Placing individual posters on the walls tend to be time intensive so more and more artists and art licensing agents are using banners to shorten the time in booth set-up. Vinyl banners rolled and placed into a shipping tube are light weight and easy to transport to a show. Note: Long paper posters can also be used. The artists that I exhibited with at the 2010 Atlanta Gift show used 2' by 5' posters printed by imagekind.com. They were printed on Epson enhanced matte paper and were "dropped-dead gorgeous." The only draw back was that the paper curled even with weighs placed on the bottom edge of the posters.
Banners can be taped to the walls or hanged from the top poles of the booth depending on how the booth is constructed. For instance, at Surtex the booth walls are made of eight foot high hard walls constructed with panel widths of 37-1/2" or 18-1/8" depending on the size of the booth. Many artists recommend using 3M Command Poster Strips* to attach the banners directly to the walls because they are easy to remove and does not leave a sticky residue. Other artists use s-hooks** to hang the banners from the top of the wall. Some trade shows such as the License & Design area at the Atlanta Gift Show uses fabric draped walls so banners should be hanged from the top supporting poles with s-hooks.
* 3M Command poster strips comes in a 48 piece pack that can be purchased in office supply stores and on amazon.com.
** s-hooks can be purchased in garden supply stores and on amazon.com. Metal bendable s-hooks with one side a larger diameter than the other works best so that it can fit over the top of the wall or pole. Hint: Bring two pairs of pliers to the show so that you can adjust the size of the diameter if needed.
Banner Details and Advice
Even if the booth size is advertised as ten feet by ten feet or eight feet by ten feet size, the inside dimensions often vary and could be less than the advertised amount. For instance, 10' by 10' booths at Surtex actually measures 9-1/2' along each wall by calculating the number and dimensions of the panels and panel connecting strips. Thus, if a ten foot wide banner is purchased it will be too wide for the booth. And if the height of the wall is shorter than eight feet and a 8' long banner is purchased it will be too long. It is better to purchase shorter and narrower banners because they will fit various size booths, cost less, are easier to transport, and the art on the banners will not be hidden behind table and chairs.
Vinyl banners come in glossy and matte finish. I recommend using a matte finish banner to reduce the glare from spotlights. However, I have heard that some artists had problems with the paint/ink chipping with matte finish banners. This may be caused by the printing process used by some companies but also if the banners are old, or if they are stored in too hot or too cold temperatures. Before ordering banners for the entire booth, it is advisable to order one banner from a company to make sure the quality of the images and color is acceptable and that the surface does not chip when the banner is rolled.
Note: Make sure that the size of the images on your banners can be easily seen ten to 12 feet away. Some artists and agents recommend that the smallest side of an image be at least 18 inches. My images are at least 12 inches.
Below is a list of some companies that print banners. There are many others listed on the internet but they either did not show their prices or they offered only few banner sizes.
Digital Pre-Press Services
FedEx Office (Kinkos)
Post-Up Stand Inc.
Below is a price comparison for a 3' wide by 6' long banner from the companies listed above. I think a six foot banner is long enough to display art because persons walking the show usually do not look at the bottom of banners and most of it will be hidden by the table and chairs anyway. Many artists exhibiting at Surtex prefer three foot wide banners because the banners fit well on the 38-1/2" panels in a ten foot wall booth or evenly span the panel connecting strips on an eight foot wall with 18-1/8" panels. However, I like to use a two foot wide banner because I can roll the banners into a shipping tube, stuff the tube in a backpack and have no trouble carrying it onto an airplane. If the banners were wider and thus the shipping tube longer, I would have to try to fit it in my luggage or check it separately when traveling on an airplane.