Trade Show Graphics Tips

To get a full appreciation of the trade show graphics business, you need to recognize the different types of client needs. In most cases the needs are directly proportional to the actual booth area they take at a show, as well as the booth hardware they own (not always the same size). Here are some observations and tips for meeting your client’s trade show graphics needs.

  • Most show graphics are for a standard 10x10 (as they are called, due to the fact that the actual show floor space is sold in increments of 10' x 10').
  • A popular type of “pop-up” hardware system is assembled using an expandable frame that has panels (usually 29'' wide) of carpet attached with hooks cut into the panel at the top and magnetic strips along both sides to allow the panels to grab the frame of the booth. When set up, it is a large piece of vertical carpet ready for any graphic that has the hook half of a hook-and-loop fastener on the back of it.
  • These days, most 10x10 booths are curved so the graphics that are to attach to the booth must be on flexible materials. Also in the same 10' x 10' space you might find a 6' table, and a few chairs. Typically the backdrop of the 10x10 would be Pipe & Drape, which will be 8' high and have drapes hanging from it to separate the booths. 
  • Once you get larger than the typical 10x10, you get into custom-made exhibit systems. It’s important to note that not only do these cost a lot more to purchase and to set up, but the booth space is also much more expensive.
  • For small booth clients, the big sellers are 15-mil Lexan/polycarbonate graphics. You can print these on reverse printable Lexan and then back it with vinyl, or print on paper and then laminate the prints. Another big success for small booths are roll up banner stands. A simple fitted tablecloth is also great. Keep in mind that whatever you make, you most likely will also ship. 
  • For larger booths consider hanging banners (fabric works best), wall wraps or wall murals, floor graphics, life-size cutouts, large roll-up banner stands or monitor wraps. Some of the prints will be double sided and others will be custom cut. Make sure you do Pantone Matching on the prints, as clients for shows are very picky about their company colors.

I suggest using a matte or crystal finish on your show graphics because show lights are bright and will cause glare on luster or gloss images. The durability of the graphics is best using crystal laminate. Remember to package all the graphics very well. Assume that UPS/FedEx will destroy the graphics that are the most valuable (just kidding).