Monday, August 10, 2009
First Art Festival Report
I'm back -- tired, not much richer, but very happy for the experience. Here are some photos -- one shot of some fun visitors and a few shots of the festival and my booth.
First of all, let me say that the festival organizers worked very hard -- the tents were provided, there were volunteers who were great with helping to load and unload, bottled water was plentiful and provided to artists for free. There was free coffee Friday night and Saturday morning. There were plentiful booth sitting volunteers on Friday (but could not find any on Saturday). The portable restrooms were the best I have ever seen (on a big spacious trailer) and wonderfully clean -- this may seem indelicate mentioning, but it was definitley something that made the experience much more comfortable than it might have been otherwise.
I found setting up the framework exhausting -- much more pressure and less space than the driveway added to this I think. Volunteers were very helpful with helping me hang my artwork and with tear down/load up. I am very glad I took a demo piece to work on, not only did it attract attention like was intended, but it really helped me enjoy those long hours more. I did enjoy meeting people -- all of whom were quite friendly and complimentary to my work. Children, mostly aged six to twelve, were really plentiful and quite interested in looking at the work and the prints -- often much more thoroughly and with more questions than the adults. I had not really anticipated this and found it delightful. Several artists were quite complimentary -- and this was very much appreciated. Some aspiring artists asked for advice, and this was also flattering, and I did realize I have learned alot over the last few years and felt gratified being able to be helpful.
Sales -- I paid for my Friday night motel -- that is better than nothing. I would certainly have liked to have done better, but like I said, it was better than nothing. I sold a couple of prints (one a child chose -- her mother made her look at all the vendors before she was allowed to have it, but she came back for it -- and that was great!) and five greeting cards. The guy selling handmade brooms, six to thirteen dollors, next to me did great. The guy behind me, who came from Buffalo, N.Y. (his daughter lived locally) sold some big ticket watercolors to some doctors (there are two regional hospitals located in this town). I heard him say this, I could not see him once my wall was up. Otherwise, I heard some artists stating that the majority of visitors were lookers and the economy kept people from buying. I really don't know, I could not leave my booth enough to really look at at other people's booths that much, let alone talk with them. I was able to talk to my neighbors -- the broomaker and a fabric artist, alot, though.
Businesswise, however, at least ten visitors expressed an extensive (versus more casual) interest in commissions -- I believe at least some of them may actually follow through. A lady who runs a touring company expressed an interest in me showing and demoing (and she would pay me!) at her regional dinner destinations -- something I never would have thought about. I find that quite exciting and will call her this week. Several people expressed an interest in learning more about colored pencils. I have been thinking about doing some workshops and this really makes me think about pursuing that sooner rather than later.
I wish I could do another festival or two sooner rather than later -- but without a complete tent and most deadlines past I do not think that is possible yet this year. I think I do need some grid like structures for ease of set up though for smaller venues. I may do some farmer markets and animal related venues yet this year, since I have inventory ready, but I think I need a less extensive set up for these. Dunno yet, maybe with more practice, that booth won't be quite so difficult.
There was a little rain, I packed up over night because of it. The guy next to me poked the tent roof with a broom handle in the morning and I got a flood on one wall, after I was set back up -- but salvaged everything o.k. The bugs (we were over water, remember) really gathered on those white walls. I had to work on getting them off in the A.M. and was also glad I packed up because of them, too. I also clamped up the bottom of the walls so they would not get wet. Overall, the weather was great, but I did get a little sense of how fragile one is in the great outdoors.
Well, that is my report. Summary: I am VERY tired, but VERY happy for the experience.