For the last three months, my days away from the gallery were full of painting for my first ever outdoor festival. Here are the things I knew:
1) Waxhaw, NC is a small town
2) This was an "art-themed" event
3) A judge would be assessing all artists works
4) I would see lots of family and friends
Apart from these four things, the whole event was something new for me to try and give me a goal to paint toward. The two pop-up events I have had were quite successful and loads of fun, so I wanted to see what a multiple-day event would be like. Going home to Waxhaw felt like a safe and easy first festival experience and with the encouragement of family, I made the decision to work toward it. I prepped more than 40 new pieces and notecards, built display walls, purchased a tent that could help withstand any bad weather and designed the booth layout for maximum interest.
As you can see here, I pulled out my past experiences merchandising for Anthropologie and gallery curating to make my booth feel homey and welcoming all while displaying my work in an easy to digest way. Should I choose to enter another festival, I feel pretty confident in my display and am so grateful for that handy husband of mine and all of his help.
Display aside, I learned that this particular festival isn't for me. The majority of folks milling about were there to have something to do and not to see what vendors were offering. I saw very few patrons even stopping in to booths at all. I was lucky enough to have a few GREAT friends, new and old, come to support me. The other deciding factor on my not returning next year is the way in which the artists booths were judged. There was only one judge. Not a panel to provide balance, but one older man. Though this judge was a "seasoned" art connoisseur, it was very clear the moment he stepped into my booth he had written my work off. No questions about my process, what drives me, nothing. Just a quick glance and my florals and off he went. With so many styles of art, a panel would provide multiple view-points instead of one.
All of that said, this weekend was a great learning experience. I will have a better idea of what to look for in other events I may participate in. I am now prepared with walls, props and a tent for the next one. Most importantly, I will know to research events and align myself with those that fit with my style and have a dedicated and excited patronage - not a Spring Fling labeled an "Art Festival."
A HUGE thank you to all of you that came out to support me, it means more than you know! IF you weren't able to make it, have no fear! I have quite a few new pieces up on the site, so don't miss them.
Click HERE for minis
Click HERE for medium and large