Reflections on My First Art Festival

The most valuable aspect of spending 62 days as an exhibitor at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts was the direct contact with people. There are over 200,000 visitors every summer and I'm sure I spoke with at least several thousand. Finding out what they liked, why they liked it and how my art spoke to them, has reinvigorated my commitment and reshaped my future plans.

Knowing how to talk about myself and my work was of absolute importance. It's always a good idea to greet all the visitors while approaching only the ones lingering over the artwork. In place of putting them on the spot and asking if they had any questions, I would say something specific about the piece they were looking at, such as: "This was inspired by the Snake River in Wyoming," "This is my latest artwork" or "This poppy is floating below the surface in a bowl full of water." I would also talk about my inspiration, that nature is my muse and water my canvas, that I use water as a filter to study natural objects.

My technique really spiked the visitors' interest and curiosity. It's best to choose non-technical terms when explaining the art process. Using words that people can relate to makes for a comfortable conversation. For example, I would say something like this: "Do you remember melting crayons as a child? Well, in a nutshell, that is my process" and then I would fill in the gaps.

I've learned not to get too personal, not to talk about religion or politics, and to gently stir the conversation toward my work. Showing my best professional self in a positive and upbeat manner and expressing my enthusiasm have always led to productive interactions and sometimes to a sale.

Most people buy art because they feel an emotional connection to the artwork and the artist. My biggest discovery was finding out that my art, indeed, spoke to the viewers. Now I feel that I have a place within the art world and that my art speaks not only to me but to many others as well.

My Exhibition Space at the Festival