In the past, I've been hesitant to do any kind of art or craft festivals for a lot of reasons... the high cost and effort of setting up a booth, finding the "right" environment for my art, a weird shyness about talking up my art to strangers, other things. But when I got invited to sell art at the BSF (which was created to educate about sustainable local seafood and supporting Boston's fishing fleet, both issues I feel strongly about... and conveniently right down the street from me on Boston Harbor) it seemed "right" and I took the chance.
I'm so glad I did! The weather was perfect, the day flew by, and a lot of art found new homes, and I totally enjoyed chatting with people all day. I felt much less shy about explaining my process and inspiration, answering questions and making connections because I could tell people were genuinely intrigued by my work, despite this being a seafood festival rather than an art fair. A lot of people were surprised that it was all my art, and more than one person asked if I was the assistant of a gallery or an older professional artist too busy to attend. (That's a compliment, right?) I have to say it felt really, really good.
This is one of the only shots I got of my booth.. the festival was packed! Aside from a big lobster trap substituting as a table, I kept it very clean and let my art be the focal point.
One thing I can say about having a booth is that it wasn't easy. I have a whole new respect for artists who do this regularly. After committing to the festival, I had to spring for a commercial tent and weights, bought mesh walls from a local artist, ordered hanging equipment, found vintage metal bins for small prints and a wood rack for large prints, borrowed an old lobster trap from Mike's parents' house, and brought a small fortune of original art and prints to my print shop to be framed. I signed up for Square to process credit cards. I may have forgotten to go to the bank before it closed and had to buy gum from five different convenience stores to get enough small bills for change. I didn't know what to expect so I packed 3-5 in each size of my most popular prints. And then I had to fit all of that in my car!
Lastly, I created a huge 24"x48" lighthouse painting to put on an easel in front of my booth and hopefully draw people in. Here's the painting about halfway done in my studio on Friday morning:
It was 3am the day of the festival when I finished it, but it was worth it; it was a treat to overhear people pointing out different things they saw under the layers of paint and imagery. Luckily Mike woke up at the crack of dawn with me and helped all day, loading, unloading, restocking prints while I made sales, and grabbing seafood treats throughout the day. (I suspect I will not get stuffed clams and lobster rolls at most future art fairs. Bummer.)
At sunset we broke down my booth, packed up and went to grab a drink with some friends. I was exhausted, but so happy. I'm a little too late to apply for holiday festivals in Boston but hopefully I'll be doing a few in the spring, and definitely Boston Seafood Festival next year.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and said hi! And if you're reading this after seeing my booth at the festival, hello! I'm so happy you're here :)