So another blog post about what worked well for me this year at my first trade fair. I've written these last few blog posts, in the hope that they may be of some practical use for other designers and makers who find themselves in the same position as I did 6 months ago, having applied for a large fair, and having never done anything like this before, and quite frankly, feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all!!
Designing and decorating your stand:I think I'm going to have to break this one down into a couple of posts otherwise it might go on for ever!!
Luckily I had the help of the a very talented designer, but there is lots of help and inspiration out there to enable you to gain an idea of how you want to display your wares. When you apply to the show you and your application is approved you will need to find out the exact size and specification of your space. You'll need a plan of the venue if possible so you know where you will be placed and then you need to maximise your potential and plan your space well. I downloaded a copy of the shell scheme from the company who supply to BCTF so I could get an idea of size/layout and also optional extras you could order.
I was lucky enough to be allocated a corner stand. My first reaction to this was 'Oh no, I only have two walls'. I felt that the majority of my work was wall based so I was losing out... BUT (how wrong could I be?) once I thought about this more logically I realised I could really make this work for me. The fact that I had a corner stand could be turned to my advantage as it was more open and I think people felt they could enter the stand more easily and not feel uncomfortable about this. It was just more accessible, being open on two sides rather than just one!
I think where you place yourself needs every careful consideration, and I placed myself just off to the left side so I wasn't blocking the view of my stock. I known I'll not always be lucky enough to have this enviable position but it really did work well for me this time, leaving the stand open and allowing potential buyers to explore without feeling hemmed in.
I would defiitely advise attending the venue beforehand if you can so you can get a practical idea of how it is put together. I really struggled with visualising how everything would work. If you can't do this, another option is to set out the space in a room in your house so you get an idea of how big it is. You can then try different options for layout. I do tend to think, less is more, and tried a minimalise uncrowded approach to my stand design. Also, you could speak to other makers who have attended the venue before, most people are happy to help and give advice to newbies I have found!
As I wanted to make a really good impression on my first time at BCTF I tried to think of low-bugdet ways we could just add something a little different. We decided on a skirting board idea for around the base of the stand and bought wood and painted it with my design. This was then cut down to the correct size on site and it fitted a treat.
There are many ways you can clad your walls, MDF panels, tesxtiles, printed vinyls, hanging panels, made-to-measure panels, or you can even just leave the walls as they are and display your work on furniture or on plinths. This just needs research and an idea of how much money you have to spend.
Furniture: as you cannot store any items behind your stand you need some idea of how you are going to store spare paperwork, business cards, drinks, snacks, mobile phones and keys. I picked up a small bedside table from Argos and painted it white and put one of my designs on the front. Other exhibitors used drawers, boxes, old crates, antique items. The possibilities are endless... again dependent on how much money you have to spend. I think it's amazing what a bit of lateral thinking and imagination can do!
For the next instalment I'll be showing you the different layout options we came up and how we decided on the one we went with in the end.