"What if I've never done a show? What do I bring?"
Every first show is nerve-racking for a lot of people. A mixture of excitement and nervousness, but remember that everyone is there to have fun and talk about their craft. The advice I'm going to give here is simply a matter of my personal opinion as well as experiences from other larger shows I have worked for in San Francisco. You don't need to abide by any of this! Remember, it's YOUR show.
There's pretty much a guarantee that you'll forget at least one small item. It's okay! My first show I forgot to get batteries for my lights, so a few of them died during the middle of the show. Another lesson learned, get batteries and get good ones!
The first and most prominent thing to remember is that any display you set up is also a representation of YOU.
This is why we'd like to plan these at least two months in advance to give everyone a chance to prepare the best they can. I always encourage people to make it fun, and engaging!
Bring a fun table cloth, unique displays, colored lights, banners, (banners are a huge plus) candy or snacks to hand out to guests. Business cards, email list sign-up sheets, social media links, anything with your info that people can take with them - remember you want to have fun, but also network effectively!
Lighting is probably where most of the trouble resides with first-time participants. Even though the Arlene has decent lighting, it's always good to bring at least one portable light for each piece you have so people can see it in a spotlight. To single-out each piece draws attention and typically makes people more interested. Portable LED lights are relatively inexpensive, and can easily be purchased online. (Remember to buy extra batteries!) These are great for photography: RITE LITE
My personal favorite is the raffle giveaway for guests. I've held raffle giveaways at previous shows in SF that generate over $200 in ticket sales in one night at $2 per ticket. Our events at the AFC have a different approach because they're a non-profit. We include raffle tickets with the event entry ticket and your raffle items are displayed with others in the front so people can see them when they arrive.
Bring your best work, and find the happy balance of how much to bring!
Having too much going on in your display can often look scattered and chaotic rather than enticing and productive. I have found it to be very effective to keep things fun and simple.
See the image below from a RAW show in SF.
Straight-forward and simple, with a banner to identify the artist. Photographer display: Jon Batario
Now this does in fact depend on what you have, and what size it is but generally speaking I would suggest a minimum of five items and a maximum of 10. Maybe 15. What you may try and do is pick out your best pieces, and try not to make them repetitive. For example, if you're a photographer who loves portraits, I would advise not displaying too many of the same portrait. One or two shots from each shoot you pick from, maybe keep the photographs next to one another. (I swear I don't have OCD....) Like I said, this is only my advice coming from what's worked very well in the past. You don't need to listen to these suggestions.
Last but not least, and probably the most controversial ,is your demeanor. A reminder that I want everyone to be themselves and have fun, but I will bluntly state that these events are intended to provide an aspect of professionalism.
My most recent event raised concern due to a couple of participants who were highly under the influence and incomprehensible during conversation and stage introductions....I will only say it was not alcohol or cannabis. Those are the least of our problems. There is alcohol served, but I would advise maybe holding off on getting plastered until you leave!
One of the most primary reasons behind what I do, and try to do for others, is to open the public's eyes to the "individual behind the stereotype," so to speak. Alternative art, or alternative piercings....As normal as it is for us, it's still unusual to other people, and I'd like to sort of prove that we too can be professional and behave like adults. To reiterate, this event is a representation of YOU. Not only you though, but anything you do reflects your event center, and anyone involved in trying to pull it off. So please, BE PROFESSIONAL! You're not attending a rave, or a house-party.