Toledo Ohio How to get started with Art/Craft shows/festivals

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Original Post


So I'm more than a little new to the art and craft business, I've been making some form of art since as young as I can remember, but I've never actually tried to sell it until recently. I have an Etsy shop and its totally blank because I'm still trying to find something that I can make that doesn't take forever or isn't expensive and that I can profit from.

I like to paint, but I'm a slow painter because I'm also a perfectionist when it comes to my art. Pretty much nothing else in my life, but my art must be perfect! I also like to sew and would love to do little projects as soon as I get my sewing machine serviced.

Anyway, how do I get started? I don't have a vendor's license or tax ID and really have NO CLUE how to get one or even what to do afterwards. I suppose I should talk with an accountant at some point.

Also, when you do shows, where do people get those walls/boards that they hang up paintings or wall art on? Do people buy those or does the event supply them? Like at the Botanical Gardens show, most artists had walls of some sort to hang their photography or paintings or prints, but I have no idea where they get those from. I don't want to buy anything yet, but I can't figure out where to find this stuff. Is there like a website I should be reading?!

I was considering signing up for a show in November, but seeing as how I have no inventory yet, and I did find a few articles online to read about this, I think I might just start prepping now for shows next year. And in the meantime, try to get some Christmas inventory ready by October.

I just don't know where to start and this is such an overwhelming task. And I don't know any other artists, everyone I know thinks its "fun" to do art, but they have no real life experience to help me with. I honestly don't have any artsy real life friends, which sounds kinda odd now, but a few online art friends.

So really, any help you can give would be much appreciated!

Posted at 12:38 pm Jul 23, 2011 EDT


Re: licensing and paperwork, SCORE can help you with that. They have information on their website ( and you can sign up to actually talk to someone in person. It's free!

I recommend setting up your tax ID so that you have to submit taxes as few times as possible, because they expect you to report even if you have made $0 sales, and it's very easy to forget. If you don't file, they'll "estimate" your sales tax and send you a bill :( You're not likely to do a show a month, at least not right away, and you can always change it later.

I don't know much about art & craft shows because I only sell vintage, but I have been doing antique/clothing shows for 10+ years and there are some similarities. I never found any satisfactory display stuff for sale, I have had to jury-rig or make things. I covered some boards with navy bedsheets I bought at a thrift store to make shelves. I had another board cut into short lengths, and I hinged them in pairs - I use these to stack my shelves. That's not specifically what you asked about, just an example.

You might want to buy a folding table. Some shows will rent you things like tables or showcases (that's antique show-specific, not sure what arts/crafts shows would rent? Maybe pegboard walls?) but I have probably paid enough over the years to buy 4 or 5 tables! One show is now charging $120, yes, just for the table. Sometimes it's worth paying, though, not to have to drag a table around. You COULD move an 8' banquet table from your van to your booth yourself, but you probably don't want to. A cart or dolly is also useful. And taking credit cards is good. If you have a smartphone, that's very easy to arrange.

How about requesting applications for some of the shows you've been thinking about? Then you can see what the terms are, cost, etc.

You do need stock, though. It can take a lot of inventory to fill a booth. And shows will want to know what you'll be selling when you apply.

Posted at 1:36 pm Jul 26, 2011 EDT

Thanks for the info! Its more than what I had!

I've changed my mind about doing a show this year, I've certainly found some but I'm not sure I have the time, energy, or money to gather the supplies to start a good inventory. I will probably go to a few more art/craft shows this summer and maybe take some notes of what people have and how much, and maybe talk to some people.

Thanks for reminding me about SCORE, I totally forgot about them!

Posted at 4:06 pm Jul 26, 2011 EDT

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