This follows on from episode one found here http://seatweaving.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-to-become-exhibitor-episode-1.html
You've done the leg work and the research, found a few fairs and events that you fancy and now you've just got to make the booking and prepare for the big day(s). So, how do you want the World to see you? Are you quirky, cutting-edge-super-modern, traditional, designer, cool, quaint, eco-friendly, romantic, sophisticated...... some, all or none of the above?
How you present yourself does matter. As a visitor walks past you he or she will more than likely decide in the first 2 or 3 seconds of seeing your stand whether or not to take a closer look. So it is important to transmit what you do and your style with a display that has the right impact on passers-by in a matter of seconds. How? The best way I've found is to look at other "brands". Let's take Tesco for example. They have a simple philosophy, (and a bigger research budget than me!). Plainer packaging is down to earth, good, wholesome "value", but the "treat yourself to the finest" range has a more sophisticated packaging design with lots of black. Ask yourself, when you shop at a supermarket do you instinctively look for certain ranges of goods by their packaging?
So using the same ideas, if you want an elegant look for say a jewellery display, maybe darker colours with a bit of sleek contrast here and there, perhaps a bit of rich velvet or silk will give the "treat yourself to the finest" look, (think Harrods). Or for an excellent value, fresh, wholesome and earthy look, (some soap, candles, honey and foodies maybe?) simplicity, natural tones, greens, beige, pale blue and ethnic fabric, hessian, some fresh flowers and gingham! There was a superb example of this at a show we were at recently, a lady potter with her beautifully simple pots displayed on tartan squares with a plain blue cotton fabric background - stunning! The colourful tartan showed off her uncluttered elegant designs to perfection. I was drawn to her stand and just had to have a closer look.
The things to avoid in a display. The colour red. Be careful how much you use, it can subliminally warn some people away, but is a great tool in small quantities to attract attention. Likewise bright highlighter colours like fluorescent banana yellow and fuchsia pink - use with great care! And untidiness, I know it can be hard sometimes, but try to keep it neat.
Okay, so that's an overview of creating an image, so once you've got an overall vision of that, what about the nuts and bolts of showing off your stock? Obviously how you do this is going to depend on what you make or demonstrate, so I'll talk in general terms. Most people walking past a display won't necessarily look at things that are below waist height or above eye line to begin with, so bear this in mind. Put your most eye catching pieces within that range to attract their attention. You could also use Leonardo Da Vinci's principle - the magic triangle. If you look at his art, there is virtually always a triangulation - in his Madonna and Child paintings your eyes are drawn firstly by the Madonna's face, then down to the child, then to the feet, they are the most detailed and brightest spots in the painting, you are then captivated and start to look around then into the background image. Arranging your stand with this in mind you can draw the customers eyes from one bright piece to another and hopefully gain their interest. So what are the basic essentials for display:
A table. You need a really good one, not a special offer DIY paste table, it will fall over or collapse if someone leans on it, (and they will....). Some organisers provide good solid tables at events, some don't, so when you make your booking ask if tables are supplied and if so, how big they are. Cover your table completely with fabric or something right down to the floor all the way around, then you'll be able to hide overstock or empty boxes underneath. Use drawing pins or self stick velcro to hold the cover in place.
Staging. Shelves, covered boxes, pegboard or any other means of adding height, depth and interest. I've seen some fabulous props used for this, vintage shoemakers wooden lasts mounted onto a base and used to show off jewellery, ornate wooden hat stands adorned with belts and bags, antique plant troughs full of pottery sitting in straw and butchers hooks to hang baskets from the gazebo roof. Just one word of warning though, whatever you do use as a prop make sure it is safe and secure! If you are outdoors use tent pegs into the ground for any tall display, or indoors bungee them to an immovable object, never assume the best case scenario, the one in our dreams where all of the children will be perfectly well behaved and no-one will trip over or lose their balance and all tea cups are non-spill - instead anticipate the worst possible event and make sure that your display can take it
Lighting. Not always a possibility and it usually costs extra to have power on your stand. However, if you have access to electric make the best use of it. Crystal clear directional light can change the look of anything, especially glossy items like jewellery and polished furniture or metal, but it will also show up any imperfections! Be aware that there are rules about using electrical goods at a public event, they have to be very new with a current twelve month guarantee period and safety labels intact or if they're out of guarantee they have to be "PAT" tested and certified for safety. It need not be too expensive to get this done, ask the fair organiser as they may well have a deal going with an electrician for all of their exhibitors. We know this because our son is a certified PAT tester and he arranges equipment tests at a very reasonable cost for our friend who organises antique fairs!
Okay, you've done all of that, so now practice! Set up your stand at home, move things around, look at it from all angles and ask everybody for an opinion. Mess about until you're happy.
Coo.......that was a lot of blabbering.........Next episode, all the other things you need to remember for the big day including how to prepare yourself.