Friday, April 18, 2008

Tempe Festival of the Arts

As I mentioned before, one of my favorites shows is Tempe’s Festival of the Arts located on Mill Ave in downtown Tempe AZ. With few exceptions it has every amenity I look for when selecting festivals I want to support. If they would only bring the cold water and snacks for us artist directly to our booths and not make us leave our art unattended while we walks blocks away to the hospitality tents, the show would score a 10 in my book.

Although I heard rumors that volunteers were making the rounds delivering water, coffee and snacks, I never saw them. They very well might have come by but I was slammed constantly for the entire 3 days and just might have missed them.

Another big plus for this show is their use of booth sitters. This little offering allows us solo artists a few minutes away from the booth to grab a quick bite to eat of use the port-a-potty. It’s amazing what 10 minutes of down time can do for your well-being. Because of the volume of sales I normally do at this show, I always get antsy to return to my booth ASAP. Booth sitters are not allowed to take money on your behave. They can only hand out literature and make sure nothing leaves your booth without being paid for. Customers don’t wait. When they want it, they want it NOW. If I’m not there to handle their transaction, often times, they’re down the road. I’m fortunate though, that if they like my style of art they aren’t able to walk down the isle and find another fractal artist to purchase from. So they usually come back and talk with me once I return from my break.

This years set up went smoothly, as did break down. No artist rage incidents I’m aware of. Because my son and daughter-in-law live in the area, I can always rely on them giving me a hand to break down and pack out on Sundays, I enjoy their help and company more than I think I let on to them. Thanks Jed and Tara and you too Kaden (my 2 year old grand son)

I had the additional pleasure of having great booth neighbors. With in 5 booths of me were 2 other artists that I’m friends with. A wooden puzzle maker from Oregon and a sculptor from Washington state. Go figure, we all drove 1600 plus mile to get to this show and out of 400 or more other artists we got placed next to each other. That’s way cool.

My immediate booth neighbors were a couple from northern California who weaved their own cloth and then created lovely women jackets out of it. They were about my age and we hit it off the moment we introduced ourselves to each other. Another great connection in the cosmos we call art festivals. I may never see they folks again but they touched me in a way that I’ll never forget them. A major side benefit of being a traveling artist.

If I had any gripes at all about this show it might be that the proclaimed attendance figure were added to heavily by the people who were in town to attend the Tempe Music Festival that was held on the end of Mill Ave. at the same time our arts festival took place. It’s been my experience that even though these are extra bodies that potently walk by your booth they almost NEVER stop and buy. Who wants to carry a newly purchased piece of art into a concert? I wouldn’t. So a new artist to the show might be swayed into thinking that their customer base was 300,000 buyers instead of 225,000 but I’ll take even the lower attendance figures any day.

Another negative comment I heard about the show (I’m sure from artists having a bad show) was that there was a bunch of commercial buy/sell merchandise being sold as art. Although I never got a chance to walk the whole show when we were open those booths I did see contained very nice, artist produced artwork. So the buy/sell comments from others, at least of what I saw, didn’t hold up.

For those of you thinking about applying to this show I highly encourage you to do so. If you are proud of your work, are willing to work fairly long hours, can put up with a late night move-in on Thursday, don’t mind thousands of people perusing your art and making a bunch of money, this show is for you.

Here is a link to the festivals website.

Tempe Festival of the Arts.

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