What I learned about hosting my first Queer Art Faire with over 200+ attendees, 40 vendors ❤
Written on Sunday, March 12, 2023. The first Queer Art Faire: Saturday March 11, 2023.
Over the past three months, I’ve been organizing Queer Art Faire with a lot of support from my friends, family, network, and beyond. High school friends that I had not seen since art class. Elementary school friends who I used to trade birthday cards with and make stationery with who had now in adulthood, built their own thriving businesses. Strangers who were looking for a place for their art, while “other places charge up your ass.”
The large art fairs in San Francisco are geared towards a specific audience — and when I say specific, I mean one that priotizes artists who work on their craft full time, and have a lot of resources, both financial and privilege, to take up space.
I wanted to create what I wanted for myself — a safe, inclusive, queer BIPOC centered market for selling quirky, weird, cute, cool art that allows new and emerging artists to be seen and heard. New connections. Community. Business. I wanted to create the space I couldn’t find.
And that’s what I did.
Over the past 24 hours, I saw over 200+ attendees get flash tattoos of cherries and zodiac signs by Flash by Stace, buy amazing prints by Inky Print Shop, laugh and smile over ube and pandan cupcakes by Cake Therapy, friends greet me and thank me for building a space for them to shop, countless happy customers sharing with me what they found at the fair. I saw all of the people who supported my mission come together to throw an amazing event.
I wanted to document what I’ve learned over the past 3 months organizing and from the actual day of.
Day of Learnings:
- If you are going to have the fair run by donation only, make sure you have very clear asks posted for attendees and vendors. I made the mistake of not being upfront and more clear that I wanted attendees and vendors to pay $5-$15 to support the event. In the future, I will make it more clear that attendees and vendors will pay at least $5 to join the event. I believe this is a reasonable cost, but I wasn’t more upfront about it so many attendees who walked in to the event did not know.
- Costs are not too bad, but the time involved in community building is neverending. We accumulated over $450 in material costs, excluding labor, to pay for marketing, poster materials, and design. I was the web master, my friend Katrina who was also a vendor designed the poster and brand, and my friend Annie helped me with printing out posters amongst so many other things (thank you Annie!) The larger resource needed was time: I found myself spending each night reading emails, responding to emails, updating the website, fixing the website, marketing our Instagram, maintaining social media, and more. It was a lot of work, and I could not have done this if I had a separate full time role. (I do work full time as a founder, but it’s for community building ❤)
- Vendors are going to apply to the fair and sometimes they aren’t going to be the best fit, that’s okay. There were a few vendors that were less succesful, but in my own analysis, it was really only two. And I don’t doubt that they still enjoyed seeing the energy. At first, I felt a bit concerned, but I realize that I do not have control over market forces and that all vendors still appreciated spending time at the market.
- You need food and coffee. I will have more catering (looking for a catering partner!) and have a coffee vendor next time as well. :)
- Afternoon weekend time works better that noon time. It was very slow in the morning from 11–12, makes sense — people probably eating lunch, but at 1–3pm it was POPPING. So much foot traffic and activity.
I was so happy to see all my friends come together and enjoy time together. The dogs were so cute. We had a dog treat vendor, Cody’s Treats, and we put them in the perfect location — the front. :) I am so lucky to just have amazing vendors come to me — so many people I had never met before reached out and asked to be a part of this. I am so grateful.
Other things I am grateful for ❤
I am so grateful for my partner for helping me run the event, set up and and clean the venue. I am so grateful for my friend Annie for being emotional support and logistics and planning lead. I am so grateful for my friend Katrina for donating her design services. I am so grateful for Vercel for easy deployment of code. I am so grateful for the team at Pebble Bed for allowing me to host QAF at their Warehouse. I am grateful for my mother for selling her jewelry and bringing my dog Ben Ben. I am grateful for all the amazing cupcakes and baked goods we had.
I am so grateful for all the beautiful art pieces I got to see and pick up. I am so grateful for my friend’s partner for being emergency security guard. I am so grateful for the people who came up to me and offered to collaborate and connect. I am so grateful. Thank you all for reading and being a part of my journey — I am so grateful.
See you at the next QAF in June. We will have lots to do. I hope for each QAF to be bigger, brighter, and even more successful than the previous one. Take lots of care, fuel your soul, and stay tuned for more photos of the event! (Thank you to my friend Alec for taking photos!)