Last week I completed the two year Emerging Artists as Entrepreneurs Program (EAEP) through the St. Louis Art Fair. What an amazing experience! The hardest part of learning something new is often figuring out how to jump into the swirling mass of “unknown-ness” and start putting pieces together. That’s why gems like the EAEP are, well, gems.
First of all, the program is lead by the President and Director of Operations & Programming of the St. Louis Art Fair- AKA Cindy and Laura- AKA the top dogs- AKA two of the most beautiful, knowledgeable, and encouraging souls you will ever meet. Even though they could have said they were too busy taking care of the 185 other artists, both of them spent a lot of time and energy with us throughout the whole program. After applying for the EAEP, these ladies are your first point of contact.
As an Emerging Artists, this what you can expect:
For the first year of the program, a group of experienced artist vendors are gathered to be mentors. They participate in panel discussions and allow Emerging Artists (EAs) to help out and get hands on experience throughout the weekend. EAs sit in on lectures and Q&A sessions, and then following everyone from the Judges to the mentors around all weekend. In the process EAs learn what it takes and how it works to be in an art fair- like really how it works. You may, like me, at first think that the artwork is the most important part of an art fair. In some ways it is. However, if you don’t know how to properly pack your car to get to the fair, put up your tent, design you booth (walls, lighting, & weights to combat the wind included), accept payments, deal with taxes, & a slew of other details, the artwork will only get you so far. If it sounds overwhelming, it is, but Cindy, Laura, and all the mentors are there for the EAs every step of the way.
Year 1 in a Nutshell:
Emerging Artist: OMG I never thought of that.
Mentor/Cindy/Laura: That’s why we are telling you.
Emerging Artist: OMG I can’t do this.
Mentor/Cindy/Laura: Yes you can! Go look at some awesome artwork to calm down.
Year two is when you get to show off all the cool things you learned the year before by actually showing and selling your artwork! The Emerging Artists are given a 20ft x 20ft tent, wall panels, and lighting to share. Together you design your space, put the walls and lights up, hang your artwork, talk to everyone that stops by your booth, sell as much art as you can, take it all down, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We crammed 36 hours of work into 3 days. The art fair life is not for the faint of heart.
Year 2 in a Nutshell:
Emerging Artist: OMG something is wrong with our tent.
Mentor/Cindy/Laura: Use your noggin.
Emerging Artist: OMG we figured it out!
Mentor/Cindy/Laura: Our babies are growing up! xoxo
That’s not all though! As a part of the program, the Judges come and talk to each EA, which culminates in one Emerging Artist receiving an award and getting to come back the next year in booth of their own, free of charge. #OMG.
Considering we all learned so much and did a great job displaying our work, I am absolutely honored to share that I won the award this year! I am thrilled and grateful to have had the opportunity to show my work alongside so many great artists again next September.
I’m also thankful for all the new relationships that came out the program! A huge shout out to our group of Emerging Artists: Jenna, Kim, Stacy, Amber, Susan, Lizzie, and Emily! Y’all are gracious, creative, and encouraging to work with and be around. Much Love! Another shout out to Cindy, Laura, and all the mentors who spend their precious time teaching and empowering us! I don’t know how I would have broken into the art fair world without your introduction and instruction. Thanks for making something big and scary become manageable and exciting. See you next year!
Do you think the Emerging Artists as Entrepreneurs Program could help your art career? Since the answer is a definite yes, find our more information about applying on the Cultural Festival website!