I live in a small town called Fernandina Beach, Florida. It was the birth place to the modern shrimping industry. Woo woo!
We are currently having a huge community festival called the “Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival.” They have art, crafts, pirates, children’s activities, music – and you guessed it – Shrimp!
With much hesitation and urging by my ex-husband I use to show my art at the Shrimp Festival – only to learn that an original abstract artist who has nothing for sale under $100 has very little business being involved in the whole thing. It is just way too hot to have a show in Florida then, and the rewards are, well, non-existent – to say the least. I gave it the old college try (three hot years) only to realize own community as a whole (and surrounding areas) will never really appreciate, support, or even like me as an artist unless I painted palm trees, went mainstream, or dumbed down my work. That was a quite depressing reality.
All that being said – Shrimp Fest is going on right now and I can not tell you how much I love being able to actually enjoy it! My boyfriend’s band played yesterday and I got to hear them play for a few hours. I took lots of photos to be used for publicity, website, and on their new CD. I was also able to look around at all the art today. It was so nice to be a patron and a spectator instead. I purchased a beautiful blown glass/Pyrex bracelet and a Mother’s Day gift for my mother. I was able to enjoy a Sunday Brunch at a local restaurant and finish looking at art. Wonderful.
People don’t really realize how much work it is to do these shows – physical and mental labor and exhaustion. Actually people don’t really realize how hard it is to be an artist in general. Your job is never done. It is not 9-5. Do you ever really retire? Most don’t have health insurance (I do thankfully) …. the list of (complaints) can go on and on.
I live in a wonderful art community for such a small town. I think there are over 300+ artists or people that call themselves artists. Unfortunately that number comprised of about 90% of leisurely weekend painters and retirees. There are very few real working artists. Not that there is anything wrong with that – but I live in a community that glorifies the art “career” when it really is SUPER hard work that doesn’t really reward right off the bat (money, reputation, recognition) – if at all. People never see the blood, sweat and tears behind the real product.
Anyway, folks – next time you see an artist you like, especially at a street fair – tell them so! And if you do feel like purchasing something – before you ask for “a deal”, “a better price” or “discount,” think about the thousands of hours they put into making their art, the hundreds of miles they traveled to get there, their broken down van, flat tire, sleep deprivation, damaged work, horrible rainy or cold weather, the cost of a hotel (if they could even afford to sleep in a hotel – some sleep in their van!), the grueling heat – and take that piece of art home and love it!
Buy from living artists. Buy original art. 100% handmade. Made in the USA……Organic….Green….Original Art!