Featuring helpful hints on promoting your appearance at Art Beat, setup and teardown info, what to pack, and much more!

Written by Guest Blogger Dennis Anderson of Artists of Michiana…Unleashed!
Artist Liaison, Art Beat Veteran
July 7, 2017

NOTE: For more information, and in-person advice from Dennis and other Art Beat committee members, visit the Art Beat 2017 Artist Information and Resource Event on August 4th.


Howdy to all Art Beat 2017 artists!

Art Beat is less than 5 weeks away! While still plenty of time to get ready for the big day, it’s never too soon to start scratching down notes and checklists. Check out these keen tips for Art Beat preparation and don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you’re new to Art Beat.

Right NOW is the time to start putting ads out on social media announcing the show, announcing your appearance. Give a generalization on location (because you do not have your booth number yet); simply say, I’ll be in Art Beat, Downtown South Bend on August 19th from 11am until 7pm. Share the Art Beat Facebook event page with everyone you know, and feel free to post your work in it. Think of it as your Teaser promo. Definitely talk up the show and the fact that you will be there. Start to build up some hype now. People make plans and you will want to be on their list of things-to-do! What social media outlets are you utilizing? Get those ads everywhere; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat… whatever you utilize. If you have an online store, make an announcement there as well. Update your personal website or send out those fun mass emails. In utilizing social media sites, I encourage you to use and utilize hashtags. Some people still think that they’re silly. Oh buddy, they’re not. This IS the way that people find things is through hashtags and you’re more apt to gain the audience that you’re looking for, if you use them correctly. The hashtag we use for Art Beat is #dtsbArtBeat Please use this in your ads, it will be interesting to monitor the hashtag in the coming weeks.

Being a good booth neighbor
We’ll definitely talk about supplies, booths, etc. but right now let’s take minute to chat about… being a kind neighbor. One of the things I typically worry about, no matter what show i do, is my neighbor. My hopes are that my neighbors are cool and considerate. I wanna talk about that first because I think it’s important for each of us to respect one another’s space AND your neighbor’s right to set-up just as quickly and efficiently as You. There’s been many times when I’ve arrived to my spot and my neighbor, while super friendly, sorta overlooked the fact that their pickup truck is still just sitting in my spot, or in the street… making it rather difficult for me to pull up and unload. It’s never been a huge issue and I have no problem with asking you to move. I realize you’re setting up, it’s stressful… but my advice is if you’re asked to accommodate your neighbor, please show some of that kindness and remember that this person will be right next you for about 8-9 hours. The streets are tiny when you have several trucks unloading in smaller area. Unload your truck or car onto the street and have someone watch your stuff while you move your vehicle immediately. If you don’t bring along a partner, ask your neighbor to simply keep an eye on your stuff while you move your vehicle to a nearby parking lot and huff it right back! We’re all out there for the same good reason, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t all help each other out. By the way, that early in the morning with all of the staff on hand and officials in the streets, I’d say that you’re safe even if you’re totally solo. But remember you’re not! Be a good neighbor and I’m sure you’ll be treated the same. We will have staggered set-ups throughout the morning, based on your Booth Number. Odd Number booths may come at 8 a.m to set up, Even Number booths may come at 9 a.m. to set up, and at 7 a.m. we will have a special “Early Bird Setup” for anyone who feels they need more than 3 hours to get their booth just right.

Let’s now fast forward to teardown. In the past, this has been chaotic, but last year was amazing. I feel like it was because I drilled it into your brains the past several years. It’s one word: Patience. I believe that the common rule should be to tear down First. Take down your display, box everything, get it actually ready to be loaded and then pull around. Pull as close to Your spot as possible and communicate with your neighbor. Kindness goes a long way. Load up and patiently exit the area. Be patient, be accommodating, and think. There’s no way on earth we’re all getting our trucks and cars in all at once. Common Sense should prevail. please. Again, I’m one of you as well. Being on the committee has helped by being a liaison between Art Beat/Downtown SB and us… you the artists. So please don’t think I’m picking on you. I’m right there on the street with my work as well and yes… I patiently wait for my neighbors to clear out before I attempt my own loading. This message goes out to Everyone showing at Art Beat, new folks and seasoned veterans take heed: the show ends at 7pm not 6:45. There are still people in the streets and no one will be allowed to pull their vehicle around until the strike of 7. I’m not saying you can’t start a 10 minute early teardown if things look slow (believe me, it won’t be slow all day) but I don’t want to see vehicles coming down a still-busy street.

Each space is measured out equally. You’re allowed space for one 10′ x 10′ tent. Some tents actually measure a tad larger when they’re popped up, especially the non-straight legged versions. There will be an allowance for this, but you need to respect the space. You can’t cram a 12′ tent in there, doing so pushes the rest of the spaces out of whack. You need to follow the pre-painted guidelines along the street. They’re not hard to see and if you have a question, grab an AB volunteer. A couple years ago, we had someone just show up and “make” a spot next to a legitimate booth space. This can’t and won’t happen this year. Organization – being organized has a price… and that is to simply follow the rules set forth. Again, if you see a booth setting up in this manner, or if someone’s nabbed your booth space and refuses to move or communicate the problem, grab an AB person or come down and grab me (Dennis).

(side note: Have you bought your 10′ x 10′ tent yet?)

Your Art Beat Booth
This is going to be a long one… but it’s stuff I want all of you to think about and consider while gathering your belongings for Art Beat. First thing: do you have a list? Lists are great.

  • Your Art
    While this is an obvious list item, consider this too: when someone buys the art, are they just gonna carry off with it or do you need to provide a box to protect it? Or a plastic sleeve to protect your print or original? Bring packaging along. Buyers have just paid a pretty penny for your item and while it might be something they can just carry with them, what if it’s a gift? Think about the buyer and how they’re gonna transport this item home. I sculpt and often worry about my pieces breaking on the way to the show. I equally worry about that piece making it to a buyers home once I’ve swiped their card and handed them my weird sculpt. So I lessen that worry by bringing along enough packaging to ensure that the customer can continue shopping without going all the way back to their car (or I offer for them to pick it up after they’re done walking around).

Also think about how you’re hanging your art or displaying it. Remember to bring your hooks, tie straps, tables, crates.

  • Tent 
    You’re gonna need it, trust me. Bring your tent. Your walls if you have or need them. Your tables and shelves. And here’s something that I’ve forgotten in the past: a chair or two if you have a buddy. I also bring along sand bags to weigh down the legs on my booth. I’ve been to many a show when the wind’s been way too much for my liking. An art booth will go up like a kite if it’s not properly weighed down and it will take down everything in it’s path. One of the past suggestions was table cloths for your tables. I think we’re all artists here and know what kinds of “flair” we need to make our booths “pop” or not.
  • Water and food
    You Need to remain hydrated throughout the day. It will likely be hot and sunny (Ii hope and pray) and you want that. If it’s hot and sunny, people will come out in droves but you will be hot under that tent all day. Bring water. Bring food to snack on so you don’t turn into Joe Pesci during the show 🙂 Bring your shades for when it’s bright and hot.
  • Your “business” items
    These are the things that you use for transactions and sales, keeping track of your inventory and promoting yourself if you don’t make the sale:

    • Receipt pads if you use them.
    • ​Cash for change. People still carry cash and it’s an awesome thing at Art Beat, but make sure you can break a fifty. Bring along a cash box or something to hold your monies.
    • a card swiper for accepting credit cards because not everyone does carry cash. I use Square.
    • a calculator (your cell phone has one)
    • your business cards and promo materials. Make sure these are placed where people can easily see and grab ’em quickly. Offer it to folks if they seem interested in your work. Constantly sell yourself… or not. Whatever works for you.
    • pens. sharpies. a pencil behind your ear.
    • I bring along a minor “tool” kit of items that you can’t go wrong with having. These include: a roll of masking tape, a roll of duct tape, scissors, a package of 8″ nylon tie straps, a pair of short-nosed wire cutters (to cut the nylon ties), a canister of cleaning wipes, paper towel, Gorilla Glue and a pair of pliers.
    • guestbook/mailing list. This is really handy for helping to build your audience. You can follow up after the show with a thank you email. It shows you care, yo.
    • ​Bio? Having a bio up in your booth really helps, especially if you’re not particularly sociable. Sometimes you will be so overwhelmed with people, or a sale and you just won’t be able to talk to everyone. No way. People are impatient and they go “oh, I’ll come back” but will they really? Just having more info about yourself around helps out. A quick bio tells about some of You and if that person doesn’t get a chance to say hi, they can walk away with some personal knowledge about you and hopefully your card in their hand.

So there you have it friends. We’ll all be hanging out together in a few weeks. I think it’s a beautiful thing. So much beauty and contrast of styles and characters. The whole thing is fun for me, but seriously, bringing together the area’s artists is just the best. I feel like we worked hard to recruit Michiana’s best this year. and I’ll be diddly-danged, they all said heck yeah and signed up. So here we go!

-Dennis A.