1. How do artists get involved?
The best way to get involved is by filling out the online application. The festival accept adults, students and children at both amateur and professional levels. Other artists get involved by meeting Denise Kowal at the various other street art festivals she attends around the world, and impressing her with their work and passion!
2. How do the artists benefit?
Most first-time street painters are hooked after their first event. The interaction with the public and the sincere appreciation and feedback makes this event a great ‘feel good’ adventure. Artists describe the two-day process as one of the best and most rewarding experiences as an artist.
3. How long do the artworks last, and can they be preserved?
Street art is an ephemeral art form, and is not meant to last. It’s beauty is in its creation, and not solely in the finished product so we do not try to preserve the artworks. We also discourage artists from spraying any fixing agents on their finished product because it can cause changes to the image while doing little to actually preserve it. The permanence of a piece depends more on the expertise of the artist and their ability to ‘grind’ the chalk into the pavement, as well as the environment, weather, and traffic. Last year the city removed all of the art from the street the day after the festival, but in 2010 they were left in place and faded away over a 2 month period. Vertical artworks can last a lot longer, and their life-span depends largely on the property owners whose walls have been painted.
4. What happens if it rains?
We wait until it stops. We will make every attempt to protect artwork that has already been started by covering it over with plastic, but water can still travel under it if it’s raining very hard. Water droplets stain the artworks but artists just wait and start as soon as the rain stops, fixing any part that’s been damaged. Adapting to changeable weather is part of the process of the art form. Artists just learn to deal with it and the performance goes on!
5. Can artists make a living from street painting?
Currently there are around 500 artists in the world whose primary source of income is street painting. In fact, many of the artists who travel to this festival make their living as street painters, earning between $2500 and $25,000 for 3 day’s work. Some of our artists earn upward of $100,000 for a single installation! Then there are the street painters that do it the old-fashioned way by placing a hat or collection jar next to their piece and working for tips.
6. What kind of chalks do the festival use?
The festival provides chalk for the artists, and depending on the artwork, we provide different kinds of pastels. Good pastels are very costly. For example, you can purchase a set of 48 chalk pastels for anything from $5-$500. It all depends on the quality you require. Many artists manufacture their own chalk to suit their individual needs, and sometimes sell and trade pastels with other artists. Handmade, high quality chalks are stronger, more permanent, more vibrant, and less dusty than lower quality, mass manufactured ones. Some of the installations at the Sarasota Chalk Festival cost upwards of $1000 in materials alone.
7. How long does the festival take to plan?
The festival takes a whole year to plan! We begin to plan the next festival the minute we’ve said goodbye to all the artists from the last one. It takes a lot of work as we need to secure all of our funding, plan all our events, organize flights and accommodation for the artists, etc. etc. Thankfully we are blessed to have many wonderful and talented volunteers who help us out throughout the year. The festival could not happen without them.
8. How long do the artworks take to create?
That depends on the size of the artwork and the number of people working on it, as well as the quality of the surface and complexity of the design. The festival gives artists 3 full days to complete a 10’ x 10’ painting. Larger artworks can take upwards of 6 days. Students usually work in teams and will complete their work in one day, and our Future Madonnari children usually complete their pieces in under 60 minutes.
9. Are the event organizers disappointed when the art fades away?
No, the festival celebrates street painting which is a performance art. It could be compared to a ballet; everybody leaves when the show is over, but the memory of the dancing, its beauty and the emotions it stirred remain with you for a long time afterwards. We are very focused on Product in this society, whereas this festival celebrates Process. However, we do appreciate the fact that not everybody can attend the event, and so for that reason we like to let the artwork fade naturally over time.
10. I see artists walking on their artworks when they are creating them. Does this damage the artworks?
Yes, it can do over time. To minimize the damage we do not let the public walk on the artwork during the festival, and the artists try to walk on their piece as little as possible. However, sometimes it is necessary for an artists to walk on their work when trying to reach a particular area.
11. Do any pavement artists live in the Sarasota area?
We are working hard to encourage local artists to enter the field of pavement art. We encourage children and students as well as professional artists so that one day our community will have a great many pavement artists working to make Sarasota an even more beautiful and creative place. As a result of our efforts there are a number of local artist who can boast pavement art as one of their skills.
12. Tell us about the “Little Chalkers” chalk area?
The “Little Chalkers” area is for the young and young at heart. It is a space in which we allow anyone to create a masterpiece of their own. We work with sponsors to provide the space and chalk (colorful pastels) for free! The area is generally open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the event, but many people chalk at all hours of the festival and we do not discourage that. We enjoy offering people the opportunity to jump in and get their hands dirty!
13. Tell us about “Going Vertical”?
Going Vertical is a new branch of the festival that was added in 2011. It celebrates another fantastic form of street art; mural art. We flew in some of the best artists from all over the world and they created some fantastic pieces with the co-operation of the city, and the owners of the properties whose walls were painted. Mural art is great in that it is more permanent that chalk art, and leaves a constant reminder of last year’s fun and festivities. ‘Going Vertical’ also featured the U.S. debut of a new kind of vertical art called ‘Cellograff’. This is a temporary form of mural art in which images are sprayed onto big sheets of cellophane that are wrapped between two trees or lamp posts. The result can be quite breathtaking! We had a great response to ‘Going Vertical’ last year and are excited to have it again in 2012.