This isn't your average How-To.
I'm not even sure it's the best way to go about preparing.
But I always prepare.
So now I'll share my process:
1. Decide what art I'd like to pack in the car and haul across the country/city/what-have-you. This is generally decided at the point that I apply for the show since I have to submit a description of the art I plan to sell. Make a list.
2. Draw up a booth containing all the elements necessary to display the art you'd like to show/sell. This will include tables and displays that I already own as well as things that I don't currently own but that I might need to acquire in order to participate. In the upcoming show there are prizes for best booth. So I'm going to go above and beyond in booth decoration. If I can create something amazing. I'm having trouble brainstorming amazing.
3. If there's a display option that makes maximum sense and I therefore cannot live/show without it I will acquire this piece. For my show in two weeks I've decided I need a 4 foot folding table. Before I buy one I'm going to check around to see if I can borrow one.
4. Inventory what I have and what I need to paint or print. I make lots of lists because I can't keep track of everything in my head. Lists calm me. Also checking things off of lists is extremely rewarding in a career where no one checks your work or gives you raises.
5. Paint. It's a simple step and I use as much art that I already have as I can. However, I always like to present something new and I usually need new mini canvas paintings. This show is no different. I'm planning to paint 40 new mini canvases.
6. Touch-up existing paintings. Travel has wear-and-tear on canvases. Before each show it's important to make sure each painting looks as good as the day I finished it. Then I carefully re-wrap and package them to keep them safe until the show.
7. Pack art and display in carry-friendly packages. Ikea bags are a HUGE asset.
8. When all the lists have been checked and everything is ready it's time to pack the car like a Tetris game. Especially when you drive a Prius, like I do.