Previously, we went over all the challenges you face when you venture out to attend art festivals. You may be asking yourself; “If it’s so rough out there why does anyone keep going?” Good question. Obviously money is a factor. Art festivals are a great way to get your art in front of new people and all the marketing work is done for you. Besides the money though, the value of the human connections that happen there just can’t be overstated.
When you make art alone, day after day, you can lose your perspective. That piece you’ve been staring at for the last 3 days, for hours on end? You’re pretty sure the toddler could have done a better job at it by now. Then you hang it on your booth (because you’re pretty sure it sucks but hey, you got to fill the booth with something) in front of the streams of passers-by and something magic happens. You overhear the little gasps of joy, the delighted commentary on little details, the conversations of the feelings your work has invoked. Just like that you see your own work with their fresh eyes and fall in love with your profession all over again.
One of my favorite experiences is when I get the privilege of talking to someone who wants to do art but hasn’t had the confidence yet. Maybe they were making art a while ago but they’ve not done it in awhile. Something about my art will spark their appetite again and I tell them; “If I can do it, anyone can!” So many times these people come back to me the next year and they seek out my booth to tell me “I did it!” They show me their art and thank me for the encouragement. In those moments you truly have this sense of being part of something bigger than yourself, of a community built on appreciation of the beautiful things that make us all human.
The most precious of those encounters are when I get to talk to children and see their eyes light up with a newly kindled idea of making art themselves. I remember being a child. I remember the first time it occurred to me that I could make a career out of making art. When I talk to these children I’m so thrilled to think I might be a small part of another artist’s journey.
It’s a two way street though. I have a better connection with the people through festivals and the people have a better connection to my art (and to me) when they can see it with their own eyes. There really isn’t a comparison between experiencing a painting in person and seeing it represented digitally. There are some pieces, especially the larger ones, that you really have to see in person to get the full impact. Art festivals are where I’ve made my best repeat customers. Sometimes the monetary reward can be thin but often the pay off, both personally and financially, is incredible.