Chalk Festivals 101 – A crash course for anyone wanting to start a festival

gachalkartists Chalk 101, Chalk Festival, DIY, How To, Tutorials

Are you thinking about starting a chalk festival? Awesome! We’ve developed this post to give good tips, dos, and don’ts to people organizing an event. We can connect you with a chalk festival consultant(s) if you need, too! Reach out to us here.

When is a good time to have a festival?
It depends on where you live, but most festivals are in the spring or fall. Some one day festivals take place during the summer, but the heat can get so brutal that this is not very common.

How long should the festival be?
People seem to really love the huge chalk pieces. See the question below to learn more about that/how many days the festival should be. Most festivals “open” at 10 am for viewing, though they don’t turn people away if they want to stroll around in the morning. Most festivals close at sun down.

How long does it take chalk artists to complete works?
At two day festivals, a standard size for a street painting/chalk art is 10′ x 10′. We suggest 7′ x 7′ or smaller for a one day festival. Artists will usually arrive at sun up and work until sun down.

When is the best time to view the chalk works? When will people come?
Experienced festival visitors usually visit on the final day of the festival towards the end of when the pieces are complete. That’s because they want to see the pieces finished! Things are usually slow in the mornings but gain traction at the end of the day. However, most attendees come the first day of the festival will come more than once because they want to see the progress.

Make sure there is adequate space for spectators going either direction on the street.
Some festivals double up and have two 10′ pieces going on a street but, in our experience, this has caused traffic issues.

Have stanchions or some barrier going around the artists.
Once your event gets established, it can get super crowded and crazy. Especially if it’s a two day festival, and it’s almost the end of the second day (that’s when EVERYONE comes because they want to see the finished pieces). It’s not unheard of for a festival to double or triple in attendees each year.

Alcohol and chalk art
Unrestricted drinking near the event can create headaches for artists and festival goers alike. I’ve heard endless stories of people saying and doing stupid things to the artists and artwork because there was alcohol involved. When including alcohol in your event, make sure you do so responsibly and include other safety factors to prevent damage to the art or artists.

How do I recruit professional street painters/chalk artists for my event?
Create a plan for your event and have a serious budget for your artists and you will attract artists.

There’s a whole network of chalk artists around the world and word spreads quickly if you reach out to a professional organization like the Georgia Chalk Artists Guild.

What can I offer sponsors if they fund the event?
This is a great question and allows you to be creative in determining just that. Some festivals have us chalk the sponsor logo underneath our chalk art, while some festivals drop a plastic piece with the sponsor name over top of our piece. Most festivals have sponsor names or logos on the tshirts that they sell at the events. Some festivals give the artists t-shirts and have the sponsor logos on the back of the shirt so that, when people take photos of us working, the sponsor logos are visible and photographed over and over.

Other tips/things to know:

  • Many festivals provide chalk for the artists- generally, at the minimum, a box of chalk pastels like KOSS.
  • Most festivals provide water for the artists, some even going as far as having a volunteer go around with a cooler every 30 minutes and passing them out to us to force us to stay hydrated.
  • We go through duct tape, visqueen/tarps, baby wipes, bottled water, and sunscreen like crazy.
  • Some amazing festivals provide masseuses for the artists. However, most of us are working like crazy trying to get our pieces done that we never get to use the masseuse.
  • NEVER ASK ARTISTS TO WORK FOR FREE OR FOR EXPOSURE. It’s an extreme faux pas and it shows that you don’t value their work.