How to Hang Art in a Trade Show Booth

With all of the art and design shows going on in New York City this week–and plenty more coming up in the next few months–we thought it would a great time to address a tricky task that ILevel frequently gets called in to address: How to hang art in a trade show booth.

There are a number of challenges that are often faced when installing art at a trade show. For one, there’s usually not much time to set the booth up, and the art must still have the appearance of being permanent and secure, despite the fact that it’s actually temporary. Plus, walls and construction in most trade show booths can be flimsy.

“Installing at an art fair booth is more akin to store display or set design,” says George Terry, an ILevel employee and installation expert. “Everything happens fast, and gives the appearance of being permanently installed (while some things are literally held together with velcro, cheap screws, and Gaff tape).”

An ILevel installation at a New York trade show
An ILevel installation at a New York trade show

Here, George shares a few of his best tips for hanging art in a trade show booth quickly and securely.

  • Think carefully about what you bring to the show. It’s questionable to hang a 300 lb. piece on a flimsy trade show wall.  If there are heavy or unusual works to be installed, let the directors of the fair know beforehand, since they may be able to properly engineer the walls for this.
  • Always hang on at least two points so that frames stay level. Remember these walls will get bumped a lot. If something heavy is being hung, try to distribute the weight among several hanging points if possible.
  •  Walls are usually plywood, or MDF so screws are usually the best, as hammering in picture hook nails can shake other things that may already be on the wall.
  • Be very conscious of what is happening on the other side of the wall, since there is usually there is another booth. Hammering into these walls could displace a neighbor’s art. Also, these walls are thinner than normal walls, so be careful of the length of screws and hanging hardware, so as not to put a screw through the other side of a wall.
  • Hang pieces at heights and placements that look good from inside the booth, but also pay attention to how the work looks to viewers approaching the booth. You’ll want it to be visible from oncoming angles to attract fairgoers into your space.
  • Try to organize the installation of booths so that everyone is not working at the same time. Art should be the last step in the process, so try to have walls, floor, and the light rigging installed before you install art or schedule ILevel for installation.
Another ILevel job.
Another ILevel job.

Still need more help? After years of experience, ILevel has become very proficient at hanging art in trade show booths. “We will only install things by our exacting standards for secure hanging, and even in the warp speed pace of these fairs our staff is so proficient we rarely have any problem meeting the time lines–or quality standards–for the install,” George concludes.