Prepare for Your First Artist Alley Checklist

I know first hand how frightening and ill-prepared you may feel to sell at your very first artist alley.

I remember the first time I signed up to share a table with one of my friends at a convention’s artist alley. I was so nervous at the thought of selling at a convention that I waited for months to finally say “Yes” to joining her.

My main fear:
Not making any sales.

Which ultimately stemmed from the fear of embarrassment and shame I would face from the perceived failure at not making any money at conventions.

My identity was tied to whether or not people bought something from me. If people bought from me, it was a success. If I didn’t make any sales, I would come back immensely disappointed and possibly never try again.

As it turned out, people did purchase my artwork and I made enough profit to feel like I can sell at conventions more regularly.

And so I did, increasing in income, followers, and appreciation for my artwork for 3 years.

Selling at artist alley has been an immensely rewarding experience for me. I was finally in an environment that appreciated art and my ability to create art, completely different from the environment I grew up in.

The artist alley changed my perspective of what was possible for me and my creative inclinations. And it provided me with the social support I needed to continue pursuing a creative life, something I thought was impossible to do financially.

Before I leave you with the checklist I’ve created to help you prepare for your first artist alley table, I just want to leave you with a deep, heartfelt reminder:

You are not how much you sell. You are not how much money you make. You are not how many compliments you get. You are not how many product lines sold out. You are not how many people waiting at your table.

At the end of the day, you are not the results of having an artist alley table.

You are You and nothing can replace You.

You show up. You share your work with other people. You engage with other people. You appreciate the opportunity to be among other artists and art appreciators. And you are present with the whole artist alley experience.

That is what matters most, I believe: your experience.

So take in everything that a first artist alley experience has to offer. Take it one step at a time. Take a moment to breathe. And take moments to enjoy and relax with your friends, new people, your artwork, your table, your soul, resting in an environment that fills you with joy.

And if you don’t enjoy it, that is a valuable experience, in and of itself. Take it all in and learn. Nothing is ever wasted.

And with that, I leave you with my artist alley checklist. This was last revised mid-2018 and was meant to be simple, short and to-the-point, so you may get started right away (if you like). This list may be updated at any time as well as supplemental posts regarding artist alley.

Please note that there are many artist alley checklists out there. If this one does not suit you, you are welcome to continue your search in the vast digital landscape called the Internet. ^_^

Thank you for listening and enjoy the following checklist, my friend.

Truly,
Tuyet

***

Prepare for Your First Artist Alley Checklist

After signing up for a convention table:

1. Get some business out of the way:

  • Sign up for Sales Tax Permit/Business License (Check convention and state government site for details on obtaining permit/license)
  • Get a credit card reader to collect card payment (Square, Paypal, or Etsy are some options to consider)

2. Product Production:

  • Review your past artwork (and make the most of what you already have)
  • Design new products (What would you like to add to your offerings?)
  • Research places for product production
  • Order test products (at least 3-4 weeks in advance)
  • Order final products (at least 2 weeks in advance)
  • Optional: Order packaging supplies (i.e. plastic sleeves)

3. Price Your Products:

  • Determine the cost of each product
  • Price your products higher than the cost of each product
  • How much more? It’s up to you! What price feels right to you?

4. Set Up Inventory Sheet or Enter in an App to Track Sales, including:

  • Your price per product
  • Number of products in inventory
  • Separate sales for each day of convention

5. Decide on Your Display:

  • Design your display on a sheet of paper or digitally
  • Determine display items you will need (don’t forget a table cloth!)
  • Gather/purchase display items
  • Create signs for products and prices
  • Practice setting up your display with products and signs

6. Travel Plans

  • How to get there (driving, flying, etc.)
  • How early to get there
  • *Find place to stay (hotel, Airbnb, friend’s place, etc.)

Driving:

  • *Buy gas
  • *Research convention parking locations
  • *Bring cash for parking fees
  • *Bring cash for toll
  • *Record/take picture of mileage/odometer before and after con for tax purposes

Flying:

  • *Book plane ticket
  • *Determine ride to and from airport (rent car, taxi, Lyft, Uber, etc.)
  • *Download Lyft/Uber if needed

7. Determine Miscellaneous Supplies You May Need for Convention and Gather Them (You can use a supply list on my website to start.)

8. Optional Purchases:

  • Business cards/business card holders
  • Banners

9. Pack Products & Display Items:

Recommended: Pack with a travel suitcase

Suggested packing order:

  • Pack heavy products at the bottom
  • Products
  • Signs
  • Display items (i.e. Grids, PVC pipes on the side)
  • Table cloth on top
  • *Display stands diagonal or carry outside

10. *Pack Personal Items (If staying more than one night)

BONUS CHECKLIST!

After Conventions:

  • Check physical inventory against recorded inventory/sales
  • Determine how much sales tax to pay
  • Set aside sales tax to pay at end of month, quarter, or year, depending on your situation
  • *Update social media/send out emails

*= Only if applicable

THANK YOU!!!

I hope you found the checklist helpful! If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me.

I also chill like an artist so feel free to hang with me on social media (see website footer). ^_^

Artist Alley Travel Supplies List

Below is the checklist I created for my artist alley courses back in 2017-2018, but I knew in my heart I wanted to make this list available for free for other artists to use. So here it is. ^_^

While this includes the list of supplies I used myself, I encourage you to use this list below as a list of suggestions and a beginner’s step to finding the supplies YOU will eventually need for your own care, well-being, and preparation for your artist alley travel.

We often worry about the supplies we need for our artist alley display and sales, and massively plan for those, but we often forget the supplies WE need to BE in the artist alley and enjoy our tabling experience.

Food, water, a sweater, proper weather attire, and a helper (while not a supply) can help us stay awake, healthy, and energized throughout the convention weekend. Remember, you or a helper is expected to be behind your table at all times. Consider restroom breaks and exercise as part of your convention days as well.

Speaking as an artist alley veteran, I just want to say: Please take care of yourself. I’ve observed many artists letting go of a healthy diet, sleep, and exercise to prioritize their sales and work in the artist alley.

I did that for 3 years and burned out.

Nothing is more important that your health and well-being, my friend.

You won’t be able to sell anything well unless YOU are well.

So take care of yourself. Good, GOOD care of yourself.

And with that, here is the Artist Alley Travel Supplies List, last updated in mid-2018. Enjoy!

Truly,
Tuyet

P.S. If you haven’t already read it and need it, here is the Prepare for Your First Artist Alley Checklist.

Wishing you good health and a joyful journey. ^_^

***

Artist Alley Travel Supplies List

Artist Alley Check-In

  • Government-issued Photo ID
  • Sales Tax Permit

Artist Alley Survival Kit

  • Water
  • Lunch
  • Snacks (preferably healthy)
  • Napkins or paper towels
  • Cell Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Portable battery bank
  • Bag to store garbage and/or food

Display Items

Varies for everyone but main things are:

  • Your products
  • Tablecloth
  • Tall display items (i.e. display stand, PVC pipes, or wire/plastic cube grids)
  • Assistant display items (i.e. clips, connectors, tape, hangers, rope, etc.)
  • Signs (i.e. prices, products, credit card accepted, etc.)
  • Small table stands and displays (i.e. table easels, cork boards, business card stands)

Miscellaneous Supplies

Other supplies to consider:

  1. Art portfolio
  2. Packaging materials
  3. Pencils
  4. Pens
  5. Markers
  6. Sharpies
  7. Scissors
  8. Binder clips
  9. Tape (artist tape, masking tape, duct tape, and/or clear packaging tape)
  10. Hand-sanitizer or wet wipes
  11. Paper or Sticky notes for notes
  12. Banners
  13. Business cards

Art Supplies for At-Con Product Production (i.e. commissions, etc.)

  • *drawing paper or sketchbook
  • *clipboard or artist drawing board
  • *pencils
  • *erasers
  • *pens
  • *markers
  • *watercolor paper
  • *watercolor

*Depends on the artwork you create

Money Exchange

  • Cash for change*
  • A money pouch, fanny pack, waist bag, or cash box
  • Card reader for credit cards
  • Inventory list and/or sales notebook for recordkeeping

*To bring the amount of bills suitable for you, assume the common cash type people use and check your pricing structure to predict the common bills you would use for change. Bring more of these bills with you at the convention.

i.e. In US, people commonly pay with $20 bills. If you have lots of $10 or $5 items, bring lots of $10s or $5s. If you have lots of items less than $5, bring lots of $1s)

Note: You usually can’t go wrong with bringing lots of $1s and $5s. $100 worth of $1s and $5s would suffice. You will also get the hang of how many bills to bring with you as you go to more conventions. If all else fails, ask your artist neighbors to exchange for smaller bills. We artists are always out to help ya! =D

Packing

  • Suitcase
  • Containers for products and supplies

If staying for more than one night:

  • Convention Clothes
  • Sleepwear
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Comb/hairbrush
  • Other electronic devices and chargers you cannot live without

*Flying

  • Plane tickets
  • Government-issued ID
  • Travel size containers
  • *Passport (if traveling internationally)

Pin It on Pinterest