Art for a peaceful and flourishing world

Choosing The Right Canopy For Art Shows


When I am at shows, I am often asked about my canopy so I thought writing an article could be useful to many other artists.

The Cheap Canopy: Everyone’s Sad Experience

Many people that do their first outdoor show make this mistake: they go and buy the cheapest canopy from Costco or Wall-Mart with a blue, green or brown top. After the first show you will notice that the art does not display properly because it is dark under the tent and light is essential to make our paintings look beautiful.

After all the work, time and expenses it takes to get to a show we want to be at our best and maximize our chances to sell.

blue top canopyWhen buying a cheaper canopy, it may feel like we are saving money upfront, but long term I don’t believe it is a great deal. We cannot forget to add the time, money and energy we will also need in building display walls. These homemade things never look that professional; they are cumbersome, large and heavy to transport to shows. They also often add time especially if you need to bring your screwdriver and other tools to set up your complex homemade display…

The next thing that will happen with the cheap canopy is that it won’t protect our work adequately from rain. Many of them are water resistant (not waterproof) so water will run down our artwork or just collapse if it rains heavily overnight: Puddles accumulate on the canopy top and eventually from the weight of the water the seams give away and the weak structure break. When we arrive in the morning after a sleepless night worrying about our booth, we discover that our canopy  looks like a pretzel. At this point, hopefully we didn’t leave our work in the tent overnight…

Either way we blew $200.



The Best Canopies: The Pragmatic and Economic Way To Go

Canopy1There are in between solutions but I will only discuss the best solution: Buy the professional canopy from Flourish or Light Dome. They cost about $1000, more if you purchase awnings and hanging walls but ultimately this is how I see it: If you spend $1,500 on a good tent, it is only $150 a show after 10 shows, which is much cheaper than renting a tent. These professional canopies are spacious, luminous and very strong. The zippers of the walls will never jam or break, no water will ever come in and your art will look fantastic. The structure can also provide a great presentation at indoor shows, or it can be used in your studio if you need extra walls on the day of an open studio.

If you sell your art for 10 years at 5 shows a year, you invested $30 a show. After a decade, your canopy will still be in great shape and you would be able with no doubt to resell it if you decided that you didn’t need it anymore.

 Flourish or Light Dome:

Canopy-dome-airventAfter asking many questions to artists at shows, I chose with no regret to go with Flourish. Their structure is made of stainless steel, Light Dome structure is made of aluminium. The Flourish steel is heavier* but the extra weight works to our advantage in terms of anchoring and staying earthbound, especially on windy, stormy weekends, which eventually happen. Before I made my decision on which canopy to buy, I found from artists that a few had to eventually replace Light Dome aluminium parts that had broke after 10 years. Time goes fast, I’ve had mine for already 8 years and it still looks new. I also like the dome better, it is higher which really make an impression, it also makes a small 10’x10′ booth look more spacious than the regular cheap canopies. I love the fact that it has windows in the dome which can provide air flow on hot days. Heat can quickly gather in these canopies in the summer and people tend to enter and go “Wheuf! It’s so hot in there” and no matter how great our art is they basically don’t’ want to hang out too long under our tent… which is not what we want. Under our Flourish canopy, they find shade and great art to look at!

When I just started a colleague artist that had been doing shows for many years said to me : “You have to find a system that makes your set up easy or else doing outdoor shows will kill you.” When I get to a show, it takes me 45 minutes by myself to build my canopy, I always feel confident and ready in the beautiful set up I have.

I find buying the right canopy right away was the best decision I made! For more information you may check their clear and in-depth website

To also check out Light Dome you may go to:

*Note about the weight of the Flourish Canopy: The basic canopy is 130Lb, with additional features (with stabilizing bars and awnings it can be up to 200Lb which is what I have.)

For more information about the art that I display in my Flourish Canopy continue on my site!


  1. I concur with this article. She is right on.

  2. I’m looking for a art canopy, used if available

    • The Showoff canopy has served me well for many years

  3. Thank you so much for great information. One of my concerns has been about ease of set up. You say you do it on your own, but then you mention the weight and I think you are either superwoman or I’m just weak and old. Can you give me a bit more clarification. I’m trying to see if I will be able to do this alone. Also wondering about what it takes to transport this canopy. I have a large SUV about the size of a Land Cruiser, so curious about that too. Thank you so much for any info.

    • Hello Darlene, thanks for your message. I drive a dodge caravan. The bars fit in side way behind the driver’s seat. The bars are organized in bundles so I never carry 150Lb of bars! Building the structure by yourself certainly does not require to be superwoman. I do it by myself all the time, it takes me 45 min, I always take my time and move slowly, you could probably do it in 30 min. If you are worried of the weight go for a Light Dome. That was my main concern before I made my choice, overall you don’t really ‘carry’ the canopy around, you just load and unload bundles of bars. Over the 12 years with my canopy I have seen broken Light Domes after storms and long use. Mine is still like new and super sturdy in windy weather. I have no regret. By the way if you mention my name when you purchase (not the reason why I made this post) I think they send me a $10 or $20 cheque as a thank you (:

      • Most of those who use a “cheap” tent, me included, can’t afford $1500 at once. If you could pay for it in 10 installments of $150, more if not all would have the better kind.

        • I understand, that’s for another conversation… about budgeting! It’s a fine line to decide where money should be invested when are on a tight rope. If your art caters to an affluent clientele then investing in good presentation is a must. For me the risk of loss of inventory under one bad weather made me decide in my first year of career to bite the bullet. I never regretted it.

    • The Showoff has a helping tool for setting up alone at shows

  4. My EZ -up has finally mades its last show. I like the idea of a Flourish. I am a photographer and right now show only aluminum prints that are about 30×40 or larger. Do you use mesh walls or what system. I can send you some pics of my tent. Thanks david

    • Hi David, I highly recommend purchasing the mesh walls. They are light, easy to set up, professional. You don’t want to put these ugly metal grids around your booth or have a hand built wood system that will look so bad inside of your top class Flourish canopy!!! Again if you retire one day, you can sell all that equipment and it will look like new after years of usage. Good luck!

  5. I have a Flourish Trimline tent and have been using it for a while now. It is definitely a better tent for all the reasons you mentioned, but it nearly killed me the last hot day I showed my work in it. When you are exhausted, 200 lbs feels like 1000 lbs. Don’t be fooled, set up is a bear! These tents look so pro and mine is 10 foot tall. It is grand. I am considering a Light Dome Finale for the ease of setup and portability with fewer parts to deal with. I only wish I could get a 9 or 10 foot tall one. Trimline do adjust in height. It you do not have good physical stamina, I do not recommend Trimline. It took me 3 hours to setup my tent, panels and hang my paintings.

    • Hi Greg, I think your comment is very important. The weight is definitely the draw back but that is why it lasts for ever. If you are older or don’t have a strong constitution it’s true that putting up the canopy (especially by yourself) would be a challenge. I am glad you do mention that it is the best looking canopy out there especially if you buy the extra foot height on the legs. Now your three hours for set up… I am guessing 2h is to put your paintings up. It should not take more than an hour to put the whole tent up. Putting the frames up can take time because you have to adjust the hooks so that the frames line up etc… Light Dome is certainly a good choice too, I went back and forth between both and have not regretted my decision, 13 years later, my canopy still looks new. Thanks for taking the time to write this comment to help others!

  6. While this article is helpful, it is not accurate as it does not compare, “apples to apples”. The canopy to compare to should have been the Finale. The Finale is the same design/shape as the Flourish, it is higher also, which really makes an impression, it too, makes a small 10’x10′ booth look more spacious. The vinyl of the Light-Dome and the Finale canopy lets more light come through, so you don’t need the, “windows” in the top. On the hot, sunny days, you don’t need to cover any windows to block the heat. The Finale canopy does offer air vents on both ends to let heat escape.
    Knowing that I will be getting older, I chose the lighter weight of the Light-Dome. Nineteen (19) years and still doing fine!

    • Thanks Rebecca, I really appreciate your comment as it will help others to make their decision. The Light Done Finale is definitely a great choice of canopy, it was hard for me to decide between both. I do think it is a fair apple to apple comparison for quality, space, height, light, and price range.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This