My father used to tell me that farmers farm because they love farming. He would tell me that real farmers would rather do the work to go from planting to harvesting than let the field be fallow and collect subsidies.
In many ways, this applies to artists. Over the many years I have been directing art festivals, I have seen this passion to make art through thick and thin emanate from artists. Like artists from centuries ago, the making of art is a magical experience that drives artists. For many, it is a spiritual experience. The word inspiration even attributing the creative process to something spiritual, bigger than us. The old testament talks about people creating artifacts in the shadow of God…the first creator.
Artists often talk about wanting to make art since childhood and hold early memories of making art. I recall Agnes Rathonyi telling me of her earliest memory as a child making a drawing with a piece of burnt wood charcoal on the side of a barn in her native Hungary. I recall my own background as a very small child watching artists paint at the local art school and knowing I wanted to do that too, and the delight when at age 5 I was in my first oil painting class. There are those who find their passion for art later in life..and its flames burn as brightly for them.
The story of the poor artist permeates art history. The artists who nearly starved as they painted masterpieces, scraping their little money to buy pigments and linseed oil. And…we hear the stories of those who have realized during their lifetime as well. Romero Britto, a current art-star in the field of pop-art is such an example. Britto’s work is on buildings, on cars, and a range of buyables from umbrellas to luggage. He has made it as few do as rock stars in the field of art.
Some degree of success is being in the right place at the right time. Some success can be attributed to the quality of one’s art. For many artists who make art, their early public showings are at street art festivals. Recently I heard internationally renowned jeweler David Yurman talk. If you don’t know who Yurman is, let it suffice to say that he and his family are the private owners of a world wide company selling his modern jewelry, best known for his cable bracelet design. A store just opened on the Mag Mile in Chicago. Yurman talked about his early years, showing his sculptures at street art festivals. The rest is history.
So how can an artist make the most of the street art experience? Is it just the art they show? ? I spend a lot of my time mentoring and talking with artists about this very thing. The first point is that everything matters: The art, the way the art is finished, the way the art is titled, the way the art is hung, the way the artist looks, the way the artist talks about their art, the way artists answer questions put to them, the way the art is priced, and so much more. Yes: frame out in a consistent manner, title your work, hang on mid-lines, talk simply yet passionately about your process, demonstrate when possible, price your art at levels people will buy at, then raise your prices as you develop a following. Answer questions clearly and directly. Handle your art whenever possible. Wear solid colors so you don’t compete with your art.
A few artists have the ability to go from introverted art maker to extrovert on the street showing their art. For most artists, it is challenging, and takes years to refine their selling skills through trial and error.Some find success, some give up.
While art is now available for purchase on line, as in the case of our own ArtZipper.com site, there is no substitute for the customer being able to see art in person when making the decision to buy or not buy. The feedback form the public is rough, raw and direct. Art festivals provide immediate “crit” from a diverse population.
Some years ago, I decided to mentor artists through our free seminars called Art Fest Boot Camps. Through these free seminars, I strive to pass on information that will make a difference to artists and assist them on their path to success. The next Art Fest Boot Camp is April 28 from 10 am – noon at the Highland Park Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois. Interested artists can register at Amdurproductons.com I will address the variables that will make a difference to an artists success at street art festivals. Attendees will leave knowing how to talk about their art, knowing how to best display their art, and knowing the multitude of variables that will contribute to their success.
I hope to be part of more success stories that help artists in their lives as artists.