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If You’re a Niche Artist, Trade Shows and Conventions Might be Your Best Bet

Does your art tend to focus on one specific subject—like pets, cars or construction?

If so, why not display your art at a trade show or expo that matches your subject matter? There are literally thousands of trade shows and conventions that take place every year in the US alone. . . and some of them might be a perfect fit for your artwork.

Think about it: industry trade shows aren’t so different from art fairs. There’ll be lots of people (who happen to share a common interest) looking to buy, browse, and mingle.

Best of all, you might be the only artist there! And trust me, that will really make you stand out in the crowd.

Trade shows are often a bit faster paced than art fairs (depending on the industry) and more expensive as well—the amount you’ll pay to show your art will actually depend on the size and theme of the event.

Smaller trade shows might only charge you $50 for a table, or $100 for a 10×10 feet of space (many times you’ll have to bring your own table or displays).

Prices can go much higher, of course, especially for expensive industries in highly competitive venues, like an automotive expo in Las Vegas, for example.

Different rules and regulations apply for each trade show. Some might not allow artists as vendors, but it never hurts to ask. Event sponsors always want to fill the space, and if your art fits into the theme they’re more than likely to say yes.

On the off chance that you do get turned down, buy a regular ticket and go anyway—when else will you get the chance to network with people who are already passionate about the subject of your art?

Take a stack of business cards and talk to vendors and visitors alike. You might not make a sale, but you’ll definitely make a lot of contacts, and that’s half the battle when it comes to selling art.

To find upcoming trade shows in your area, I’d suggest locating the nearest convention center and then call or visit their website for more information.

I went to the Portland Expo Center’s website and immediately found several upcoming events that would work well for niche artists in the Portland area.

There was the Northwest Pet & Companion Fair (for artists who create animal artwork or do pet portraits), the Northwest Fire & Rescue Expo (for firefighting art) and the Military Vehicle Preservation Association Convention. (If you paint Air Force bombers or WWII tanks, this one would work for you.)

You can also check out www.biztradeshows.com for some of the bigger trade shows all around the world. Search by industry (like automotive, construction, sporting goods, etc) or browse to your own country and city.

If neither of those work, try searching Google directly. Type in the general theme of your artwork and the name of a nearby city paired with terms like “trade show” “expo” “convention” “conference” or even “seminar.”

Google doesn’t often fail me—in fact, you might want to try that one first. : )

Good luck!

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Yesterday I received a friendly email from a fellow artist inquiring about a summer art fair that I exhibited at in 2008. She wanted to know whether or not it was a 'good one' to attend, and after responding to her email, I got to pondering the very concept of the summer art fair. I have exhibited at summer art fairs since 1992, and normally attend between eight and twelve events each year. So. . . read more

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