Doing the writing thing, you have to always been looking for ways to get your work out there and as an artist, you have the same challenge – how on earth do I get my work out there? Now, for years now I have been trying to bring my art with me to shows I am doing because it’s all part of the same thing, it comes from the same place, so it just makes sense to bring them along to shows. For a show like the People’s Arts Festival though it feels natural to have my art AND books on display and to share in the wonder of this two day festival.
This was my second year doing the PAF and it was definitely the show I was looking forward to all year. The conventions are fun and all but this is just a world all its’ own. I am going to post pics of this year’s show but it’s hard to really appreciate the feel of the thing unless you see it. The festival takes place on the grounds of the Russell Industrial Center which is this immense old factory complex with a beautiful water tower and what makes it all so special is that doing the show there is so wonderfully symbolic – amidst what looks like worn and ruined buildings there is such beautiful work being created and shown but it’s not always in the open, and sometimes you have to poke around a little to find it, but it’s there, and as vibrant as ever. The PAF is a mix of a music and arts festival so that you get painters, photographers, crafters, jewelry makers, music, DJs, and a dozen other things and all of it fills this space and creates what can only be called a bit of magic. In Flint we tried to capture the same sort of vibe with our Guerilla shows but what you can do in a small building and on the grounds of a huge industrial complex are a world apart.
Set up was a bear, as, having borrowed a canopy we didn’t really know how to get it put together, we struggled with getting the beast up but once Mandie figured out how to do it, we easily slayed the beast and got things set up. I did the same set up that I did last year, which is to have a small table with my books (and this time some photography), and another table with my paintings and some Meep Sheep shirts I had left over from a run they did for me at work. Amanda was set up to do tarot readings. I always go into shows like this with as much nervousness as excitement. I hate that to a degree I have to try to make money because I am still this struggling artist, so it’s hard to completely relax during the festival and just let it happen. Ah, but, it’s hard not to marvel at the sights, sounds, and vibe of the thing. It’s a living animal that seems always to be evolving into something different and more wonderful. At one point I took a walk around and heard one band on the main stage, near where we were, heard some guys in a tent making some impromptu music, heard some DJ working, then caught another band on the loading dock stage. How so much chaos happens so smoothly I can never say, but darn it’s impressive.
Day one was long. Man was it long. I think it was thirteen hours and that is a long time to stay ‘up’ and ready to interact. The heck of Saturday was that as great as the artists we met were, as great as some of the people we met were, man, there were some real jerks there. I got the fun of dealing with some of the dunderheads – “Are these children’s books?” ME – “No, the one is a fairy tale that’s good for all ages but the others are not at all.” HER – “They LOOK like children’s books.” People. Mandie got the worst of it though. Since she does her tarot card reading for free with the hope of tips people get it in their head that they’re entitled to a reading and that they have it coming. I know for one instance these old women were furious that she was taking a break and made sure she knew it. Another group were drunk as can be and one dropped her beer all over the ground of where we were set up. Awesome. The day had its little miracles though, and for me, it came in the form of a boy that came to see me. He was out last year and bought This Beautiful Darkness from me. I hadn’t wanted to sell it as he was ten and the book gets pretty rough but his family chipped in together to get it and, you know, it sorta says what it is on the book. Well, he came back this year, having read TBD twice already, and wanted another book. It was pretty amazing. He ended up buying Back From Nothing and was stoked to get an autograph. In all honesty, that kid made the festival for me. I heard from another friend there (Shout out to Jerry Shirts) that the kid was super stoked about the book and autograph. How can I not love that?
Like I said though, day one was long, and windy, and exhausting, and ugh. I didn’t really make anything so that weighed on me heavily all night and through the long drive home. And again, it sucks to have to be down about that but that is the economics of the ‘starving’ whatever you are. Ah, but as mediocre as the first day was, the second day was that much better and then some.
Sunday began with a pep talk from my favorite werewolf Mac, who was stopping by the PAF to introduce a couple of the bands. He stopped by to see how Mandie and I were and gave me a verbal shaking and told me I needed to stop looking on the dark side or it’ll effect how I do with these events. Something Mandie seconded completely. So, after that I started shakin’ my butt around to amuse Amanda and turned my frown upside down and started to really enjoy the event. The great fun of Sunday was hmm – talking to other artists, posing for ridiculous pics with a duckie (mine) for a pin up one of the artists wants to do of me, and just a more positive vibe than I had on Saturday. It was super fun because I sold some art, which was boss. Now, I will never go rich selling art like this, but it’s good to have the interest and good to find people who want the stuff. That I sold to artists is actually a little cooler. I didn’t really move but a couple books but sold enough random stuff to have a much better day on that end than Saturday, but, honest, Sunday was just about enjoying the place.
If I have one regret it’s that I have a terrible shyness that comes over me at every darn event I do so that I don’t go around and meet people and check their stuff. It’s horrible and I need to get past it, for realsies.
So, overall, a super fun weekend. I have ideas about the future, sort of What Ifs on what I may do or not do in the future. I want a canopy of my own but that’s an expense I cannot afford right now but perhaps some time. I need to get my art hanging so people can see it. People seem to dig on the stuff, or some do, and I need to display it better. I want to make the ‘tent’ something neat to enter. Give it personality. Ah, but that’s for ‘next time’. I need personality for my displays, and that is the next challenge. This year’s PAF was a wonderful event and the only thing I could criticize was the notion of shot girls at an art fest. Weird. Met some amazing people, saw some folks from last year’s Leon & Lulu book show, and just had a good time. I wish I could say I sold a ton of books but, alas didn’t. The frustrating part of that was that I got a lot of ‘nibbles’ but no real interest. So, I need to think about what to do to get that to change but for an end to the Summer season of shows, it was a great way to close it out for me.
Now it’s back to writing, promoting, and figuring out how to get my Kreepies, er, Meepies to invade the world. Mwahahaha.