Behind the Scenes: Artisphere 2015

Greenville, SC is home to one of the top ranked fine art festivals in the nation, drawing a crowd of over 75,000 people every year. This event showcases top notch art, craftsman demonstrations, and a wide range of performances. Artisphere is a big deal all around. To be a part of it as an artist...well, that’s a HUGE deal.

Nearly 1000 artists applied for 121 spots this year, so it was an honor to be selected. Being my first time exhibiting at Artisphere, I was certain it would be a great opportunity, if only for the exposure, but I truly underestimated things. It was a record breaking show as far as sales go, and to top that off, I won the People’s Choice Award. Thanks again to everyone who voted for me!

Preparing for Artisphere took months of hard work, and by the first week of May, I had more inventory than ever before. Although I’d originally applied for both jewelry and fiber art, I was only accepted for jewelry this time, but it ended up being a good thing. Focusing on jewelry alone stretched me to learn new techniques and expand my collection. I was also secretly glad to get a break from felting - it’s one of those things that’s enjoyable to do, but for the prices I’m able to charge vs. time involved, it’s barely worthwhile. Felting is fun for me, but bad for business.

As with every show, there’s highs and lows. This time, there were extremes of both.

High: winning the People’s Choice Award. It was an unexpected surprise, and we’ll be using the prize money for a nice weekend away for our 10th anniversary in June. I can’t remember the last time I had a day off and I’m really looking forward to it!

Low: pulling up Friday morning and realizing I forgot to rent a tent. I’m an over planner, an over packer, and generally lose sleep over the possibility of forgetting things, so to discover I omitted something pretty darn important, just hours before the festival opened, was a humbling & stressful experience that left me with a 14 hour migraine. Special thanks to the rental place that raced over within the hour and set up a tent, and to Carrie Braun, one of the organizers, for keeping me from bursting into an ugly cry.

As with past shows, I geeked out on stats. Here’s a breakdown of the successful weekend in numbers:

Curious what happens behind the scenes, before the festival officially begins? It goes something like this...

Being a part of a show like Artisphere is an incredible opportunity to meet customers in person and earn a nice lump sum paycheck, but it's also a chance to invest in some pretty amazing original art. At every show we participate in, we allow ourselves to spend up to 10% of sales supporting other artists. It's easy to do, there's so much talent out there! Whether we're from different states or the same town, we're all a part of this creative community. I want to contribute to this very special economy, not just profit from it. If I'm going to be posting #buyhandmade or #shoplocal, I need to put my money where my mouth is, especially in my own community. But really, all of that aside, it's a total delight to buy original art right from the source. I know I'll treasure each and every one of these pieces, not just because they're beautiful, but because I met the person who created it. 

Full list of artists below:

1. Tiny vase by Tara Underwood

2. Original painting by Janina Tukarski Ellis

3. “Joyce” Sculpted donkey head by Julie Kradel

4. Pair of green pots by John Herbon 

5. Fox & Rabbit reproduction on canvas by Phillip Singer

6. Bunny tile by Julie Kradel

7. Original painting by Joseph Bradley

8. Bowl by Amelia Stamps

9. 2 Mixed media pieces by Michelle Prahler

10. Original woodblock print "Night on the Island" by Kent Ambler

11. Sterling silver necklace by Leandra Hill

12. Original woodblock print "Psalm 108" by Kreg Yingst