall displays.
DIY or Ready-Made?
Sure, you can dive into DIY projects, especially for hanging systems. But my immediate need was for ready-to-go gear, so I went with off-the-shelf options.
Cracking the Transportation Puzzle
Your vehicle size affects what you can transport to and from festivals. Compact or bulky items? Choose wisely. With the car I have with non-folding back seats, compact options were necessary!
Must-Have Equipment: The Backbone of Your Booth
A successful booth relies on the right gear. Here’s my essential toolkit:
A Sturdy Tent
After much research, I settled on the Eurmax USA 10×10 Pop-Up Tent. This tent has taken a beating from all kinds of weather across 6 festivals, and it still stands strong.
- Most festivals have 10×10′ standard booth spaces available – this tent is a perfect fit
- Always use sandbags to anchor a tent when pitching on hard surfaces. Top tip: Head down to your local beach to fill up the sandbags included with the Eurmax USA 10×10 Pop-Up Tent!
- For grassy grounds, secure the tent to the ground with ropes and stakes, particularly important when leaving the tent pitched overnight at festivals.
Grid Panels for Artwork
For displaying my art, I went with white grid panels. They disassemble and fit easily in a car.
- White grid panels blend well into a white tent walls (in contrast to black grid walls)
- Each panel is 5×2′; I recommend using 4x grid panels across a single wall as per the above picture (instead of 5 grid panels which extend slightly beyond the tent’s corner poles)
- PROS: Relatively cheap, ready to go option, available on Amazon
- CONS: Heavy, need 2 people to set-up (when hanging from tent upper bars & not standing), white paint chips so need to respray after a season of use
Secure with Zip Ties
I used heavy-duty zip ties to attach grid walls to the tent’s upper bars. They held strong against wind and rain (even though the first time I tried them, I was convinced that the set-up would fail – it didn’t!)
Top tip: Secure the top and bottom of each grid to its adjacent grid (or to the corner tent pole) using zip ties with a lower tensile strength to avoid swinging in high winds!
S-hooks for Hanging
Finishing Touches: Elevate Your Booth
A few key pieces of equipment make all the difference:
An Efficient Table
I chose a black cocktail table for a clean, gallery-like look. It’s perfect for materials without needing a cloth, plus it’s super easy to disassemble, transport & store.
- At every festival, I get complements on this table – visitors don’t need to bend over to join my Collector’s Club/ pick up business cards! After a year of use, the table still looks great!
Print Rack for Versatility
A canvas print rack neatly held fine art prints on paper, adding variety to my booth without sacrificing style.
- There are 2 main options for print racks – wooden & canvas racks. I opted for the canvas rack for it’s color and slimline storage profile.
A tall director’s chair struck the right balance between standing and resting. It matched my booth’s aesthetic. This one was perfect as it folds easily for transport & storage.
Advancing the Aesthetic: Upgrading My Set-up
With experience (and sales) under my belt, I decided to reinvest and level up my booth’s appearance. The upgrade? Flourish Mesh Panels for seamless walls, and a more inviting space for art enthusiasts. These work perfectly with small S-hooks for hanging artwork. Here’s how I stepped up my setup game:
- Exploring Options: With a growing number of festivals under my belt, I recognized the need for a more professional look. I began researching upgrade possibilities that could enhance my booth’s overall appeal.
- The Contenders – Flourish Mesh Panels vs. Pro Panels: Two primary options stood out in my upgrade research: Flourish Mesh Panels and Pro Panels. Pro Panels, a favorite among seasoned artists, exude a classic feel. However, my heart leaned toward Flourish Mesh Panels for a couple of compelling reasons.
- Choosing Flourish Mesh Panels – A Gallery Feel: The allure of a gallery-style setup drew me to Flourish Mesh Panels. Their sleek, white walls resonated with my vision of showcasing my artwork against a clean, neutral backdrop. Plus, I had the flexibility with added French walls & doorway options. The sense of spaciousness and layout flexibility that these panels provided was exactly what I had in mind for my booth.
- Storage Efficiency and Practicality: While Pro Panels were appealing, their bulkiness posed a storage challenge in my small apartment. Flourish Mesh Panels offered a more convenient option, with collapsible poles and compact components that could be stored with ease.
- Elevating the Experience: The upgraded booth has elevated not only the aesthetics but also the overall experience for both myself and the visitors. The feel and look of my booth has garnered positive feedback from patrons and peers alike, adding an extra layer of professionalism and sophistication to my festival presence!
After several festivals, I have a couple of thoughts on these Flourish Panels
- PROS: Looks very professional. Can install walls solo. Pretty wind-proof (small holes in the mesh walls allow for wind to move through, unlike Pro Panels). Versatile layout vs. grid walls.
- CONS: Expensive! Can’t stick labels to walls with tape
I have a favour, if you end up ordering from Flourish, please tell the sales staff that Malti B Lee referred you – it’s no extra cost to you, but I’ll get a small referral which would go along way!
Your Journey Begins Here
Creating your booth is an artistic journey. Embrace challenges, adapt, and let your creativity shine within your festival space.
Share Your Experience
Join the conversation by sharing your own booth set-up triumphs, challenges, and questions in the comments below. Let’s inspire each other to elevate our art festival booths to new heights!
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This post contains affiliate links, which may earn me a small commission when you make a purchase through the provided links. This support helps fuel my creative endeavors without costing you extra.