Artists grow their businesses during Sunday show
To the shoppers meandering Cabrillo Boulevard during the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show, the market may mean a fun activity on a warm Sunday. The vendors, though, see potential.
Travis Hacking, an artist selling a plethora of engraved goods, has wanted to sell at a prominent market like the Arts and Crafts Show since he was a kid.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of this,” he said.
But it’s not easy securing a spot to sell. When vendors avoided the show during the pandemic, he saw an opening.
“I do painting and all different forms of art, but I wanted to do something that was really different,” he said. “There’s a lot of paint and a lot of good painters and all kinds of people, but no one’s doing engraving.”
Across a couple tables cloaked in black cloth, he displays his engraving on framed glass, cups, an ashtray and vases. He has engraved windows and other mediums not compatible with the art walk.
He estimates 25% of his sales come from the Sunday show. He sells on Instagram, eBay and tried Etsy for a bit, but he doesn’t like the marketing side of the sale.
He has been disappointed in the art show’s turnout, but not surprised. In his retail job, sales have been slow, too.
“It’s always heavy tourism, he said. “I’d say like, 70% of the business is out of towners. But now just because everywhere is pretty much locked down and you’re not supposed to travel far, it’s a lot slower than normal.”
Olga Hotujac, an oil painter who has sold at the art show for many years, said the customers may be fewer, but they’re enthusiastic.
“This year they’re really excited to walk. I think they are pretty happy to be outside,” she said. “It was closed in March and when it opened, my customers were very happy that we’re open.”
The pandemic positioned her to be able to secure a gallery space in Solvang. She opened Olga Hotujac Gallery, located at 444 1st Street, on Dec. 15.
“I always had a dream to be a gallery owner,” she said. “I decided that it’s a good time, and space was available. I took the opportunity to do it because opportunities don’t always show up.”
Her customers, friends and fellow artists have visited her new gallery and enjoyed seeing her accomplish her goal. She hopes it can inspire new artists.
“That’s a big motivation for the young artists. We don’t have a lot of young artists like me, you know, so maybe they will motivate them to come in here in the show,” she said.
Even though she has her own space to sell her art, she is happy to continue to sell at the art show. She feels a sense of community with the other vendors.
“Most of the people really enjoy it. Like, I really enjoy doing this, and this is for me,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle for the people, the artists.”
The show is an all-day event for the artists and crafters. They set up early and wait for the crowd, even if it’s a smaller group of shoppers this season.