Art Fairs 2.0

As a fervent lover, participant, and supporter of art, I am the first to admit that I have the HARDEST time supporting other artists in public.

Well, at least in the realm or art fairs or events, and with currency. I love supporting my “peers” on a one on one basis, or in general attending shows and events. I’m talking about art and money matters.

And I don’t know about you all, it’s hard to me.

Before, I didn’t know why that was the case. I learned a few years ago about my stance on purchasing art and the like. The general rule is if I can’t make it or if the proceeds go towards a specific cause, I’ll probably make a purchase.

This tidbit was confirmed during the summer. Early summer, I attended UNIQUE LA, an indoor art event/ swap meet. The space occupied the penthouse of the building and had food vendors, clothing designers, and various art makers (and some free stuff!) On the other side, there was an area for creative activities and photos. It was a good feeling being there, seeing other people also enjoying art and passing by the clothing booths were people were trying on garments to buy. I ended up purchasing a shirt that was created by a foundation working with stray animals and a drawing for water for a reserve.

I later attended the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach in mid August with my parents and it was quite the experience. The Sawdust summer festival is exclusive for local artists of all walks of disciplines from soap making, painting, illustrations, and glasswork. The art center is right across from the beach, boasting blue skies and the sound of waves crashing in the distance. There were masses of people, some checking out the other art events across the street – those specifically for the more classical selections which I think were apart of the museum there – some taking a stroll down to the beach.

Sherbet and pastel cottages lined the streets branching from the main road as well as a hill community that overlooked the street where the festival took place. I declared that I should live in Laguna Beach and thrive as an artist there and then I looked on Zillow for the prices and changed my mind.

While the artwork was beautiful, I couldn’t help but think that if I wanted to, I could make the same work myself. That watercolor of the ocean? I’ve done one like it. Illustrations on found paper. It’s interesting but I’d rather make it myself and tweak it to be perfect. There was a set of cards of a quirky anthropomorphic creature that I considered acquiring for myself, but I figured it might be a cool project to make on my own.

And therein lies my conundrum of supporting other artist, especially those considered ‘established’ by their masses. I want to enjoy the artwork and show support, but I can’t move myself to drop money on most. It comes from my own equating of support = financial support, due to the fact that many can’t live off their work. I would like aid in creating an environment where someone can do what they love and live comfortably doing it. So I struggle with wanting to and not finding reason to do it.

Art fairs are there not only to expose the viewer to the art, or just for the artist to show off their work, but a place for money transactions. In most of the booths, the art is displayed within the booth, either on the walls or hanging, with the register front and center. It’s hard not to notice and have in mind that these artists have shown up with the intention of selling work. I’m discouraged to admire the work for too long because to give false hopes. And then there’s the awkward acknowledgement if I, or one of my family members, happen to mention that I too am an artist. And so my journey continues in balancing my own preconceived notions on what is acceptable and helpful with my own right to decide on what I want to do with my money.

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