Show Lights

Tips and Photos of Great Lighting in Craft Booths

You really only have a matter of seconds to capture a customer's attention at a craft show, and good show lights can help you do that.

Lighting is one on the most overlooked aspects of booth design. It can be tempting to want to skimp on purchasing lighting for your booth because the effect of good lighting isn't always as immediately obvious as the impact of other display items you buy or create. However, good lighting really is important. It highlights your work, and makes your booth more enticing. I hope the photos below will help to illustrate that point.

Things to Know Before You Buy Show Lights:

Planning your craft sohw lights
  • Ambient lighting is general lighting used to light the overall booth.

    Don't assume the lighting in the hall where the craft show is held will be adequate. Normally convention hall lighting is far from adequate to light up your booth and show your items to their best advantage. Track lighting is commonly used for ambient craft and trade show lighting, but you can also use several clip on lamps at the top of your booth.

  • Accent lighting is lighting that is directed at a specific object.

    You can use accent lighting to draw attention to and highlight specific items of interest in your booth.

    Flexible arm lights or clamp lights are good for creating spotlights to highlight specific items and can often be purchased for a reasonable price at department or large home supply stores. If you display your work on shelves, you can also use small puck lights installed on the under-side of the shelves to illuminate your work.

  • Avoid using one single, large light to light your booth.

    Several lights throughout the booth will make a better impression and add dimension to your craft show booth.

  • Be very careful about using fancy effects such as motion lights.

    These effects may be useful in other trade show settings, but it's not typically a good fit for craft shows.

    Lighting should enhance your product; it should not be the central focus of your booth. Good craft show lights are not really noticed (unless you turn them off and notice something is lacking in your booth). Customers at shows should notice your products, not your fancy lighting.

  • Consider using mirrors to enhance your lighting.

    Mirrors can reflect light and help you to get more impact from your show lights and add sparkle to your items.

    Do be careful with mirrors at outdoor shows. As the sun moves across the sky, it can reflect in the mirror (when it may not have when you initially set up your booth) and cause a strong glare. If you use mirrors, check your booth at different times of the day to ensure there is no glare in customers' eyes.

  • If you're trying to achieve a high-end luxury feel, consider using a single light for each item.

    Granted, this can be a pricey suggestion, so you'll need to consider your budget before you commit to this look. However, if you display a few, very special, high end items, this type of lighting can be an effective way to create a luxurious gallery look in your booth.

  • If you are investing in creating a high end booth for more competitive juried art and craft shows, consider hiring a designer who is experienced in creating this type of booth to help you with your show lights.

    Again, this can cost a bit of money up front, but it can save you money you might otherwise waste on purchasing lighting that doesn't really work in your booth. And it can pay for itself if your well designed booth increases your sales.

    I worked with a designer on some of my marketing materials, and she had some helpful insights on booth design that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I found her through networking, and got a discounted price as a result.

    If hiring a designer is out of your price range or doesn't appeal to you, visit a lighting specialty shop where staff will be very well informed about the effects of different types of lighting. Talk to staff there to get ideas for your show lights. Lighting needs will be different from person to person depending on the type of products you make, the way you display your products, the types of shows you attend, and the effect you want to create. The lighting that works in your friend's booth might not work in your booth, so taking the time to get some good advice from a lighting expert can help you avoid bad purchases and save money in the long run.

  • Be sure to check with show promoters for guidelines regarding lighting at shows you plan to attend.

    There are usually rules about lighting, the amount of power you can use, and the way you need to plug in your lights. Normally you'll find this information on the show's website and/or the application form.

  • When you have purchased your lighting, set up your booth and approach it from different angles to see if any lights need to be adjusted.

    Consider how the lighting functions. Does it illuminate the whole booth? Are important focal points highlighted? Does the lighting shine in your eyes or create a harsh glare in any places?

  • While you have your booth set up, leave it up until the evening, and look at your booth in a darkened space with just your booth lights turned on.

    Experiment with different placements for your lights. This will help you get a clearer picture of the effect of the lights in your booth without being impacted by other sources of light.

  • Be careful with lights that can get hot.

    Do be very careful about using lights (like halogen lights) that can get very hot. Be sure any lighting is out of the way so customers won't accidentally bump into your lights (especially super-hot ones) and burn themselves.

  • Consider how reliable your lights will be.

    Although you might be tempted to buy the least expensive lights you can find, do consider reliability when choosing your lights.

  • Ensure lights are not too heavy.

    Often sturdier lighting is also heavier. Do take weight into consideration if you are hanging your lighting from the frame of your tent. Ensure that you are able to reliably attach your lighting to whatever type of frame you are using so they are safe and secure.

Halogen Spot Lights for
Trade Show Displays

Display Booth 150W
Halogen Spot Lights

Halogen Clip-On Light

Some Examples of Craft Booths With Effective Show Lights

Lights clipped and wired around the top of the booth frame at an outdoor show. Tiny spotlights fit perfectly with this delicate tableware.
Puck lights on the bottom of each shelf illuminate this dark, elegant booth. Track lights across the back of this booth provide plenty of ambient lighting.
Notice the foil over each light at the top of the booth in the picture below. It diffuses the light to create a softer effect. Light strips under each shelf illuminate the white tableware and bring it out against the richness of the deep blue background.
Jewelry booth lighting secured up high so no one will bump into the hot lights. Tiny spotlights under each section of shelf provide good illumination in this booth.

Halogen Spot Lights for
Trade Show Displays

Display Booth 150W
Halogen Spot Lights

Halogen Clip-On Light

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