Part of that impression involves the art, part involves the artist. I could have easily boxed each piece and handed it to the client that way. But I truly believe that the first impression not only reflects the quality and craftsmanship of the art but also reflects on the artists ability to look and function professionally and make an overall good impression.
The fundamental rules of displaying art should always strive to include:
Budget and space do not always allow for big or fancy displays. I use nothing high quality or expensive.Its all in the presentation. Even an old piece of cloth can make an effective presentation. Most of my lights are $7.00 hood lamps used for automotive work and bought at the local hardware store. I only use daybright bulbs to get the purest white light possible. On rare occasions I will use a colored bulb if I think its appropriate. I use simple shelving units from my local hardware store for pedestals covered with black cloth. These shelves allow me to adjust the height of the presentation without any hassles.
Consider also that other art in your space should be given attention also. You want the client to look at other pieces besides what they are purchasing. This should also apply to visitors coming to your work space for other reasons. Keep your work prominent as often as possible.
And don't forget that even the effective presentation of your art supplies can make an impression. Your studio may be a bloody mess when your working alone, but a quick clean up before arrival can make an impression. I often use candlelight effectively. It doesn't mean I don't use high wattage bulbs also, but a little ambient light can't hurt.
Your overall goal should always be to impress the customer when they first see the work. Cover the work with a cloth to make an added flourish of unveiling if you wish. Consider that you want the person to come back and see more later.
If you keep the basics rules of displaying in mind your art will look better and your viewer will respond to it positively and never be aware that you may have had to use simple cheap items to create the effects. Be as creative as you can be and you that first impression will not be forgotten the moment the viewer steps away from the art.
Always remember: DON'T LET THEM FORGET YOU!
Here are some additional photos of various displays over the years.