Thursday, July 23, 2009

Artscape: Wrap Up

Artscape is the LARGEST outdoor arts & music festival in the nation... and it's held right here in Baltimore. Wow. The event spans a dozen blocks in every direction and takes over the MICA campus and much of the Station North Arts District with not only the event itself, but a number of off-shoot events. It takes a good week to set up and its amazing that something so massive can be put on and orchestrated with so few hitches. As a vendor, I love Artscape--- it's very well organized and of course, amazingly advertised. They get big musical acts and hundreds of thousands of people come out. Most amazing, perhaps, is that come Monday morning, you'd barely know it had happened at all. All of the trash is gone, the tents get broken down and all around the former festival grounds, things are back to normal.

Unfortunately, it seems to take ME a lot longer to get back to normal...
Artscape is a three day festival, but it takes me months to prepare for it (both mentally and getting enough product together to fill my booth) and days to put everything away once it's over. Every day we leave the house around 9:30 and don't get back home until after 10:30--- the eating schedule, cleaning schedule and exercise schedule are all completely chucked to the wind. So, it's Thursday, 4 days later, and I am just now managing to get by butt back in front of the computer and writing this wrap up.

So... the whole thing starts, i mean REALLY starts, on the Thursday before the show opens. A week ago today, I packed up all of my booth display and sale items into the back of our small, but remarkably cargo friendly little car-- tetris style--- and headed off to the site.

Setting up usually takes me the ENTIRE allotted time... that's 6 hours. It's usually boiling hot out (remember, there's no electricity until the show actually starts on Friday, so there's no fans to run and you're essentially setting up your display inside of a hot house, white plastic sealed tent). But this year I learned from past mistakes and decided rather than be upset by the heat and humidity and length of time, I would come prepared and have fun with it. I brought a few battery operated fans to create some breeze: a couple of towels, so i could sit on the asphalt and put my display together more comfortably; my ipod, so i'd have tunes to motivate me (and noise to drown out the complaining happening in booths all around me) and of course, a big cooler filled with ice cold beverages... including a little sangria I had just taught myself to make. So, set up this year, while still just as lengthy, was a LOT more enjoyable and I think it helped to coat the space with a little extra good karma, right off the bat.

I premiered a number of brand new items and introduced other newer items to a new audience. Artscape always adds a couple hundred new names to my mailing list--- but this year I also ran through a entire box of 1,000 business cards.

Almost all of the Knitimals, Recyclimals & OoAKies went home with new families; I sold out of postcards, note cards, soap, onesies, finger puppets and more.

I had the honor of meeting the top reader in the 2nd grade spelling class, the youngest and most vocal fan I have, and a good couple dozen of wonderful blog readers who have silently followed along but made it out this year to buy their first ACTUAL greenstargoodie.

i autographed my books, gave out lists of where my murals could be found, accepted sweater donations and took orders for holiday Knitimals. I was BUSY. Thank you all SO much for coming out. It was, as most of you know, an unprecedented Artscape--- i can't even remember an Artscape in my history that wasn't pushing 100 degrees or torrentially raining or worse. But this year we got lucky--- it was mild and breezy, temperatures in the mid to low 80's. Everyone seemed in such good spirits. People were buying ART. It was amazing. Its been a while since I've had such an overwhelming sense that things were "right" in the world, but I never once heard a complaint about cost or a parent say something like :you don't need that"--- instead, i saw parents actively steering their kids into the booth and encouraging them to pick something out. And i LOVED how many of you guys chose BOOKS! That's awesome. Thank you to all the young people who had such astute and beautiful reactions to my work. Here were some of my favorites:

* "Dad, it's Handmade, what do you expect?"
* " You MADE that? Wow... you're really good... do your hands hurt?"
* in response to an adult who said, looking at the Knitimals, "They're like the Ugly Dolls"--- "yeah, but these are SO much better; those don't have hearts".
* "If i were a baby still I'd want to have that. I'm a big girl, so I'd want to design my own... I'd want one with horns".
* "i'm an artist too, but you're a REAL artist"

Well, guess what? I think YOU are a real artist too.
Thanks again to all you amazing people who came out to support high quality, local, eco-responsible, handmade artists.
We literally couldn't do it without you. Hope you're all loving all your new things!


For those of you who COULDN'T make it, or who could, but decided to save your purchasing for later, I am working on the shop update now. It'll take me a while to get the work photographed and posted, so I'm doing it in small batches. You can look for new work each day, or wait for a big shop update announcement here in the next week or so. OR, in the meantime--- if there was anything you remember seeing and you're wondering if it is still available, or you would like to special order something or buy something you DON'T see in the shop yet, please feel free to email me and ask.


Did you go to Artscape? I'd love to hear about your favorite experiences, either in my booth or beyond. Comment away!
xoxo, danamarie


Valerie A. Heck said...

I'm glad Artscape went so well for you! I like your positive attitude, and that you listened to your ipod rather than neighbors complaining!

Kacia said...

Hello! I'm so excited that I ran into your booth after stopping by the Women's Industrial Exchange that very same day. I'm super please with my shrinkydink magnets (thank you for letting me mix and match), and have named them Trundle, Fosse, and Kookie. I'm so glad everything went off without a hitch for you! Take care.