- Housing – it’s great to be in a nice hotel. It’s better if they are all in one or two hotels, rather than spread out. If they are not within walking distance, they have to figure out how to get back and forth to the event. One more thing to worry about. Some events place artists with hosts in their homes. This helps with costs, but can be difficult for the artists. The hosts often expect the artist to spend time with them and we just don't have the energy to do that and be at the festival all day. I personally prefer to stay at a hotel, so I can decompress at the end of the day.
- Breakfast onsite – some of the hotels do not offer any breakfast, so if that’s the case, it’s nice to have an artist’s tent or oasis where we can get coffee and something to eat before we start. Otherwise we have to spend time looking for food and then pay out of our pocket to eat.
- Artist’s Welcome Dinner – many events will arrange either a dinner at the beginning or end of the event. The beginning (like the Thursday night before the event) usually works well. Most artists arrive in the day and want to connect with each other and socialize a bit. Once they hit the streets, they don’t really have a lot of time to talk to each other.
- Providing tempera, chalk, pans, brushes, rollers – not all events do this, but for the artists flying in, it is nice to know about a week ahead if they need to bring their own or not. What kind of chalk is being provided? Box of 24 or 48? Brand? It all effects how well we can execute our art.
- Getting from the airport to the hotels & to the site – Some events make up a spread sheet ahead with all this info on Google so the artists and event people all have access and know who is staying where. This makes it easier for the ones with cars to help with rides.
- Parking at the hotel and event - Provide a detailed map of where to park, what it will cost, if there are passes for the artists, etc.
- Awards, Competition & Stipends – Most of the artists who do this really don’t like competitions. They’d rather have the money spread out among the artists. An event could still give a couple of awards, but not money. That’s the way they do it in Germany, and it works well. For example, they have 500 euros for European artists, and 1,500 euros for the artists traveling from the US or Mexico. They use it to buy their travel (plane, car, train), and whatever they don’t spend is their fee, plus tips at the event. The event takes care of the hotel and all food.
- People's Choice Award - this always sounds like a great idea, but making sure that a local doesn't bring in all their family to vote, or someone doesn't "steal" votes (yes, it happens), it's difficult to make this fair.
- Fewer/Better artists – this is something I seem to constantly be talking to events about, that sometimes less is more. If you have x dollars, and 25 artists, each artist gets a decent amount, and you get some really great art. If you have x dollars and 50 artists, each artist gets half as much. You will have more art, but you won’t attract the best, plus it also spreads the tips out farther.
- Artist's Liason - Designate a staff member or volunteer to be the go to for all questions that the artists might have before, during and after the event.
- Artist on the Committee - Have at least one artist who actively participates in the festival on your committee. They are a great resource for feedback on what the artists want and need.
- Promote the artists – each artist should have a picture, bio and link to their website on your website. Promote them on social media as the event approaches. They will share and spread the post, helping you to reach a wider audience.
Treat Your Artists Right
The main reasons the artists do street painting events is for exposure and to travel and create art with other artists. A few do it for a living too, but the majority do not. So if you can make the artists feel special, it goes a long way to bringing good artists back each year. Happy artists make great art.
This past weekend, the street painting festival I attended experienced a bad rain out. I have to say, I have only had a bad rain out about 2 other times in 15 years of street painting, so it doesn’t happen a lot. But it will happen occasionally, and every event should have a back up plan in place and share it with the artists ahead.
Back up plans for bad weather should include some of these items:
The bottom line is prepare for the worst, hope for the best. One of the best events that is prepared for inclement weather I've attended is Chalktoberfest in Marietta, Georgia. One year we had three storms/rains come through in two days, yet we were able to have finished art at the end of the day on Sunday, because of the preparation and planning.
Director of the International Street Painting Society, Jennifer is a chalk artist with 9 years of street painting experience, over 25 years of advertising experience and a lifetime of experience as an artist.