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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Newbie at Selling at an Arts Festival
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07/03/2018 12:09:48 PM · #1
I have been accepted to a local event here in German Village, Columbus, called the "Art Crawl". Basically, it's music, beer, bands, and local art all on one long street. I've been assigned to someone's garage to hang my photographs.

In the meantime, hubby and I have put together a little framing studio. We are, by no means, pros at making them yet, but they look pretty good.

What I'm selling is the prints, right?

So here's a few questions for those of you who might have experience in this sort of thing...

Am I supposed to have a whole bunch of prints available on the spot? I don't know if I can afford that... Is it plausible to bring a laptop and have them order it online somewhere? I just feel like people like to walk out with something in their hands...

When framing, is there a rule of thumb for when to use a mat and when to let it bleed to the frame? When matting, do I sign it?

07/03/2018 12:44:21 PM · #2
To sell on the spot, I suggest you buy some of the matting kits...they consist of a mat, a backing board, and a clear bag to wrap it for protection.

They run anywhere from $1.50 each to $8 each, if you can use standard matting sizes, like 8x10 or 11x14. I've bought them from several places, but one of the best has been Golden State Art. The smaller ones can even be bought via Amazon (supplier Golden State Art).

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=mat+kits

e.g., for 8x10:

https://www.amazon.com/Golden-State-Art-Picture-Backing/dp/B017MYPIWG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530635242&sr=8-1&keywords=mat+kits

For 11x14 photos, I've bought these direct from Golden State:

//www.goldenstateart.com/2016x20-white-w-blackcore-for-11x14-backing-bags-free-ship-p-677.html

The problem of course is that this is not the normal aspect ratio for our photos (normally 2x3). But it's harder to find off the shelf mat/backing/bag kits for 10x15 or 12x18 photos. For that, I've gone through MatBoardsPlus. Then you pick the board size and then specify your preferred mat opening. You can even get 6 or 8 ply mats there, which are more expensive but nicer. The prices are good, but the shipping charge adds a fair amount, unless you spend over $150. (The kits from Golden State include free shipping.)

I've bought the 18x24, but I think I went for the higher end not the economy:

https://www.matboardplus.com/value-plus-show-kits/economy-show-kits/18x24-mat-board-show-kit-25-pack-economy/ - about $5 each for a 12x18 photo!

Here's my last order from them:
1 x 11x14 Standard Show Kit - 24 Pack
(Custom Opening? 7.5x11.5 for a 8x12 photo, Mat Color: Smooth White, Backer Type: Standard White Backer, Clear Bag Type: Protective Closure)
1 x 16x20 Standard Show Kit - 24 Pack
(Custom Opening? 9.5x14.5 for a 10x15 photo, Mat Color: Smooth White, Backer Type: Standard White Backer, Clear Bag Type: Protective Closure, Special Instructions: Please note the cut size, should be 9.5x14.5 to...)

I thought I had bought 8ply mats from them, but I don't see it. They do have them...but not in a kit. The 8ply 16x20 (with your choice of opening, e.g., 10x15) are around $11 each, so much more expensive.

But for outdoor show sales, I think the less expensive mat kits are better. Of course, you can still take orders for framed and larger prints, or sell the frame shots you bring with you.

Message edited by author 2018-07-03 12:44:30.
07/03/2018 12:58:02 PM · #3
I guess I got the 8 ply's from GoldenStateArt.

Here's a price for these as kits on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Golden-State-Art-Picture-Backing/dp/B077V35WYB/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1530636637&sr=8-5&keywords=8+ply+mat

And here's another option to get more:

//www.goldenstateart.com/set-of-30-16x20-8ply-white-mat-for-11x14-photo-w-back-bag-p-633.html

Oops I notice I linked to a blackcore frame in my previous message in the link to golden state art...i always buy whitecore, so make sure you decide which you want and chose.

Again, the 8 ply mats look much better, but if you want to keep your prices down, the 4plys work too.
07/03/2018 09:28:44 PM · #4
So Neil when you sell at these types of events what sells the best size and image type. How do you set your prices?

I've been asked to sell my photos in a gift shop and am trying to figure out what makes a profit which is hard to do without any idea of how many prints I will be selling....

Any sage advice?

Oh and PS.... do you sign your photos or do a water mark? Any labels or branding to a web site or facebook page? I'm stuck in the details at the moment!

Message edited by author 2018-07-03 21:29:47.
07/03/2018 09:52:49 PM · #5
You don't have to sell prints. You can just sell your framed photos.

We made a "catalog" by printing out photos on regular paper, and then offering to ship someone a print if they wanted it.

And be prepared for the possibility that you will sell nothing all day. It happens.
07/06/2018 12:39:31 AM · #6
Catherine--I don't sell at those type of events...personally, it's not worth my time to sit there (I make more by sitting in front of my computer). I made these to offer at my shows, and I've only had one show since I've done them. I didn't sell any of those at this particular show, which was in a very small historic train station converted to a gallery, off of the Mohawk River and bike path. I only sold one framed photo off of the wall. I only had the 16x20 mats with 11x14 prints for sale. Others who were selling smaller matted prints there did sell some.

But these are indeed the way to do it for shows, should you want to sell that way.

I price my prints to be worth any effort it takes to sell and keep track, so they're not "cheap". I don't sell a lot, but when I do, at least I know it's worth the trouble. A 11x14 or 10x15 print is $75 unmatted. Framed, in a $35-$50 Neilson Artcare frame (depending on when I got it), is $150.

I haven't offered any of the smaller ones yet for sale, but I would probably offer them for a list price of $75, and potentially discount them from that for openings.

Remember, it takes work not only to sell prints at a show, but to produce and mat the print, document sales, pay sales taxes, etc. (FWIW, I don't print my own photos, I use WHCC).

All of my prices offered are less than what I sell for online.

I think the key is simply to set prices to what you're comfortable with, to save the extra trouble of framing, and to have more stock on hand than you would if you only had framed prints. Even if you set prices like mine, occasionally if you want to move product, you could offer all matted prints at a 20% show price discount (or whatever). Discounts can be motivating to people.

07/06/2018 11:29:51 AM · #7
Originally posted by Neil:

Catherine--I don't sell at those type of events...personally, it's not worth my time to sit there (I make more by sitting in front of my computer). I made these to offer at my shows, and I've only had one show since I've done them. I didn't sell any of those at this particular show, which was in a very small historic train station converted to a gallery, off of the Mohawk River and bike path. I only sold one framed photo off of the wall. I only had the 16x20 mats with 11x14 prints for sale. Others who were selling smaller matted prints there did sell some.

But these are indeed the way to do it for shows, should you want to sell that way.

I price my prints to be worth any effort it takes to sell and keep track, so they're not "cheap". I don't sell a lot, but when I do, at least I know it's worth the trouble. A 11x14 or 10x15 print is $75 unmatted. Framed, in a $35-$50 Neilson Artcare frame (depending on when I got it), is $150.

I haven't offered any of the smaller ones yet for sale, but I would probably offer them for a list price of $75, and potentially discount them from that for openings.

Remember, it takes work not only to sell prints at a show, but to produce and mat the print, document sales, pay sales taxes, etc. (FWIW, I don't print my own photos, I use WHCC).

All of my prices offered are less than what I sell for online.

I think the key is simply to set prices to what you're comfortable with, to save the extra trouble of framing, and to have more stock on hand than you would if you only had framed prints. Even if you set prices like mine, occasionally if you want to move product, you could offer all matted prints at a 20% show price discount (or whatever). Discounts can be motivating to people.


Thank you Neil for the insight in how you handle your prices. I've had a wall in a gallery for 6 months aiming to sell 16x20 for about $150 framed and sales are few and far in between. I also have matted and unmated photos for sale in a gallery prices range from $75 to $25 depending on size and detail of the matting. Last year I produced calendars that turned out really beautiful and had only a handful of sales at a $22 price point... gave them mostly to friends and family as Christmas presents and they were very well received, but not sure it is worth the effort to produce a small run of calendars for 2019.

I was recently approached by an owner of a gift shop who focuses on ocean related items. She wants to sell my unframed matted prints that are ocean related (whales, jelly fish, seascapes, lighthouses etc) but wants a $20 price point after a 30% gallery fee. Unless I sell 4x6 matted to 8x10 I'm not sure I can meet her request and still make any sort of a profit. (ignoring my carrying costs for having to purchase mats in bulk).

I am trying to grow this hobby of mine into a business and it isn't a smooth and straightforward path.... Maybe online with a web site and stock photo will be the next area I look into.

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