Savannah Pagan Pride was this past weekend, and it was awesome. Last year we had to set up in sheets of rain, nearly ankle deep in mud, so just having a sunny day was a huge improvement in the experience. The festival itself was lively and full of friendly faces. It’s one of those where everyone is kind and open, and you have no end to interesting conversations. Sales weren’t bad either, which was also nice, but even if they had been abysmal it would have still been a good festival. I also got to reconnect with an old college friend (and am now regretting not spending more time hanging out when we did live closer than four hours away).
Savannah was also significant in that it marks a year since the fates forcibly ejected me from my toxic day job and set me afloat on the turbulent seas of a full time art career. It’s not been an easy ride, but it has been both educational and rewarding. In the space of this past year, I’ve done more festivals than I used to do in three years, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from the experience.
First, know thine audience. When I found a repeating festival in Marietta that only cost $40 a week to vend, I was very excited (most start at $100). I signed up for it, got accepted, aaaaand learned that Marietta has a very small population who is interested in monsters and foxes eating people-food. One telling moment came when a woman bustled into my tent, demanded to know if I had any landscapes (I didn’t). She then slammed through my prints before disdainfully asking “Is this ALL animals?” and leaving without another word. I think I only made $17 that day.
I was on the point of despairing that I was just a crap, hack artist who makes stuff no one likes when I decided to pull out of one of the Marietta weekends to do the smaller Atlanta Pagan Pride. There, in addition to meeting many delightful people, I also made about as much in a day as I used to make with four days of full-time office work. I might be a crap hack artist in at least some opinions, but I’m one who’s learning which people don’t think so.
Also, summer festivals in hot climates aren’t worth it. Not even when they’re free to vend. Everyone is hot and angry and just wants air conditioning and won’t take much time to browse. If you have anything metal or glass on your table, you risk burning people. And, come tear-down, you risk some serious heat-related medical problems.
Luckily, summer is my busy season as an instructor at Johns Creek Arts Center. I’m approaching my first full year as an art teacher, and it feels like I’ve found a second calling. The first year was hectic; as a new teacher I had plenty to learn about the kinds of projects that work for a classroom of kids aged 7-10. I used to be terrified before each class, but after keeping a room of 26 students reasonably behaved while teaching them to draw a face in profile, I feel much more confident going into year two. Now that I don’t have to make every lesson plan from scratch, I should also have plenty of time to work on my own portfolio. This year my goal is to find a more cohesive look for my work, following the advice of the Dragon*Con jurors (I passed jury, but was waitlisted for actual floor space. One step closer!).
All in all, I’m very optimistic about year two of no corporate shackles. Now to knuckle down and get drawing!