Chicago September 6-7 the 4th Annual Arts Festival Conference presented by ZAPP and WESTAF was held in downtown Chicago. To correct some assumptions, the conference is not "about" ZAPP, its purpose is to bring artists, art fair organizers and other arts professionals together to share information about culture and arts festivals in the U.S. I've attended a bunch of arts conferences and there is always great energy around them as people in the business meet face to face those they've only known online or reconnect with old friends.
There was a solid agenda full of information that painted a bigger picture of the arts and broadens ways of thinking about the place of the arts in our society and presented fresh ideas on how arts professionals can expand their events, artists can find new markets and we all can work together.
Highlights for me:
- Presentations by artists Toby Fraley on his art career, Casey Sheppard's use of Kickstarter.com to find money to fund her business and Ali and Dolan Geiman's thorough use of social media to build an audience for Dolan's artwork.
- Learning about art initiatives beyond the art fair business from John Spokes, director of development for United States Artists that invests in artists in society; Sam Bowers' ArtHERE.org that places art in public places; Barbara Goldstein's use of public art in San Jose that benefits arts festivals and artists.
- Spending time with old friends and meeting show directors from Florida to California. Priceless.
Dolan & Ali speaking about marketing art
Keynote: Cole Nussbaumer from Google.com presenting Storytelling with Data
Art fairs do you want to wow your audience and sponsors with the data you've gathered for your event? Cole led us through an exercise that taught how to make the most of your data to influence your audience and get your most important information out. Learn more: StorytellingwithData.com.
Who? Who? You: Building Your Brand
This was a diverse panel discussion with branding/marketing expert (Mark Rowland), show director (Kelly Kindred of the Bayou City Arts Festival) and wrapped up by Ali and Dolan Geiman, artists who are the quintessential marketing specialists online for Dolan's art.
Mark Rowland of YourSimpleTruth.com was the lead as he spoke about branding on a universal level that is of use to everyone in the art business with the goal of getting their message across to the appropriate audience.
Kelly Kindred took the information a step further and spoke about how the Bayou City Art Festivals uses branding to increase the reach of her shows, from the website to their media outreach to the way they communicate with their audience, one voice speaks for the organization and the message is carried through in all their communications.
Dolan and Ali Geiman are a husband and wife team. Dolan is the artist and Ali is the media expert. Their presentation was about how an artist can brand him/herself using social media to amplify the message as a way to present dynamic content that is ever changing and relevant. Their marketing newsletters go way beyond their website DolanGeiman.com, as they use them to stay in touch with customers and expand their story beyond what is new. Dolan is an active birdwatcher and he blogs about that topic, using keywords and tags. His posts get picked up by Google and it brings him new customers. Tired of writing about yourself and your work? Another example they showed was that of a car salesman who uses his Facebook page to write about cars including photos of car shows he attends.
Lunch: Terry Adams, director of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival introduces Kathleen Eaton, new artist representative to the Zapplication board and Leah Charney presents ZAPP 2.0 with many upgrades to the system that will be helpful to both show directors and artists.
There were two presentations simultaneously:
Ingenious Innovation: What Shows do Right - a solid list of strategic information and insider tips on making your art fair "best in class", presented by Ann Ostermann from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County and photographer Michael Brown. I did not attend this one but later that day as I was speaking with Michell Middleton and Nancy Zinkofsky of the Mount Dora Center for the Arts I asked them what they had learned. They said there were many suggestions they could not implement such as nearby parking for artists and an ocean or lake view but definitely were interested in adding a wine bar to their event.
Art IS my Real Job: Art Business for Artists
I attended this one and the panel was dynamic. The first speaker was potter Neil Estrick who laid out what an artist does to make a living. Besides making pots and selling them at art fairs he has a gallery, teaches pottery classes, repairs kilns and I'm thinking there were other jobs too. No slacker here, Neil is hustling and loving all the disparate parts of his lifestyle.
Adrienne, Teresa and Daniel
Next came Adrienne Outlaw from Nashville, TN, where she is involved in the Nashville Cultural Arts Project, writes, curates, run programs for artists, a lab for artists, Seed Space and participates in high end gallery events such as Scope. In addition she runs Insight? Outta Site a participatory potluck forum whereby artists meet nationally known critic curators. She confessed to continually reinventing herself and looking everywhere to find the next exciting opportunity.
You may have met Teresa Merriman at an art fair as she is one of the long distance haulers, a road warrior and loving it. From her home in Colorado she travels to 30 shows a year selling her handcrafted leather journals, Using traditional methods, she binds handmade papers and leather together to create personal journals. The most impressive thing about Teresa was her open and friendly manner and her obvious love of meeting people at the shows and selling her work. She spoke about salesmanship and the use of social networking as her main tools for earning her living.
I was very impressed to meet Daniel Grant an arts writer for the Huffington Post and author of numerous books including The Business of Being an Artist and The Fine Artist's Career Guide. He lives in Massachusetts and leads career workshops at educational institutions. There wasn't enough time to even begin to assimilate all of his good information.
Time for a break with my head spinning. I need to interview each of these people for my podcasts. Neil is the classic guy who keeps his eyes open for opportunities around him, not traveling far. Adrienne is brave and does a lot of work connecting people and expanding her experiences. Teresa, great fun and the perfect personality for the art fair business. Daniel, full of helpful information from a lifetime of experience.
Extending the Exhibit: How Public Art Can Benefit Artists and the Arts Festival
Presenters Sam Bower of ArtHERE.org, a website for matching underutilized spaces with art; Barbara Goldstein, from the City of San Jose's Office of Cultural Affairs who has published with Americans for the Arts; Toby Fraley - artist
I loved Toby Fraley's presentation and his story. Short version: lost his job at a photo printing lab; decides to become a potter; is wildly successful creating and selling pots through the wholesale marketplace but he began to feel like a machine; started looking around and thinking, "is this all there is?" Then decided to go for being an installation artist. He was a great storyteller and had solid tips on how to move into the public arts space. See his installation in downtown Pittsburgh: http://pghrobotrepair.com/
Last session of the day:
Tech Trends and New Tools to Benefit You
Connie learns how to Instagram (yes, I took these photos with my iPhone and sent them through Instagram to my Facebook page. As you can see not recommended for great resolution, but a new trick).
Kasey Sheppard tells how she used Kickstarter.com to fund her art fair business
You've got to imagine that there was lots of information about social media and how shows and artists can take advantage of them. Loved this presentation that included Beth Hayden, an expert on Pinterest (think I'm a Luddite, can't figure this one out yet, or its purpose), Jennifer Rapp Peterson's solid interactive presentation on her site www.IndieMade.com. Jennifer is an artist and a technician so has really put together a site that will work for artists. Casey Sheppard's information on using Kickstarter.com to fund her art fair business was an eye opener for me. Check this out here. John Spokes most recent career move is development director with United States Artists, a nonprofit arts organization that works to invest in America's finest artists.
End of day
Reception at Jean Albano Gallery in the River North neighborhood, then dinner at a nearby restaurant with Sara Shambarger, Larry Oliverson, Kerry Murphy, Krista Renfrew, Jennifer Kobe, Connie Mettler, Elizabeth Regner, Karla Prickett and Dionne Wachowiak. Photographer Michael Brown took the photo.
ZAPP Symposium: Community, Collaboration and the Creative.
Stephen King (Des Moines Arts Festival) moderated a round table discussion around trends and industry changes and the larger arts and culture landscape. On the panel were Sam Bower, ArtHere.org; Amelia Northrop, TRG Arts; Adrienne Outlaw, Seed Space and John Spokes, United States Artists.
I had to leave early to drive to St. Louis to visit the St. Louis Art Fair but the last part of the day was a Public Portfolio Critique run by Terry Adams with jurors Jerry Gilmore, David Rench and Dionne Wachowiak. Artists brought their images to show the jurors and received direct feedback, plus could see their work in the mix of others work.
The best part of the conference was spending time with old friends and meeting new people. Thanks to Leah Charney, Christina and the Zapp staff for this varied look at the state of the arts from public arts to Pinterest experience.
To everyone who is interested in these conferences, they are always worth your time and money to learn more about the business that is our livelihood and to make connections with other artists and show directors, as well as to learn about new public initiatives in the arts and be inspired by others.
Who was there:
Terry Adams, Cherry Creek Arts Festival
Janet Anderson, Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce
Paul Anderson, Sausalito Art Festival
Deb Bailey, Marion Arts Festival
Bonnie Blandford, Garage Sale Art Fair
Sam Bower, ArtHERE
Susan Bowers, Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts
Michael Brown, artist
Cory Cope, Three Rivers Arts Festival
Angela Cozby, Arts Council of Oklahoma City
Dick Dahlstrom, artist
Perry Douglass, artist
Kathleen Eaton, artist
Shoshana England-Falconer, artist
Neil Estrick, artist
Patrick Flaherty, Broad Ripple Art Fair
Iris Fragoso, artist
Toby Fraley, artist
Katrina Gallegos, Coconut Grove Arts Festival
Stephen King moderates the Symposium
Anne Gary, artist
Ali & Dolan Geiman, artist
Jerry Gillmore, juror
Barbara Goldstein, City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs
Daniel Grant, author
Beth Hayden, Social Media & Pinterest Consultant
Jean Keiffer, artist
Michael Kifer, Garage Sale Art Fair
Stephen King, Des Moines Arts Festival
Jennifer Kobe, Milwaukee Art Festival
Linnea Lahlum, artist
Susan Lukas, artist
Ellen McConnell, artist
Ashley McNabney, Omaha Summer Arts Festival
Teresa Merriman, artist
Terri Messing, Art in the Square
Michell Middleton, Mount Dora Center for the Arts
Kerry Murphy, Artisphere
Jeff Nadler, artist
Amelia Northrup, TRG Arts
Cole Nussbaumer, Google
Larry Oliverson, artist
Ann Ostermann, Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County
Adrienne Outlaw, artist
Jennifer Owen, Three Rivers Arts Festival
Joseph Persfull, Special Events Management
Jennifer Peterson, IndieMade.com
Karla Prickett, Smoky Hill River Arts Festival
Jerry Placek, artist
Elizabeth Regner, Lubbock Arts Alliance
David Rench, artist
Krista Renfrew, Milwaukee Art Museum
Heather Ricketts, Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts
Maureen Riley, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
Georgia Ross, artist
Here you can see the screens set up for the jury critique, all images projected and lots of new things learned by everyone attending on what to look for in jury images and what the jurors are looking for
Mark Rowland, Simple Truth
Teresa Saborsky, NAIA
Derek Scalzott, Three Rivers Arts Festival
Sara Shambarger, Krasl Art Fair
Casey Sheppard, artist
Robin Snyder, Art in the Square
John Spokes, United States Artists
Jennifer Steele, Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County
Linda Strickland, artist
Jeffrey Van der Koon, artist
Dionne Wachowiak, Milwaukee Art Museum
Nancy Zinkofsky, Mount Dora Center for the Arts
Munks won the pass to attend the Zapp Conference and he was unable to attend. Sue Lukas from Wisconsin attended in his place. Great to meet you, Sue, and spend some time together.