Art shows and festivals are a lot of work and they are not always as lucrative as you hope they will be. Picking the right shows can lead to earning money and gaining confidence in your work. However, one of the most valuable things you can get from an art show is not money- it is the connections with other artists. It can be beneficial to check out what other people are doing with their art. One aspect of the artist community that is very valuable, is the lack of competition. While sometimes you may initially be defensive of your work, it quickly fades when you realize your success and their success are not mutually exclusive.
Here are a few things you can do to support other artists (I have some of my own fellow art friends featured throughout this post, give them a look!):
Show genuine interest in their work
Shows are busy, but if you get the chance to walk around and talk to people, you totally should. Learning what other artists are doing and where they are doing it is valuable. It can help spark ideas within you and it can help you find a group of people who have similar interests. This could lead to future collaborations or just people to hang out with. If you show a genuine interest in what people are doing, it can help fuel your passion and gain you some friends along the way.
Social media is a powerful thing. If you have acquired something from another local artist, give them props. It is not difficult to post a picture of a new piece and tag their page. That will send some traffic their way and it will show other artists and followers that you support your community. Another way to give credit is by displaying their work. We have work all over our apartment and none of it comes from Golden Key Prints. Every piece that decorates are walls is from a friend or another local artist. When people come over, they get to see the work that we have collected from other people.
Go to their shows/ open houses
Sometimes it is hard to go out to an art festival or show when you are not participating. Summer shows are hot, have large, slow moving crowds and you don’t HAVE to be there. But you should go. Go with and smile and browse. Bring your friends a water or a beer. Shop their booth even if you know every item in there. Grab a bag and help a customer check out. Talk them up to anyone who comes through. Talking yourself up can be awkward, but bragging about your friends can come pretty easy. Be the helper you would want at your own show or festival. Additionally, you can see if the festival would be worth your time in the future. Open houses are also a great opportunity to check out where other people work and create. These can definitely inspire you to reinvent your space or aspire towards a different atmosphere in the future. Your friends will be proud to share their space with you, and happy that you showed interest in them.
Bonus Note: Purchasing
When you buy from your friends, do not expect a discount. Do not ask them to give you a lower price. Do not ask them to go above and beyond for you. Not because they can’t, but because by paying full price, you show them that you value their work. If they choose to give you the discount, make it clear that you are willing to pay the asking price. It is really hard to set prices and stick with them. Holding your ground with friends and family can be even more difficult. Paying them full price will reinforce their confidence in their work.