With Spring, come art shows. The itinerant artist takes to the road. While you pass through the white tent gauntlet, do you make conversation with the staunch-willed creatives, or do you nod and walk on? Have you wondered what it is like to parade your blood, sweat and tears before strangers in a strange town? Well, we here at Hip Green Scene decided to get to know a few of the brave exhibitors. We handed them a questionnaire, just for fun.
How did you decide to pursue this as a living?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: I’ve made and sold jewelry since I was 8. My family owned a farmer’s market, and I would always try to sell different things I made there. Eventually, I started an Etsy shop and when that took off, selling at shows seemed like the next step. I was sitting in an edit suite when one of my clients who silkscreens gig posters on the side recommended an indie craft show he did in Brooklyn. I drove to Brooklyn for the show, did really well and then I was hooked.
David Oleski/painter: On the advice of my high school art teacher, I decided to give it a try. Up until then I’d always thought of outdoor art festivals as glorified craft fairs, but I immediately met many artists of great talent and integrity, and I knew I was in good company.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): I love to create and I’m currently testing the waters by putting myself out there. I’m really just starting out right now so can only hope it is something I could do as a living.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): It is still supplementary income for me. I am an educator and that provides my primary support.
Do different shows have different personalities?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: Definitely. Some shows we do focus on vintage and repurposed found items, like the Country Living magazine shows. Some are fine art fairs. Some are street fairs. Some are Indie craft shows, like the Renegade Craft Fairs. Each attract completely different types of people but are fun for different reasons.
David Oleski/painter: Absolutely, shows can be like night and day from one city to the next. The presence of a prominent art museum tends to make a city have a richer understanding of the value of art, and this is reflected in the event.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): This is my second show ever, but already I can see that different shows draw in different crowds. It’s interesting to engage with such a range of folks.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): Definitely. I’m accustomed to the indie craft markets. Arts in the Park is my first arts festival of this scale and sort.
What is the worst thing about participating in an art show?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: Setting up! I have so many small pieces of jewelry to put out, and I’ve managed to collect so many antique decorations over the years. It takes forever to set up.
David Oleski/painter: All things are challenges, to quantify something as the worst would be taking it all out of context of the freedoms this lifestyle allows you.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): Entering with certain expectations and not meeting them. And forgetting to bring enough food–sometimes funnel cake just doesn’t make the cut!
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): Price understanding with visitors. They see the object that is refined so much that it is hard to grasp the process, materials, training, studio space, and equipment that is involved.
What is the best thing about it or your work?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: I love refining my displays year by year and show by show. It’s nice to have an excuse to shop for antiques since I use so many in my displays and also in my jewelry. I’ve always been a junk and antique hoarder, so it’s nice to finally have an excuse for collecting things.
David Oleski/painter: Art shows are a great opportunity to meet your audience, and while the main focus is to have income, the side effect is that your work evolves as a result of the interaction you have with the show attendees.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): I’m really loving the ability to meet so many people through doing these shows, and it’s a really great feeling when people are drawn to your booth and spend time looking at everything.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): It’s about connecting with the individuals that will either gift or live with your work. You are able to get direct information from your clients.
Who is the one person you would most like to see or buy your work?
David Oleski/painter: Anyone that can appreciate my work enough to own it shows a capacity to place a greater value on their own lives, and everyone is worthy of being a collector of my work if they so choose.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): I’m happy with whomever enjoys my work and really appreciate when people recognize the efforts that go into a piece. I would like to trade with other artists and start building my own collection of work through bartering.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): I don’t envision my patrons as any particular sort beyond the young or young at heart. Gotta have a sense of humor, or this little thing can be a cruel joke.
Whom do you admire and why?
David Oleski/painter: I admire anyone that places the value of a strong work ethic above personal comfort and complacency.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): People who are doing what they can to do what they love! It’s quite liberating to be around that energy.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): My first educators–I aspire to inspire my students like mine did for me.
What three things about you equip you for this lifestyle?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: 1) Having a large family. I have 10 siblings, and luckily they’re all gifted in very different areas as well as willing to help me. My brothers are great at tearing apart typewriters to make jewelry and soldering copper pipe displays. My sisters are great at helping me make jewelry and collecting unique supplies.
2) An understanding day job. I am a video editor by day, and my bosses are very understanding about me traveling to shows in between cutting tv commercials and short films. They’re actually very supportive and even seem to be proud of me.
3) A compulsive need to make things ALL THE TIME. I can’t sit without working on a jewelry project. And I usually have an extra project on hand for whoever is next to me. My siblings joke that I’m always quick to clear the dinner table on holidays in order to spread out enough projects to keep everyone busy for the rest of the day.
David Oleski/painter: 1) I refuse to compromise my standards. 2) I think big. 3) I am strongly motivated to always succeed in everything I do.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): 1) I am always creating. 2) I love traveling through new places. 3) I want to interact with other artists out there.
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): work ethic, thick skin, and more perseverance–and I can laugh at myself…eventually.
What is your favorite city/town? Why?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: I love traveling to Chicago. Our best shows have been there, and it is an easy city to navigate. Not to mention it’s always easy to find a good place to eat. The people there are stylish and also have a little extra money to spend on jewelry.
David Oleski/painter: Too many to mention–Chicago is fantastic, Richmond has wonderful charm, Miami has a great personality, same with Atlanta. There are great restaurants in every city, and wonderful places and people. It’s a privilege to not have to make this choice, and to enjoy the great things in all cities.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): What a hard question! I love Berlin because of the strong creative community, the history, the museums and it’s one of the few cities I can say I’ve really gotten to know well. Oh, and the beer is good too. And the falafel!
Sarah Turner/Turnerbots(ceramic robots): Richmond is pretty great–beautiful, great restaurants, the river, and art friendly public!
I write a travel blog. What are your best travel tips?
Elizabeth Voltz/ Rag Trader Vintage Reborn: Audio books! I just ordered a variety of fantasy, classic literature, mystery and self help audio books, and I can’t tell you how it has made a difference on long trips.
David Oleski/painter: I asked a foot cop where the best seafood place was in Greektown Chicago. He picked a good one, but the locals all have their favorites. If a restaurant looks too generic, it probably is. Trust your instincts, don’t waste your money. Eat light, and eat often, that’s the best way to try 5 different places every day.
Maria Galuszka/Butternut Press(bookbindery and pottery): Travel light and try not to enter a new place with strong preconceptions. Let yourself wander and don’t confine your experience to a strict itinerary.
A huge thanks from Hip Green Scene to our brave panel! You’ve all earned “A’s”. Learn more about their work: Elizabeth Voltz at www.ragtradervintage.com; David Oleski at www.davidoleski.com, Maria Galuszka at www.butternutpress.etsy.com, and Sarah Turner at www.turnerbots.com.