Art Show Tips

by Paul Bielaczyc

For those of you that have been in plenty of art shows, feel free to skip this section. But for many of our artists, this might be one of their first art shows, so here are some tips I have learned over the years that I think you’ll find helpful.

Helpful hints for everyone

Bring business cards! Print them at home, go to your local printing place, or order them online, but you should always have a stack of business cards with your artwork so that people know where to get your stuff once the convention ends.

I always think about selling originals like winning the lottery, it is great when it happens, but don’t rely on it. If you need to sell stuff to cover your costs of attending the convention, prints are a consistent seller. Sales of bigger, more expensive originals happen, but not all the time.

Hanging Art

While art shows try their best to make the spaces 8 feet wide, sometimes the legs and supports can cut into the space by a few inches. I always assume that the space will be 4 inches smaller on the length measurement.

That being said, most shows (including JordanCon) do not put anything under your panels, so you can have your art hang down off the panels for some extra space. The actual hanging space of an 8′ x 4′ panel is closer to 7’8″ x 6′.

I would assume about 3-4 inches of space between the sides of any artwork, or between a piece of art and the corner of the bay. This helps keep your art from looking too crowded and busy.

Please remember that you are required to hang bid sheets from every piece of artwork. Most artists hang these from the bottom right or bottom left corner of their artwork. Hanging these consistently helps bidders find the correct bid sheet right away. Due to the shape or positioning of artwork, you may have to attach a few bid sheets in other positions, but most of yours should be in the same location for each piece of art.

If you hang bid sheets on the bottom corner of your pieces, you should assume about 6-7 inches between the bottom of a piece to the top of the one below it. A bid sheet is a quarter of a piece of paper. One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen artists make, especially mail-in artists, is that they don’t account for the space bid sheets take up.

My personal experience is that it is not worth framing most of your prints. Framing is expensive, making an affordable print cost just outside of a potential buyer’s price range. Frames get damaged when traveling to conventions, the glass breaks, or the corners get scuffed. And frames have to match someone’s house. It is usually best to mat your artwork, and let the buyer worry about the framing. I know that not everyone has access to matting supplies, so here is a really great place to get pre-cut mats for your artwork: Frame USA: Mat Designers.

If you are going to frame your artwork, please remember that an 18″ x 24″ frame is the size of the hole, but you also have to add twice the width of the frame to figure out how much space it will take up in your art show space. So an 18″ x 24″ frame might actually be 23″ x 29″ if the frame is about 2-2.5″ wide.

Most art shows (including JordanCon) provide clips and hooks to hang your artwork. This is usually all you need for hanging either framed or matted art. I usually tear up business cards to put between the mat and the clips to prevent the clips from leaving a mark on the mat board. You may wish to bring some spare material or cards to do the same.

3D Tables

If you are purchasing a table, make sure to ask the art show how big the tables are before you decide what to bring to the show. Nothing is worse than assuming an 8 foot table, and getting to the show to find 6-foot tables. Now you have too many pieces, and not enough table space to display them. And the flip side is bad too: showing up with too few pieces because you assumed a smaller table, and now you have tons of empty space between pieces.

Pack some small boxes of various heights for your display. I have seen many 3D artists put plain cardboard boxes under the tablecloths to add some dimension and variety to their display space. Or, if you have nice white boxes, you don’t have to put them under the tablecloths for the same effect.

Your table will not be in front of anyone else’s display space at JordanCon, so you don’t have to worry about staying low to the table, but if you have an elaborate set-up that is tall, please let us know so that we can make sure your placement in the show takes that into account.

I hope you find this information useful and remember, if you have any questions about the JordanCon Art Show, feel free to email us at

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