Artsfest this weekend was a lot of fun and definitely a worthwhile show! It was really nice not to have to rent a car or hotel room for the weekend to do the show either, since it's about 10 blocks away. I also got some really cool news on Saturday morning, related to my art, but I have to scan in an image before I can post it.
This post is mainly a review of my experience at this year's Patriot News Artsfest here in Harrisburg. It's as much for other readers as for myself, since I'd like to write up my mental notes while they're still fresh in my mind.... I've already been saying the show went well enough that I'll apply to do this show again next year if I can find a friend to stay up here with (since by then I'll be living down in DC and admittedly still don't make enough at *most* shows to cover hotel expenses).
This show was in Riverfront Park, same as Kipona (but further north, I believe). It was much much better for me than Kipona in that I made up my show fees (jury fee, booth fee, bathroom pass WTF fee) the first day. The 2nd day wasn't as great and the 3rd day (Monday, Memorial day) was by far the worst. Which was funny because a lot of artists had been saying Monday was supposed to be the best day! I didn't have high expectations, thank goodness.
At this show it seemed like the patrons were mostly interested in the smaller inexpensive items. I didn't sell any of my 11"x14" matted to 16"x20" prints. I didn't really see anyone carrying around bags with BIG art in them until Monday, when they must've had a chance to see everything they wanted to see and make their final decisions on what to take home. New for this show I made little 5"x7" prints of my "30 Bugs in 30 Days" ACEOs with colored borders. People really seemed to like those, I sold a whole bunch! I also sold a lot of greeting cards (they are 5"x7" and as so they can be framed, they just aren't archival) and mousepads (they're made from recycled tire rubber). Things for me to keep in mind next year- I don't need to go crazy making inventory of my bigger prints.
There was a dinner for the artists on Sunday night which was super, super, super nice of them. I've only been to one other show that did that- Portsmouth's Seawall Show. At both shows my husband and I got to sit and eat with other artists, all of whom were extreeeeemely nice. Have I ever mentioned before that 99.999% of the artists at these shows are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet? I stand firmly behind that statement :)
This was also the first year they've charged admission to the show. (Hooray! I say.) I heard from many artists who had done the show before, and some volunteers, that attendance was way, waaaayyy down from other years- likely because of the new fee. However, I also heard multiple patrons walking by saying things like "If I had to pay to come in here, I HAVE to walk out with something to make up for it!" I'm not sure I get that logic... but as a vendor, I didn't mind that mentality. I'm not sure how many people think that way- if you pay a fee to get into an art show or something like that, would you be sure to bring home something to make sure it was worth your money to get in?
One weird thing about this show was the bathroom situation. On Saturday morning some folks pulling a wagon with beverages in it walked by yelling, "Orange juice? Water? Coffee? Bathroom passes?"
Of course since I can't just pop a squat and go to the bathroom in the corner of my tent, my ears perked up. I hadn't thought to look for bathrooms but I had seen port-a-potties a block or so away from my booth and just assumed those were for everyone. After asking a couple of the other artists and volunteers at the show, I was enlightened: The outhouses were available to us artists, but there were people who would 'man' them and keep them [relatively] clean and pump soap into your hands for you and give you paper towels at the handwashing station. And of course they do it for tips. Ok... fine, whatever. Also a church, a block away in the opposite direction of the outhouses, was selling bathroom passes for use of their bathrooms. They had two bathrooms, each one was private, it was [relatively] air-conditioned and clean and... well... private and clean. Bathroom passes from the church cost $10 (for the 3 day weekend) and the money went to the church. I'm not a church person at all but cleanliness + privacy > outhouse every single time, so I went for that option. Plus I figured after tipping the folks at the outhouses, I would've easily gone through $10 by the end of the weekend anyway. I have to say though, it was a little bit of a shock to not have bathrooms just provided to the artists as part of our booth fee, since we had to pay $300+ for a spot. I've never been to a show where bathrooms weren't provided for the artists. (Then again at other art shows, food isn't provided, water isn't provided, a place to sleep and shower isn't provided, so why should I assume bathrooms would be?) I'd almost rather pay an extra $10 or $20 for my booth that would go directly to whoever is providing bathrooms/keeping them clean, just to not have to worry about figuring out the bathroom situation when I'm there or making sure I have a dollar on me every time. Maybe I'll invest in a chamber pot and not have to worry about this again.
The other slight inconvenience of this show (that is completely unpreventable and no fault of the show, just something to keep in mind if you're an artist considering it) is that it's friggin DUSTY. I wasn't even on the side of the park where the grass/dirt is (but I did have the back of my tent open on the last day) and my stuff is still covered in dust. I remember things being really dusty after Kipona, but I was also right in the middle of dirt and dust where everyone was walking. This year I was on the street. I thought about dusting things off for the last hour of the show on Monday, before pack up time, but that wouldn't have done any good because the most dust is kicked up by the artists ourselves as we pack everything up- kicking heavy containers around, shaking out our tents and tent walls, fluffing out packing materials, etc. My car is still loaded full of my crap and I plan to dust everything off before putting it away in the garage! Not saying at all that this is anything bad about the show, just something in my mental notes that I need to make sure I remember for next year.