East Lansing Art Festival helps artists make valuable connections

Even in the Internet age, sometimes the best way to get noticed is to get out into the real world and get in front of people. The East Lansing Art Festival, which kicks off this weekend, offers artists a chance to connect with an audience of thousands over a two-day span.

“It’s a big opportunity to sell your work, but also to help people hear about your work,” said East Lansing-based fiber artist Susan Luks. “As nice as my webpage is, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic.”

And she should know. Luks works a day job as a computer programmer, then heads out on summer weekends to sell her colorful coats, wraps and scarves at art fairs and festivals around the Midwest. For Luks, who exhibits at about a dozen events each year, a hometown show is a great way to kick off the season.

“It’s where we work things out,” she said. “It’s better to realize you need something when you’re only a few miles from home, rather than 600 miles away.”

The festival, which features over 170 exhibiting artists, is a boon for participating artists, both in sales and in networking. The East Lansing Art Festival is the only outdoor art show that Lansing-based artist Ingrid Blixt participates in, but the connections she makes at the festival are important.

“It’s a good time of the year, and it’s great local exposure to me,” she said. “I get invited to exhibit at other events, and I get a lot of commissions after the festival. It generates a lot of income for me for the whole year.”

This year’s festival draws artists from 19 states, including participants from far-away states like California, and even one artist from Canada. Festival Director Michelle Carlson, who is gearing up for her 11th year working with the festival and her fourth as director, said that the East Lansing Art Festival has built a reputation as a great festival for artists. It was ranked No. 9 in Sunshine Artist’s 2016 200 Best Fine Art and Design Shows, which is based on artist votes.

“When artists see that, they know it’s good,” she said. “We generally provide really good sales, and we have a community that is really knowledgeable and appreciative of art.”

East Lansing Art Festival

10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday, May 20; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 21 FREE Downtown East Lansing

ELAFter Dark Concerts

7 p.m. Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 FREE Ann Street Plaza, East Lansing (517) 319-6804, elartfest.com