Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

Love it or loathe it, there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is coming. We will soon be placing the sprouts on a rolling boil and wading through a jungle of tinsel! This month, we consider the Christmas craft fair as a potential selling opportunity and provide a digest of some of the best websites offering advice on setting up your stall, branding and making the most out of these popular festive events.

This time of year is often one of the most profitable for artists and makers, with many opportunities to display and sell you work. The Christmas Fair is often a great place to capitalise on the gift market, test some new ideas and bring together a body of your finest pieces. This is a very rewarding way of selling your work, engaging with the public directly and making sure your art or craft work is seen by a large number of people. However, it does not come without its pitfalls.

When I first dedicated myself to being an artist full time, I was rapidly investigating different ways in which I could market and sell my work. I gave myself a year to try out galleries, exhibitions and fairs to see which events worked best for me. I have been flattered by an invitation to participate in a fair, only to proudly set up my stall alongside people who were no more than merchants - re-selling manufactured goods. To be selling work that has taken time to lovingly create next to mass produced goods will be hard work and demoralising, if you end up spending the entire weekend justifying your prices.

A word of advice - the quality of craft fairs do vary tremendously and it certainly pays to do some research. If you are considering applying to participate in an event, I would encourage you to spend this festive season visiting as many venues as possible, talking to stall holders and researching the fairs that would be the best fit for your work, with a view to applying for the following year.

You will find it beneficial to see the quality of makers attracted to particular events, their ranges and also prices. This will give you an idea about the type of fairs which might be the best place for you to market and sell your products. You will need to consider the costs involved in renting a stall, the number of visitors to each fair and also, don’t forget the costs associated with transportation and accommodation, if necessary. All of these elements will feed into the conclusion as to whether you will be able to make a profit.

The following digest of websites offer advice if you are considering selling via the craft market.

UK Craft Fairs

One of the best places to start is the UK Craft Fairs website. They offer a really useful listing of fairs which enable you to find events by county or discipline. Also, the website provides invaluable advice on selling at craft fairs and tips on marketing yourself.

Craft shows for dummies!

Website offering practical advice from pricing to display tips. Written by someone who has been selling to the public for thirty years, this article covers everything from marketing to talking to the public without being too pushy.

How to design your craft stall - hints, tips and tricks

Tapestry weaver Chrissie Freeth has written a comprehensive and detailed blog post dedicated to the art of selling at craft fairs. She explains, “to stand out, to succeed, there is far more to setting up your pitch these days than simply dumping your wares on a table. Your stall has to stand out, and it has to sell you and your business as well as your goods.”

Craft Fair Secrets - how to make a great craft fair display

Folksy, the online marketplace has a wonderful blog which is full of ideas and inspiration. In this post, they advise - “If you have spent time and effort creating beautiful handmade items for sale, allow enough time to plan your display and do justice to your hard work. A display should complement and highlight your work.” They consider the most important factors including branding, themes, stall layout, props and signage amongst other helpful tips.

Remember, if you have had a particularly good or bad experience selling at a craft event, then do share your story. You can do so via the comments box here, or we’d love to read about it on our Facebook Page. Best of luck, and don’t forget to get those sprouts on!