Slightly delayed, but herein lies news of last weekend’s activities at the Menomonee Falls Chilly Fest/Warm up to the Arts show! And I have also brought pictures, which makes this post even better. And with this being my first show/fair/thing ever, I definitely learned some lessons.

The booth

Setting up the booth! I made a few slight changes before I was done, but from left to right, there are prints, books, greeting cards, and magnets.

First lesson learned:
Even if you think there will be tables and chairs or other set-up items there for your use, bring your own!

I arrived in the middle of set-up thinking that there would be tables provided, only to very quickly learn that I had been mistaken. Luckily, I had both my lovely parents there with me, and they were able to run home to grab two lightweight folding tables that my mom and I use in our craft/studio spaces. It only took them about 15 minutes turn-around time, and I was back on track. My set up was relatively easy, and even with the hiccup, I was ready to go before the official starting time.

Business Cards

Business Cards! Each hand-stamped with my logo and edged with the same color ink.

Second lesson learned:
Make fast friends with someone near you.

The woman one booth over from me was as friendly a neighbor as I could have hoped for my first show/fair/thing. We talked for a good portion of the day, and she shared some of her snacks with me. It certainly made the time go faster, especially when the banjo man started getting a bit overwhelming. Yes. You read that right. The banjo man. We were sharing a space with a man that plays (and makes his own) banjos. I think that, even a week later, I could probably still do his little spiel by heart.

Greeting Cards

Hand silk-screened greeting cards. I was rather adamantly told that I was not charging enough for these. I will likely raise the price in the future.

Third lesson learned:
Don’t choke on a piece of hotdog bun at lunch.

That should really go without saying on any day, but I apparently could not heed such sage advice.


Magnets! I need to alter the frame to add a backer-board to it, as it was quickly decided that the see-through option was too distracting.

Fourth lesson learned:
Don’t get discouraged!

Easier on some days than others, I suppose. Plus I had that rush of first-timer’s excitement. That doesn’t mean the day didn’t get long, or that I don’t wish I had sold more. But I know I did better than some people, and for a first show that was more about getting out there than actual sales, I was pretty happy.

A selection of handmade books, including accordion bound and Japanese stab binding (soft and hard cover). Plus a few tiny pamphlet books. I ended up selling the blue accordion book!

Fifth lesson learned:
Talk to everyone.

This one’s a little trickier for me at times, but I figure it’s good to remember. If I hadn’t talked to everyone, I would never have been able to have a conversation with a man that does commercial level silkscreening as his job, and actually knew what my silkscreened prints were! Neither would I have been able to talk to the woman that owns one of the studio/galleries in our area and who very much encouraged me to do more local shows this year. Both conversations made me feel good and, along with a few other things, really gave me some confidence to keep going with this.

All in all, while 6 hours doesn’t seem like a long day, I was pretty well exhausted by the time 4pm rolled around. I was able to break down my display in a matter of minutes, and I was home far before I thought I’d be. Like I said, I didn’t have many sales (no prints), but neither did anyone else, really. This was less an art fair and more of an add-on to the larger festival going on outdoors (we were inside, thank goodness!), so it leads me to believe that events that are specifically art-oriented would be much better.

And that’s my next goal! I’m currently pricing out some tents and thinking of booth set-ups. The next one I want to try for is in May, which I know will come quickly. I need a few more things to sell and a few more ways to display. But this got me off the ground, and it feels good. Still scary, but good.

[All photos courtesy of M. Lang. Thanks, Dad!]