People often ask us, “How do you come up with your design ideas, and how do you make them so appealing to everyone?” To answer this, we have to dive into the history of 7055, Inc. We look back to our origins in 1995 – when we were still called “The Test of Time” and had just started pounding the pavement to make some sales. Very early on in our adventures, we were introduced to the world of Art Festivals. We’ve been doing art festivals for over 20 years because we love meeting our customers, getting feedback on new products, and making friends along the way. This is an exciting side of our business that not a lot of people know about, and we want to invite everyone to come visit us at an art festival – especially if it’s your first time experiencing one of these fun events.
If you’ve never been to an art festival, I hope you’ll consider seeking one out and giving it a try. These events, usually held on weekends, are an opportunity for everyone to get out and enjoy all types of arts that have been produced in, or inspired by, your local region. These festivals often draw artists from several surrounding states and a few from around the country. Not only do they include the wonderful visual arts, but often performing arts, amazing culinary samplings and carnival-style foods, and local small businesses trying to get their name out in the art community. These events give people from all walks of life an opportunity to enjoy their local art culture in an exciting (and usually no-cost!) environment.
If you’re ready to take off and explore your local art festival, there are a few things you’ll want to remember when preparing for the experience:
Plan for the weather!
Most art festivals are held outdoors. Depending on your location and the seasonal weather in your area, you may need to adjust this advice to fit your situation. We always recommend dressing in layers so you don’t have to go all the way back to your car as the day warms up, cools off, turns to drizzle, or changes seasonally in your area. If applicable, bring along sunscreen. It’s easy to skip this when you think you’ll be in a shaded park area, going in and out of tents all day, but even in these conditions, the sun will likely sneak up on you a little more than you were expecting. We all know the risks of sunburn, so having along that sunscreen is essential whether you end up using it or not.
Always bring water!
If it’s a warm day in your area, you’ll likely grab a bottle of water out of habit, but even on a cooler day it’s important to stay well hydrated. You’ll be doing a lot of walking at most art festivals, so water is key. Nobody wants to get dehydrated and end up collapsing in the middle of festival grounds, but just as important, after a day of walking and looking at all the fantastic art, nobody wants to go home and cramp up from all the walking.
Plan your day in advance!
Most art festivals release some kind of program ahead of time to let people know what will be featured. Some do this through paper hand-outs at the information booth; others publish it in the local newspaper or on their website or social media pages. It’s always a good idea to take a look at this ahead of time if possible. Make notes on what you absolutely want to make time to see. You might also make notes if you know something is of absolutely no interest to you. Some festivals are small enough to experience everything, but others take days and days to see and experience everything. Keep an eye out for a map of the festival grounds. This will help you plan for parking, plan a route through the art booths, know the location of emergency services and the information booth. It’s especially important at the largest festivals to make this plan ahead of time. Many people also like to mark their favorite artists while at the festival. This provides a reference for the following year to help plan better. Well established artists and entertainers are usually in the same places or performing at the same times year after year, so marking your favorites this year will help plan for next year.
Wear comfortable shoes!
You WILL be spending a lot of time on your feet, so comfortable shoes are essential. Whether you are visiting a small art festival where you’ll only walk around a couple hours, or a large festival, where you spend all day and evening on your feet, shoes might be the single most important factor to make your day enjoyable. Yes, we all like to have a little style when we are at this kind of event, but comfort should absolutely be the standard here. Consider bringing an extra set of shoes/flip-flops/etc in your car for later if you’re planning to do more than just the art festival on your day out.
Even if you’ve got your credit or debit card, you might run into situations where vendors don’t accept cards – and often situations where poor cellphone signals render their card swipers useless. Remember, you’ll probably need cash for any food and drinks and memorabilia you purchase regardless of whether or not the artists accept credit cards. (Secret Tip: If you have cash for large purchases, a lot of artists will give you a little better deal or cover the sales tax – this does not apply to everyone, but feel free to ask respectfully if cash will get you a little better deal)
Bring your ID!
There’s really two very important reasons for bringing your ID with you to an art festival (beyond the legal requirements if you are driving to get there). Please, please, please, PLEASE! DO NOT try to use your debit or credit card if you don’t have your ID along. You’re going to be dealing with small business owners who cannot afford the risk of a charge-back when they let you use your credit card. Most of them will want to know for sure that you are the person whose name appears on the debit/credit card. This is not a transaction at Wal-Mart where the business can afford extra risk to move people through a line faster. You are dealing with artists who pour their heart and soul into every piece they create. Most of them have had bad experiences with someone purchasing their art, then disputing the credit card charge and leaving them with no art and no money.
The second important reason to bring along your ID is just in case you’re at an event that includes tastings from local wineries and breweries. It can be a lot of fun to sample some local favorites if this is an area of interest for you. Many art festivals also have a beer-tent or other “adults-only” area for relaxing with friends and enjoying a few refreshing beverages. Anything alcohol-related at these events is still governed by state laws, so plan accordingly and always act responsibly.
Bring references for that decorating project you haven’t finished!
We all have that wall we’d love to decorate, but haven’t found just the right piece yet. Art festivals are a great opportunity to get the perfect piece of art! Don’t be shy in your
preparations for making a large art purchase. We always recommend that our customers bring along color swatches, measurements, photos of the blank space in their room, and any other information that might help them envision a piece of art in the location they hope to fill. At nearly every art festival we attend, we have customers laying our art on the ground to envision how it would look in a grouping in the space they want to fill. We help them coordinate colors, find a piece or multiple pieces to fit within the measurement requirements, and arrange in a way that the customer loves. Most artists really enjoy helping their customers and clients with this process. It’s a great time to interact with the artist and really understand their vision when creating various pieces. The artist will often have recommendations you may not have thought about, just because they have poured their soul into this art, and they want to see it evolve from their creation to an inspired story in your space.
Bring your camera, but ask before taking a photo!
Artists love to show off their art, and when you’re walking around an art festival, you’re likely to notice many artists beaming with pride as they discuss their methods and artistic vision with customers, clients and interested browsers. There’s one sure-fire way to enrage almost any artist: take photos of their work without asking permission. This is no less offensive than taking random photos of someone’s children without asking. The artist has poured everything into their work. They have exposed their soul to the public in hopes of being appreciated and loved enough to make a sale. When someone walks up and starts snapping photos, it usually means one of very few things. First, as artists, we don’t want people ripping off our designs. Unfortunately, this is common among those who cannot create designs of their own, and are unable to appreciate the effort put forth by those who do create original designs. The easiest way to steal a design is by sneaking photos of a finished piece of work to study that piece later and find a way to duplicate it or give it to a “friend” to duplicate it at a lower price. While we know most people don’t have this intention, the few sleazy individuals who engage in this practice have ruined it for everyone and left all artists a little uneasy with photography in our booth areas. Secondly, photographing work at an art festival without permission is, in many cases, a theft of the artist’s work. If you intend to use the photos you snapped of an artists original paintings, photography or sculpture for something personal such as changing the desktop image on your phone or computer, this is theft of intellectual property. If you really love an artist’s work, but cannot afford an original, many artists offer post-card sized images that you may purchase and use freely for personal use. If you need to take a photo – maybe you need to see if your significant other is okay with you making a purchase, or maybe the artist doesn’t have small versions available – PLEASE always ask first! The mere act of asking will set most artists’ minds at ease. You’ve given them the opportunity explain any restrictions on the images you take, offered your genuine intent so they don’t feel ripped off, and opened up a conversation with someone who would probably enjoy telling you more about the art piece you’ve already fallen in love with. This is a win-win for everyone involved.
As you get out and experience a few art festivals, you’ll quickly get in a groove of what you need to do to plan for a great day of art-venture. We’ve compiled a handy, downloadable guide for you to download and print to help you get ready.
Check us out at our upcoming festivals here. We can’t wait to see you!