The artist-producer track
Post by Michael Lagocki
For the artistic folk who are deeply involved in artlovemagic, a track of how you might move through the organization has been developed. In truth, this is the track that developed itself, organically, more than us authoring it. It became the logical way to progress through artlovemagic.
It has 4 steps
(a fifth if you want to really drink the kool-aid).
We typically ask artists who want to work with us to volunteer, or at the very, least attend a show before doing live art with us. ArtLoveMagic is different from other arts organizations by our culture. Love and relationships is the core of everything we do. We approach this work from a giving spirit and that spirit is far more important to us than financial gain, or honestly, even the talent level of a particular artist. We work with new artists all the time. We are very comfortable with your talent growing with us. But love is always at the center.
Most people who volunteer with us will tell you it’s a blast. There’s no doubt we work hard, but what we do is brilliant fun. Serving others can be a joy, especially in a field you love like the arts. In our world, it’s very easy to see how your service affects the event and it’s artists.
Sometimes people jump in at this spot (though I will ask them to volunteer on a show before going on to the next stage). We ask that participating artists at artlovemagic follow a handful of principles.
1- We are about live art, not just sitting behind a table and selling something. You must create on site.
2- We are about a positive atmosphere. The audience is encouraged to talk to you, ask you questions about your work and tools and methods. A guiding principle for us from the beginning has been to “tear down the walls between the artist and the spectator”.
3- “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break in a storm”- Justin Nygren.
Live art events are organic, changes are made on the fly. The environment is a living, breathing participant in our script. It is very common for us to have to change plans slightly (or sometimes in a large way) right before (or even during!) an event. A flexible attitude keeps things from getting stressed. When there’s little to no stress, we can focus on being creative and having fun.
4- Grow. We are about artist development, and that means we hope to see our artists use the events to improve themselves. We encourage all artists to bring business cards (or some other contact method), have a strong presentation of their art, and offer variety of work for sale at a variety of prices. The networking opportunities at artlovemagic events are fantastic. It’s a great place to not only meet potential clients, but to learn from the other artists there. By paying attention to them, you will be exposed to new ways to create, display, and handle yourself.
5- Finally, enjoy yourself. Because we always use a variety of artists and performers, your shoulders are not holding up the event. A community is holding up the event. So you can chill and have a free spirit.
If you’re interested in going forward and actually producing an artlovemagic show, we will ask you to assist another producer first. Assistant producing is essentially about learning, and doing what you can to make someone else’s load easier. The lead producer role has a lot of mental things to keep on top of. For every item an assistant takes off their hands, they have that much more mental space to take care of the fine details.
Assistant Production is about loving people who are loving people.
Producer (small event)
And away we go….
Okay, so I think this is one of the most fun roles in all of artlovemagic. Producers of events have input on almost everything related to the experience. Most often they are responsible for picking the majority of the artists associated with the event. They have input on the theme and feel of that particular event, how it will be set up, who goes where, etc. They lead the pre-production meeting. They handle communication between the artists and performers leading up to the event. And of course, they oversee on the night of the event.
Good producers understand how to delegate, so they don’t necessarily have to do all of the above. Just make sure it happens correctly.
Giving new artists a chance to participate is one of my favorite aspects of this job. Dozens upon dozens of artists and performers have shown with us for their first time. And because of the atmosphere we create, odds are pretty good that they’re going to enjoy their first experience. They’ll always remember that experience, and they’ll always remember who the person that invited them in was. Here you have an opportunity to have a positive impact on an individual.
I always tell our producers that it is their chief responsibility to give the artists confidence that the event will go well. They do this by making sure the artists and performers understand their roles and feel supported in them. They do this by making sure the details of the event are covered and will go smoothly. They do this by making sure the advertising for an event has been properly handled and we will have a crowd. And they do this by bringing a calm, on top of it attitude to what they do (people will often take more from your energy and presence then what you say- if you look and seem hectic and rushed, that’s what your team will key in on no matter what you say).
After the event, producers have some light responsibilities like ensuring new artists with the collective get listed on our website’s artist & performers page, and seeing that a report and some photos get to David and the website team.
Producers start production on small events, like an Art & Coffee, before trying their hand at a major event, like a girlShow or Underground.
Note- Stage producer roles are a bit different than visual producers, but I’m not a stage producer, so you’ll have to ask Justin or Deborah about that one. I know they think about things like set times, flow between acts, sound and light presentations, etc.
Producer (large event)
Production on large events is extremely rewarding. Our large events are incredible, unique experiences that involve dozens of artists and performers and hundreds of audience members. Producers on these events author experiences that have real impact on the city’s art scene and on others lives (yes, really. Ask me about it sometime and I’ll introduce you to dozens of people who will tell you a large artlovemagic show had a real effect on their life).
But… don’t kid yourself about how much of your life this is going to take up. This is a big commitment. The girls who produced girlShow will tell you that their lives became girlShow for much of the time leading up to the event. Each of them also will tell you it was a fantastic experience, and that they’re going to produce a show of this level again.
Some of the best experiences of my life have been putting together these shows. It’s rewarding in so many ways because it has such an effect. Being a co-author of something like that, working and bonding with a team you trust, creating something new out of thin air, it’s exhilarating. The producers decide what will separate this particular event from others, what will be the new idea or new invention this time out the door that pushes the organization further.
Finally… the Core Team
The next level of involvement is on the core team, and the door is open there too. In fact, this whole article was written because I attended one of our Art & Coffee shows last night, and I was reflecting on how producer Amanda Davis has become so important to our story as a collective.
She painted at her first event years ago, and has since run every role in the crew. She’s led volunteer teams, assistant produced, authored and led a gallery hanging, produced a fantastic Art & Coffee, and is a co-producer of our upcoming major DART event.
The core team helps us create the overall story. They attend our open meetings, they produce large events, they help the organization find solutions to it’s challenges, and they help strategically drive ArtLoveMagic.
The core team of people changes over-time as well. Some people flow in and out over time. And that’s cool. We only ask that you complete what you take on. And let us know where you want to be involved. Amanda herself took a long period of time off once, and even I’m taking much of the Fall off from ArtLoveMagic (more on that in another writing).
ArtLoveMagic remains fresh and growing and exciting because the story is always changing and being written by a variety of authors. It’s easy to get passionate when you’re always trying new things and you know the outcome will have a positive effect on creative people and the creativity we share.
Our core principles- being intentionally positive, loving people, developing artists- never change. But the way these are applied, and by who, is in constant change. And that’s what keeps it so interesting.
photos by Dee Hill, Scott Dorn, Justin Nygren, Josh Dryk, Niole Rodriguez, and Jenice Johnson