Monday, March 31, 2008


"In today's world the artist is on the endangered species list. The world is increasingly moving towards eradicating individualism from society. Without individualism there is no art, without art there is no beauty and without beauty there is no quality of life" ~ PopArtDiva™ aka The Normal Challenged Artist™

You may have seen them around your town, those white tents and portable galleries, the signs and balloons announcing a fine art show for the weekend. You may have even stopped by to enjoy the pleasure of viewing the talent and creativity on display. You visited with the artists and asked questions about their work and, possibly, you even purchased a new treasure to add to your own art collection. But the art is only part of the unique story of the traveling artist; the real story lies in the road the artist took to get that art to you and why they travel that path.

Contrary to popular myth, the traveling artist is not a happy-go-lucky free spirit, unencumbered by life's realities. The traveling artist has the same mortgages, family responsibilities and life problems as anyone else. These talented individuals have the added responsibilities of any corporation or business enterprise and they must constantly balance these business sciences with their creative qualities. A successful traveling artist is not only a creative individual following their passion but a multi-level executive with knowledge of all the elements of modern business.

Many artists travel each weekend to a different city or state, often driving long hours and hundreds of miles for a two to four day festival. They spend hours setting up their booths; days dealing with the public, and often hazard severe weather, security risks, and even errant wildlife to bring the apogee of their creative expression to the community. They must deal with multiple city and state taxes and licenses, rising show fees and jurying costs, increasingly larger shows and greater competition, the multiple requirements by show promoters and jurying panels and a sometimes uncaring or uninformed populace, all the while maintaining a positive attitude. After all this, there are only two or three days remaining in the week to design, produce and package their art. Their personal life quite often suffers from the hundreds of hours needed to run their business.

You may be asking yourself at this point, "Then WHY do they do it? Are they idiots?" Quite the contrary, most traveling artists are highly educated, the majority holding Bachelor's degrees, many with Masters and a few with multiple degrees or even Doctorates. Most have degrees in the arts, some in the sciences. Almost all have been honored in some fashion for the excellence of their work; many hold the distinction of prestigious national or international awards. Some of these creative people have always been career artists, a few were involved in other professions and came to their talent later. Each person has a unique story of how they became a traveling artist, but the one common thread among all these diverse and intriguing individuals is their passion for their art, whatever form it takes. There is a driving need in each and every one of these people to create and to bring their creation to the people. They suffer the hardships because they believe that art is essential to the soul of mankind. They endure the long hours, inconsistent weather, the tedious drives, the hard labor and the fickle fates to bring you their vision, to bare their souls and give you the gift of their talent and their hearts.

In a society that is increasingly cutting funding for the arts, dropping cultural subjects from its school curriculums, and promoting censure of expression, these traveling artists might just be the last of their kind, the last cultural vanguard in a world closing in on free expression and individual rights.

So, the next time you see those white tents, make an effort to stop. Look at their work with a new eye, talk to the artist and ask questions. And take home a piece of their soul, they made it to share with you and bring you joy. You will be the richer for it and you will have helped save an endangered species.

Thank you,
The Normal Challenged Artist™

If you would like permission to copy or distribute this article, please contact PopArtDiva via e-mail at


Karlyn said...

When I drive down any street and happen upon an outdoor art exhibit, I always stop. I enjoy the uniqueness of the artists and their displays and I usually end up talking to one or two of them about their work. If you are ever in my area Terri (or vise-versa), it would be great fun to see your exhibit!

Pop Art Diva! said...

Better hurry! I'm going to be retiring soon! At 57 it gets harder all the time to handle the physical aspects of traveling to outdoor art shows.
I rarely leave the Sedona area anymore, though I used to travel cross country.