Festival In the Park
This weekend’s show in Charlotte was challenging but promising. There were some protests in the city last week that may have had an effect on attendance, but with this being my first time here; it is hard to say for certain.
The people that did attend were an art-appreciative crowd. They were super-friendly and genuinely inquisitive about my style of photography. I also had one of the BEST experiences ever this weekend:
A young couple came to my booth looking at my photos and were drawn to a couple of my Premium Framed photos. They left for a while to think about it.
When they came back the young lady, Amy, was drawn once more to my 'Maple Barn' photo. After about 10 seconds she was crying, and through the tears she said
"It is just so beautiful"!
"You HAVE to have this if it makes you cry like this", I said.
I will always remember this encounter.
THIS is why I do what I do.
The sales were good, not great. I did well with my traditional framed pieces in medium and premium categories. That was different from the last few shows when my metal prints did well. I am glad I carry both types of art instead of 100% of any one.
There are a few things that need vast improvement at Festival In The Park. First is the booth layout and placement. I was 80% done setting up my booth yesterday when another vendor’s van/trailer pulls up next to me and starts unloading just 2 booths down. It takes me a few minutes but then it hits me…..
It is another photographer. Not only that BUT HE IS MY BIGGEST COMPETITION! Not only that BUT HE SHOOTS SIMILAR LOCATIONS AND USES HDR AS WELL! It know it will be extremely confusing for festival-goers and it could hurt both of our sales. This is unacceptable I decide and call Vendor Relations.
I explain my situation to them and after a while they call back and say they can move me to 86A. I tell them I will get back to them after I check out this new space. It looks like a fine space at first; however space 84 is ANOTHER PHOTOGRAHER! Are you kidding me? This one is a wildlife photographer so no conflict there, but still not a great idea to put two photographers that close.
Do the vendors themselves need to do the booth placement? I am so angry that I go to the office. I calmly explain that this could have been avoided IF VENDORS GOT THE BOOTH NUMBER LIST AHEAD OF TIME! I do get these for most shows so that this problem could be prevented. I check to make sure another photographer is that that close to me. I get an apology from the Show Director. So I decide to stay where I am. I don’t want to spend another 4 hours tearing down and setting up. So I stay put. I see this reoccur throughout the festival: 2 similar artists side-by-side.
Second issue is the variety of artists lean heavily towards the 2-D artists. It is mostly painters and photographers. I fit into this category and I think we are over-represented. There should be more 3-D artists in here, more jewelers, sculptors, potters, ect… This could bring in more people which benefit us all.
Third issue was the enforcement of the rules, or lack thereof. The rules clearly state that artists will NOT be allowed to drive or park on the grass. In addition we are instructed to drive to our booth, unload our gear, park our vehicle and THEN setup our display. I felt like a schmuck for following the rules because everyone who had done this show before did not. Most were waiting until there booth was 100% set up before moving their vehicles. And some ever left their van and trailers PARKED on the grass behind their booth all weekend. I guess the rules were meant for FIRST-TIMERS ONLY? What use is a rule if it is not enforced?
It does seem like more of a gripe list I know. I need to write this out even if nobody reads it. Maybe someone will who has control over such decisions at these shows and will make a note in their book?
Bottom line: I WOULD, most likely, do this show again. It had a fantastic setting and great potential.