Go for the music, stay for the hand-printed T-shirts and pistol-shaped belt buckles.
Austin City Limits Music Festival brings more than just musicians together. ACL’s Art Market will play host to 29 artisans showcasing wares ranging from hammocks and guitars to TOMS.
“A festival like ACL still represents a huge bump in exposure for us as well as retail sales,” said Leann Rock, co-owner of the Austin-based Chaos Card Company. “People come from all over, as far as Chile and Japan and we have regular customers that look for us year after year. We meet a lot of great people, both ticket holders and other artists as well.”
At the market, festival goers are exposed to brands and shops they might otherwise be oblivious to. Drive by Press, a wood block screen-printing studio, has attended the festival since 2009, co-founder Joseph Velasquez said.
“Showcasing at ACL allows us visibility to a vast and diverse audience from all over the world,” Velasquez said. “Having that type of visibility at festivals like this not only affects our online store but it also keeps us on the top of our game.”
Ramping up for the onslaught of customers is no easy feat. In addition to going about their daily business, art vendors have spent months preparing for what only amounts to six days of potential sales.
“Inventory is always an interesting part of doing an event so big,” said Ben Kazda, founder and owner of Hold Up vintage clothing. “Knowing what is going to be needed and what people are going to be looking for in the vintage/rocker clothing fashion is always changing, so trying to stay on top of that is always a fun time.”
Many artisans showcase handmade goods, which means a whole lot of preparation.
“The biggest challenge is printing all those shirts and dresses,” Rock said. “We really do print everything by hand, so we start printing months in advance.”
Building up stock in time for the festival is a common challenge among vendors. But for some of this year’s artisans, the real obstacle is simply getting there.
“The biggest challenge of the festival is getting two 14th-century heavy metal printing presses to Zilker Park,” Velasquez said.
Despite these challenges of inventory and set up, ACL provides invited artisans a chance to further their creative dreams and business opportunities.
Exposure to an international crowd for a record two weekends in a row could rack up an unprecedented amount of revenue for these artisans. ACL could bring Hold Up a little extra green that would be used to open a store, Kazda said.
Whether or not ACL fulfills these hopes, vendors are glad to be serving festival-goers with something much more special than a concert T-shirt.
“It is always a good time to be working with the people of Austin at a festival,” Kazda said. “We might not sleep much but it will be worth it all at the end of the day.”