Let's Be Honest
Last night was St. Albert Art Walk. It was windy and got pretty darn cold around 7:30 pm. High five to the artists who persevered through the evening, myself being one of them.
Where are the artists?
I think there were supposed to be quite a few more artists on site last night. I heard someone say that there were 19 booths when there should have been closer to 30. I could be wrong, but something like that anyways.
So why didn't those artists show up? Granted, it was lousy weather. It could have been worse. It could have been raining, or snowing, or hailing. So, weather was a factor, for sure. A few artists may have had some emergency or some big issue that kept them away. Maybe all their paintings or prints were lost at sea. It happens (I'm being sarcastic, here). Without a really good excuse, it comes down to dedication and willingness to support an event and other artists even when it is inconvenient or you just don't feel like it.
I sure didn't feel like sitting there in front of St. Albert Place, cold, and lonely because, hey, it was cold and there were next to no patrons. A few people came through but there were no lengthy conversations because they just wanted to get home, out of the wind. At least they SHOWED UP!
Artists, learn from your mistakes
I was prepared for last night. Aside from being a bit cold, I felt confident that my tent was not going to go flying away in the wind.
I felt horrified when a large gust of wind came up (more than once) and the sound of crashing grid wall and art work permeated the air. Gasps and cries went up as artists watched their prints and cards and paintings fly away in the wind. Artists helped other artists pick up the pieces (since there were no customers to help).
I sat there under my tent and heard people say that the same thing happened to them at another art walk. A few people literally stood the entire time and held onto their tent. Some laid their paintings on the ground. There were a few more crashes as the evening went on.
Why would you go to an outdoor event unprepared? Tents are supposed to have weights, and your weight does not qualify. Paintings are natural wind catchers. Your grid wall may be heavy but when the wind catches hold of the paintings on it, say goodbye! Strap your grid wall to the tent and fasten the artwork well. Art with banged up corners and skid marks does not sell very well. Maybe to a biker gang, but not to your average joe.
Get some good weights for your tent. Sure, you can use your plates from the gym equipment you don't use. You can fill milk jugs with sand or a pail with concrete. Then, ask yourself, how does this look to your customers? It looks pretty unprofessional, if you ask me. And maybe you didn't ask me, but this is my blog and it's my opinion that counts!
You can order some empty sand bags that are meant for weighing down your tent. They strap onto the legs of the tent and don't look half bad. Fill them with sand and gravel. Don't get small ones. Get something that will ultimately weigh at least 35-45 pounds (each). You may have trouble carrying them around, but you can use them to bulk up your muscles when you aren't painting, or chasing your tent down the street, for that matter. I use a bungy cord on each corner to attach the roof to the weight. I figure that is what those loops on the roof are for...
Plan for the weather. If all you sell are lightweight items like cards and prints, make sure you have a secure display. Weigh them down with some pretty art thing you made. If the art is in bags with a hole and you hang them on a post or rack, put little clips on the ends of the posts. Then when the wind comes your art will be secure.
Have sides for your tent. If you can, put them on and roll them up to the roof so you can easily drop them down if it starts to rain. Or just leave them down. Prevent billowing by using some large rubberized clamps to tighten and secure the side of the tent to the legs of the tent. Hint: billowing sides can also knock your art around, not to mention the art of the person in the next tent (if you are side by side).
If you don't like to deal with weather issues, then don't! Don't sign up for outdoor events. Don't let the organizers, patrons, and other artists down by not showing up because of the weather. Outdoor Art Walks are a great thing but there are plenty of indoor events. Stick to those. Otherwise, get it together and come prepared!