2023 Festivals Roundup

This years’ Green Man and End of the Road were our busiest ever. I came away with an overwhelming feeling of positive engagement – not just with with the festival goers who visit our little UKPA booth but also with the bands and management that we worked with (we had more bands/personnel popping in to say hello than we’ve ever had previously).

Folks just had really nice things to say about our work. Particularly at Green Man, where we’ve been established for a while, it’s genuinely a joy to hear that people look forward to visiting our space and seeing what’s new each year. We had some great conversations about music, art and design as well as people even asking technical design or screen printing questions.

And it’s always such a diverse group of folks – old people, young people, people in costume, others dressed in very little, and a whole meltingpot of enthnicities, genders, and indentifiers. It’s testimony to the welcoming environment of these particular festivals that people can be who they choose to be for the weekend. I always really love to see that.

Tommy Davidson Hawley demonstrating screen printing at the UKPA Tent at Green Man Festival 2023

It’s a lot of work for us to do events like these – on top of the energy it takes to create any sort of artwork in the first place. It’s so much nicer when positive interactions return some of that energy back to you.

Of course, from a practical point of view, sales were also good! But sales alone are not sustaining. Sales where people want to support the artist, not just own the object, are key.

UKPA Tent showing Screen Printed gig posters at End of the Road Festival 2023

A couple of cool interactions I’d like to share:

During a quieter spell where Luke and I were manning the booth, a lady was just taking in the artwork when she commented on a poster for Sons of Kemet and we struck up a conversation.

It turns out she was the partner of Shabaka Hutchings, the sax player and founding member of the band. She said that they love to see the work poster artists create in response to the music – not only that but they had Luke’s poster framed in their flat, and had my poster framed on the wall in Shabaka’s mum’s house.

Being fans of the band and Shabaka’s work in general, this was a real buzz for Luke and I and a reminder that our work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. People continue to enjoy the work long after we’ve moved our attention elsewhere, on to stressing about the next thing.

The second interaction was regarding my landscape prints. I always take a few to music festivals as even though not really music related they’re a big part of my practice as an artist.

A young American lady was interested in my ‘Descending Blencathra‘ print and wanted to know whereabouts it was in the UK. I showed her the accompanying map and talked about my love of the Lake District, and a little bit about how I approached the screen printing process. I don’t push for hard sales – it was simply a nice exchange and I wished her a good festival and she went on her way.

On the last day running our booth, an American chap got my attention and explained that it had been his sister I’d been chatting to and that she had not stopped talking about the Blencathra print.

Honestly, just that little exchange – that she had continued to think and talk about the print – has been something I’ve thought about more than a few times since. It’s really nourished and energised me.

Anyway, she had been planning on buying the print but he wanted to get it for her, and after a lovely conversation with him about his travels in the UK, he picked up one of my Nine Standards prints as well.

For me it was a real high point and book-ended what was already a great weekend.

Re-reading back the last few paragraphs, I’m suddenly wary of coming across a tad smug but I feel it’s important to celebrate little moments like these. Being an artist and putting pressure on yourself to make work for self and others can be hard and exhausting at times, so interactions like these really do help with motivation.

Finally, I need to give a proper and heartfelt thank you to my friends and colleagues in our little UKPA collective: Luke Drozd, Tommy Davidson-Hawley, Chris and Alex White, and Paul Kelly.

I think the work we produced this year was absolutely some of our best and I’m super proud of what we’ve collectively created. In fact I made a couple of little online pages where you can see all the work in one place:


Thanks for reading!

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