Last week, on a rainy Saturday, I had my first experience selling my art in a festival setting! It was one of those things that I thought I would never do–my personality just isn’t right for selling my art in person, I thought. But, y’all, it was fun. Here’s the story of how it came to be!
Thank you, Etsy!
Two months ago, a librarian from Rockwall ISD contacted me via Etsy to invite me to attend the Rockwall Comic Fest. Organized by Rockwall ISD Libraries, this was the second year of an event aimed at encouraging kids to read and celebrate their nerdiness. I mean, I couldn’t get a better fit than this for my first art event! Any anxiety I had about being an amateur in the realm of professional art was balanced out by the fact that I knew my way around schools, teens, and books. I responded to the inquiry with an enthusiastic yes!
Preparing for the Event
I’m the kind of person who loves planning, but who also gets a high from rushing at the last minute. I was amazed at myself for somehow creating and sticking to a budget and a gameplan without completely freaking myself out.
In the two months that I had to prepare, I spent one month creating artwork for the event. This included digital artwork that I turned into posters, magnets, and stickers…
…and handmade watercolor bookmarks.
The last month was spent checking proofs, ordering prints, painting all the bookmarks I could, and buying all those little things that you need to sell stuff, like merchandise bags and display surfaces. I had planned things out so well that I approached festival day calmly, despite the fact that my daughter got sick that week and my students were stressing over their final days before their AP exams.
My biggest fear that day was not utter failure. No. It was going to the bathroom. The event was scheduled from 1 to 5 pm. That’s a long time to sit at a table by myself. I’m a teacher with a trained bladder, but still.
Fortunately, I arrived at the festival at the same time as Shannon Valentine, a fantasy artist from Plano. She’s been creating art and selling at festivals for years. I latched onto her. We set up our booths across from each other, and I timed my bathroom break perfectly. We both watched each other’s booths as we ran to the bathroom before the 1pm mark hit.
The bathroom problem solved, my next concern was utter failure. I just wanted to sell something, and thus be validated in pursuing my nerdy, bookish lettering.
And, y’all, these were my people.
I’m not going to feign greatness and say everything sold out and was a hit. In fact, because of all the setup that went into this first event, I did not make a profit at all. But I sold several things. And I got to see in real time how people reacted to my work.
I watched as parents and teachers chuckles over my posters, some even dragging their kids over to my table to say, “See? This is why you should read.” I saw kids get excited to see dinosaurs and colorful bookmarks. I was thrilled that my favorite products–Clever Girl, Dinosaurs Didn’t Read, I Read and I Know Things, Chillin and Readin, and my custom handlettered/handpainted bookmarks–were the ones that did well.
Overall, the Rockwall Comic Fest was an awesome experience. I learned a lot about selling and engaging with customers. I want to do it again. I hope I’ll be able to find more opportunities like this, and I really hope to attend this event again next year!
Interested in any of the items that were on sale at the festival? Check them out below!