Two of the art festivals we produce, both in Highland Park, Illinois, have youth divisions that feature young artists between the ages of 6 and 18. I, myself, was in an art festival when I was just 5 years old. Did it impact me? Did I learn from it? Absolutely. The art festival was one of my first public success experiences and helped lay a foundation of success for me in my life.
The Business of Art
Being in an Art Festival takes planning. From the time a young artist signs up to be in an art festival until the date of the event there is much to do.
Inventory, which in this case is art, must be developed and readied. Will the young artist make paintings? Drawings? Photographs? Ceramic bowls? Jewelry? Functional pieces? Over the years that I have had Youth Art Divisions I’ve seen art as unique as handmade marionette puppets, candles, wallets made of duct tape, bowls made from melted records, friendship bracelets, comic book characters and much more.
How can parents help?
Let the child take the lead. If they want to make jewelry, great. Is drawing their thing? That’s ok too. Whatever the child loves to do….(as long as it is safe and affordable) support them. I recall one summer when my daughter made dozens and dozens of sculpted covered pens. There was another summer when she spent the summer making her version of Jackson Pollock splatter paintings (she made $600 selling them that summer.)
Inventory, in this case art, must be priced. What is the cost of materials? How much time went into the piece? What is a reasonable price in the community? How much demand may there be for this work? Basic economic theory is at stake, and the art festival is a lesson is Econ 101.
Presentation must be considered.
How will the paintings be displayed? Are they flat on a table top or shown on walls? If there are walls, what are they made from? How do they stay up? Do the paintings need to be wired in the back? Are they hung on nails or art hooks? Are the paintings titled? Is there a card near the painting with the price. How is the price indicated?
If the artist is showing jewelry, how will it be shown? Can a demonstration of the process take place during the show? Often a demonstration builds interest which converts into buying.
Money handling at an art show is a lot more real than Monopoly. Collecting money, giving change, and for those so inclined using a mobile app like Square to collect credit cards is an education in itself for a child. Should there be a cash drawer to start? How much should be in the drawer to start? What post show accounting will be done? The terms gross and net are teachable concepts to even the youngest artist. Basic math skills of addition and subtraction in a real life setting will be used.
Pre-show Marketing via business cards, emails and social media can all occur. For most kids, this will be their first occasion to have a business card. Adults should monitor the info on the card to protect the privacy of the child. A first name, a web site (if there is one) which does not include a home address or last name are all good ideas. The development of a business web site is a project unto itself.
Interaction with the Public at the festival will occur during festival hours. Young artists have the opportunity to talk about their art work, how they make it and what makes it special. These public social skills are life skills and transferable to many other life situations.
Pride and Self Esteem are common results a young artist experiences when participating in an art festival. The process of going from an idea, to the implementation of the idea, to review of results are high self esteem builders.
Values are learned at an art festival. A young artist learns firsthand the family’s value of originality and creativity when they are supported in their endeavor. Parents who support the process of the young artists building their body of work, are showing their value of work. Parents who support the young artist being in a festival teach the value of respect and accomplishment.
So, when wondering if your child should be in an art festival, the answer should be simple, YES!
For information on the Youth Art Division at the Port Clinton Art Festival and the Art Center’s Festival of Fine Arts, click here.
For more on How to Raise Children who Love Art, click here.