AthFest 2022 vendors celebrate the return of art, community and festival Athfest

The AthFest Music Festival 2022, organized by the non-profit organization AthFest Educates, is well known for being a weekend full of live music. The event takes place in the city center with many stages, after-hours shows at iconic venues in Athens and a line-up of dozens of artists. As impressive as the musical talent, however, is the market of artists at the festival – a sea of ​​white tents, promising prints, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, carpentry, leather goods and more.

This year’s market includes more than 55 providers, according to the AthFest website. Everyone offers the visitors of the festival something unique, with art and handicrafts, varying in different environments, styles and price points. The artists ‘market shows that Athens’ artistic talent extends beyond its acclaimed music scene and into the visual arts community.

Artists from near and far

A graduate of the University of Georgia and artist Sophie Good, owner of Sophie Shannon Art, sold her ceramics at this year’s market. She first attended AthFest as a salesperson in 2019 and she said she was looking forward to returning.

“Everyone’s really excited to get it back,” Good said. “It’s a great way to show art, music in Athens – I just feel happy that there is a large enough community to support something like that.”

Good fell in love with ceramics while studying at UGA, where she majored in studio art, she said. Ceramics allows her to incorporate her love of painting into a three-dimensional environment. To prepare for this year’s festival, she began making her products about two months before the event, she said. She strives for variety in her work and tries to reproduce designs that were popular in her previous shows, such as models with mushrooms.

Sophie Good sold her ceramic artwork at this year’s AthFest music and arts festival. (Photo / Jessica Grattini; @jgratphoto)

Former art teacher Dan Smith also sold art at the festival. His cabin stood out from the other white tents nearby, marked by a green creature with the words “Look, Dan paints!” Scratched on his teeth. Red banners with the words “Spontaneous Monster” hung vertically on either side of the tent.

Smith’s distinctive style of art, accentuated by simple lines, bright colors and animated, monster-inspired faces, can be found beyond the corners of his tent. He created the thematic art for this year’s festival, found everywhere from stages to the NGO’s website and even the cover of Flagpole.

He was originally selected to make art for AthFest in 2020, before COVID-19 closed the festival for two years. He said that finally showing his art at the festival felt a bit anti-climactic after two years, but he was also relieved that AthFest decided to postpone the use of his illustrations until the event could return in person. As an artist, he enjoys returning to personal markets.

“It’s good to be back with things like that. Probably the last market I made was probably 2020, Big City Bread, and I don’t think I had anything else. It looks like a century ago, “Smith said.


Dan Smith made themed art for the AthFest music and arts festival in 2022, and had a booth to sell his artwork. (Photo / Sidney Chansamone, @ sid.chansa)

Other suppliers traveled outside the city to be part of this year’s market. Mary Knox of Atlanta and Almond Pace of Florida traveled to sell their jewelry and clothing, respectively. The market was open from noon to 10 pm on Saturday, which did not give traveling vendors much time to explore the city. However, Knox said she was excited to eat at The National, which she visits every time she was in town, and Pace said she was eager to explore some local breakfast spots before returning to Florida.

Pace specializes in illustrations and screen printing. Her distinctive designs are sugar skull mermaids, which she paints and then prints on goods ranging from tank tops to stickers. Pace had a double AthFest booth – two of the market’s standard white tents placed side by side – to give her more space to sell her wares. Although it was her first time at AthFest, she said she loved Athens and appreciated how open and receptive people were to her art.

Knox, who founded and owns Oh So Fitting, a jewelry business, has attended AthFest in the past. She said she was glad the festival returned this year, adding that customers seemed just as excited to return to the market. She designs her products to be light and hypoallergenic, and most of her business comes from art shows like AthFest. She does a show around the Atlanta subway almost every weekend, she said.


Mary Knox sells jewelry from her Oh So Fitting business at this year’s AthFest music and arts festival. (Photo / Sidney Chansamone, @ sid.chansa)

A community of artists

Like the art providers, the festival participants came from different places to see the live music and the AthFest market. Georgia-born Leylani Segura said she was visiting Athens with a friend who was visiting UGA. This was her first time visiting the city, and although she had not crossed any state borders when she entered the city, she said it was hard to believe she was in the same condition.

“I’ve lived in Georgia all my life and in fact I just told my friend that it’s surprising to see that there are so many cool people in Georgia because it’s my fault that I think of it as just a red state and all the stereotypes about it.” I like the community and I just see how everyone is so creative, “Segura said.

In addition to the visitors for the first time, the festival hosted a number of veterans – locals of Athens, who visit the festival every year. Jeff Auerbach is one such festival goer who was at the festival on Saturday with his two daughters. He said events like AthFest are part of what he loves most about living in the city. He said they went to the reproductive rights rally earlier in the afternoon and then headed to the artists’ market. The return of AthFest two years later made him feel that things were returning to normal, he said.

“I feel good now. One of the things we love to live in Athens [are] events and I feel like we are living in Athens again, “he said.

Good said he appreciates living in a city where young people can work as full-time artists. In addition to selling her ceramic art, she works as a studio manager at Southern Star Studio. While her studio concert helps pay some bills between doing art shows. She is happy to have decided to stay in Athens after finishing school, she said.

“I’m grateful that Athens is organizing events like this that support and expand the community of artists,” Good said. “I just feel really lucky.”


AthFest salesman Dan Smith has a different style of art, accentuated by simple lines, bright colors and animated, sometimes inspired by monster faces. (Photo / Sydney Chansamone, id sid.chansa)

Smith echoed Good’s opinion, but added that it was particularly satisfying to work at a festival that benefited AthFest Educates. Smith worked as a teacher of fine arts for 20 years at Gaines and Barnett Shoals Elementary School and is currently the Fine Arts and Physical Education Coordinator for the Clark County School District. He said AthFest helped him fund many initiatives and “extras” by inviting artists to meet with students during his work in education.

AthFest also offered Smith a chance to reconnect with former students, several of whom came to visit his tent at the market. He said reconnecting with students was one of his favorite parts over the weekend.

One of my children came back and said, “I remember the monster Bobster. You painted it all the time you were teaching, “so that’s great,” Smith said.

With the end of the last day of the festival and the sellers packing their goods, many artists had upcoming shows to prepare for. Good said he plans to sell his products at the Oconee Fall festival, and Knox said he plans to return to Athens around Christmas for another show. But despite plans for the future, the return of AthFest offered both vendors and attendees a chance to appreciate the visual arts and each other, even for just one weekend.

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