Display Tips for Your Next Art Show

Planning to exhibit your work at an art festival or fair? Use these tips to showcase your art beautifully.


art show booth

Ceramic artist Brenda McMahon’s display


Make your collection cohesive.

A well-presented body of work contains elements that all relate to each other. The collection should show a variety of pieces that all express one signature style. An effective booth display will present your art or handmade work in such a way that the group as a whole makes a big impact and a statement about what you do.

Give each piece some breathing space.

The photo above, of ceramic artist Brenda McMahon’s outdoor show booth, is a good example of this principle. An overcrowded display is confusing, and can make your work look like commodity items, cheapening them. McMahon has carefully placed each piece of her saggar-fired ware, with sufficient space between each one to allow it stand alone. Your work deserves to be treated as “special” and thoughtful use of space will achieve this.

Keep backgrounds neutral.

McMahon’s booth display uses this to great effect. A simple black backdrop doesn’t fight with the art in front of it. Instead, it allows the subtle patterns and colors of the ceramic surfaces to pop. Black is the perfect choice here – a bright color or busy pattern would clash with the earthy tones of the fired clay.

Great lighting sets the stage.

If you have access to electricity, use it to brighten your booth as much as possible. One of the biggest mistakes artists make is not understanding the power that light has to showcase your booth. Avoid shadows on your work by hanging lights to shine from three directions. There is nothing like a bright beautifully lit booth to draw a crowd and pull people in from the aisle!

Encourage touch if possible.

Textural items naturally appeal to one’s sense of touch. Handmade products that are displayed near the entrance to your booth can attract visitors who want to feel the softness of woven goods, natural stone or clay, or other pieces that aren’t too fragile.

Even if your work must be kept in a case for protection (such as expensive jewelry), be sure to place some items on the countertop which are within reach and use this to aid in the sales process. Place items into shopper’s hands whenever possible – this increases the potential of a purchase. Let your customer feel the weight, the finely finished surface, or the quality of materials you use to create your work.

Use handmade or natural displays.

Many times, your handmade work shows best on a natural background rather than hanging on fixtures that have a more commercial look. Artists often use stones, natural wood, beach glass, or other display materials to enhance their products.

Many artists create displays that are lightweight and portable, and also incorporate these essential elements. A well-designed booth will give a more professional presentation and draw attention from prospective customers.



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