Summer Market Recap: What I Learned as a Part-time Artist at my First Art Market in Years

Summer Market Recap: What I Learned as a Part-time Artist at my First Art Market in Years

Well, this blog is late, but that’s okay!

I did my first market in years back in July at the Brampton Summer Artist Market. It was a free market supported by the Brampton Arts Organization, and so I thought, “Why not try out a market again?”

And it was definitely worth attending! The people working at the city of Brampton were super supportive, it was very organized, and had a great crowd of people come through!

As this was my first market in probably 4 years, I had a bit of a learning curve and wanted to share my experience down below. So here are a few things that I learned at my first art market as a part-time artist, and I hope these help you if you’re just getting into it as well!

1. The Booth Display

Image of market booth setup with paintings, stickers, bookmarks

Oh my goodness, this part of the process drove me insane!! 

I was overwhelmed by all the amazing booths that I was seeing on Instagram, and I felt a lot of pressure to have my booth look perfect at my first market. 

I also found it incredibly difficult to find “card display holders” or “sticker displays” online. Then I realized that’s because instead of using those terms to search for those items, you should look for “nail polish rack,” “pot lid organizer,” and “brochure displays.” 

Would have been nice to know that starting out, but now I know for next time! 

There was also a grid a fellow artist (@justmaari) suggested I get to help add some height and hang my small original paintings on, as seen in the image above!

Next time, I want to add more character to my booth with some mushroom lights, a banner with my logo, and overall just add more of a memorable theme for customers! 

2. Figuring Out Payments and Planning Inventory 

Image of abstract paintings with two thought bubbles with logos for Shopify and Square in them

Payments were something that was overwhelming to figure out as well! Obviously, I knew I’d need a cash float, so I went to my bank and took out $150 in fives, loonies, and toonies. I just used a cross-body tote bag for cash, but in the future, I think I’ll use a little box or something, as that bag was quite heavy with all the change.

Of course, we live in the “tech age,” as the kids say these days, and I needed something to process payments. 

My site is on Shopify, but I wasn’t ready to invest in the Shopify POS just yet. The other competitors I was looking at were Square and Clover.

Ultimately, we decided Square was the most cost-effective way to start out, and it was great! I saw a fellow artisan (@hockleyvalleycraftingco) post on their story that they were selling their Square to upgrade to Shopify, so we were able to snag that for $30! And they added a little tea light sample when we picked it up, which was very sweet of them. 

3. Market Takedown 

I mean, takedown wasn’t that bad. I will say at the last hour of the event, it was such a whirlwind that both my husband and I were completely out of it. We were really happy with how well we did, but just socially and physically exhausted… and hungry!

I would say for my next market, instead of using boxes and reusable bags, I would like to upgrade to a collapsible wagon. I saw a fellow vendor use that (@acorn_pots), and their takedown was so quick it was magical. 

The wagon will be great for bringing things in without making as many trips and should be able to fold up nicely in the trunk. 

4. Profit Breakdown and Final Thoughts

Image of woman fixing cards behind market table

Overall, we did really well for our first event. We didn’t sell any original art pieces, but sold a lot of stickers, bookmarks, cards, and some small prints! The market was free, which was great, and we made about $220 at the end of the day. We were super stoked with this, especially as the average order was only about $10.

But I did get a commission for $300, and the client found us through the Brampton Arts Market website, so that was a win! And it technically brings our total up to $520. 

Of course, there were quite a few costs for this first market, such as getting product displays and ordering inventory. I would say this probably came up to ~$150, as we still have inventory left over for future markets to use.

Strategy for Future Art Markets

Beige background with graphics of a tote bag and buttons with geese and mushrooms on them

The strategy for our upcoming markets is to add tote bags and makeup bags/pencil cases to help increase the average order. As well, I’ll be making buttons that can go on the tote bags and selling them at my lowest cost point. This will just help expand the price range more for customers and increase sales as I continue as a part-time market. 

Also… A lot of art markets can be quite expensive to be a vendor at, so this will be important coming up to help cover the vendor fee!

Upcoming Art Markets

Speaking of upcoming markets, here are some market dates coming up that I have booked!

October 29, 2023: Toronto Made Market at Daniels Spectrum

November 18-19, 2023: The Mom Market at Erin Mills Town Centre

Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date on any new markets I add and to see more behind-the-scenes action!

Images are courtesy of Carly and Josh from @friendly_boy_productions and @cheekyrebelcreative

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