I participated in my first Art Festival in September of this year, and what a journey it was! Where to start? I suppose I should start with failure.
I’ve been doing art shows for a few years now, showcasing the upcycled fashion accessories and home decor items that I make. Painting is my newest art form, and I LOVE IT. I’ve also found it to be the most personal form of creative expression for me. I applied to be in this same art festival last year with my mixed media paintings, as a way to push myself into uncomfortable territory, but I wasn’t accepted. I was denied, and I was heartbroken.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried. Rejection is hard, especially when I felt so vulnerable simply applying in the first place. After a good 24 hours of sadness, I felt better… crying has its way of aiding the healing process. I moved on, ended up opening Lulu Bea’s – a store and studio- and put my focus elsewhere.
Now, the crazy thing. Almost exactly 1 year after my art festival rejection, the woman who ran the show walked into my store to buy a gift. Through our conversation. I learned that she was in charge of the Lakeville Art Festival, and I told her how I had applied last year but did not get in. She looked at my paintings in person, and invited me to apply again, this time as an invited artist in the “emerging artist” category. This category enables artists, who have never shown their art at a show before, the opportunity to do so free of charge. It really is an amazing opportunity that helps new artists start on their way.
I was shocked. What are the chances?? I absolutely had to follow through with the art festival now. How could I not? I was still just as terrified as ever though, but when opportunity knocks, open the freaking door, take opportunity’s hand and skip around the room in glee!!
Enter the day of the art festival. I was sleep deprived, running late and wholly disorganized. I happened to run into the owner of Perfectly Random, my store neighbor (and friend), as I left Lulu Bea’s on my way to the show, and she offered to help me set-up. Praise the heavens!! I don’t know how I would have done it without Terri. She is such an amazing stager. I would never have thought to stagger the paintings, and even hang some of them from the tent itself.
I am really happy with the way that it turned out. Terri even lent me a number of the furniture pieces that I used. I tell ya… she has such a big heart. Of course, my booth set-up did not compare to the quality of the more seasoned artists in attendance, but I was okay with that. Even within my artwork, I try to incorporate recycled elements, so having a hodge podge booth display felt right.
I loved having the table space, even though most artists sit outside of their booths. I decided to bring art supplies with me to work on pieces while I sat. Check out this jazzed up clipboard that I did!
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Over all, I am very happy with how my first art show went. I always thought that artwork was a difficult product to sell, but I didn’t find that to be completely true. Certainly, the bigger priced point items didn’t sell, but having a number of options at lower prices was the key. I know from experience, I’ve often wanted to support an artist at a show, but couldn’t afford their pieces. I knew that I wanted more accessible pieces of art to offer, and it paid off.
Now I look back on the initial art festival rejection as a blessing. I know now that I wasn’t quite ready to showcase my paintings. I still had growth to do as a painter, and I plan to always continue to grow as an artist. I firmly believe that everything occurs at the exact right time. In this instance, the right time happened to walk through my store door and hand me a gift.
I feel so, so lucky.
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