Right now, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is in the process of finding our featured artist for 2022. If you are an artist or know an artist or like an artist, get in touch with us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 360-428-5959. Join the ranks of Yvonne Davis, Brett Varney, Karen Sistek, Andy Sewell, Teresa Saia, Randy Dana, Trish Harding, John Ebner ... and the list goes on!
As with everyone, Covid 19 has impacted our bottom line. Our Foundation is working with us this year to help fund our art program—commission the original, promote our art throughout Skagit Valley through our sponsors, and frame our artwork. You can help by donating here.
Our festival started in 1984 with a simple poster image with a single tulip. We kept that image in 1985, but in 1986, we started featuring an artist and a single tulip image for the year. In 1993, we went a step further, commissioning a piece of art and featuring the art on our brochure, on our poster and t-shirt images, as well as on notecards and postcards. Today we have a lovely collection of fine art in our festival office in downtown Mount Vernon. The medium varies (oil, acrylic, photography, dye, watercolor, mixed media and more), but the theme is the same: how does the artist depict the beauty of the annual tulip bloom in Skagit Valley?
All the images tell a story, personal to the artist and appealing to tulip fans. For instance, Gerry Friberg featured her cat Oliver in her image; Bart Rulon loves wildlife and he wanted to include trumpeter swans; Lee Mann loved the clouds, skies and trees of the valley as well as tulips; and last but not least, Diana Schmidt drew an image busy with life in the valley, complete with tulips as part of the Holstein cows. There are stories with each artist as to why and what drew them to do the festival art. The result is an immersion in Skagit Valley life as seen through tulips.
The process of choosing an artist to feature in a festival year is a bit nerve-wracking, both for the festival staff and board of directors and for the would-be artist. Some view it is as a competition, but really it is not. We want to find artists who can create a piece of fine art that will invite our fans to experience the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We want to hear from artists how they might depict the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival AND we want art that will work well on the many different uses we have for it.
To get that, we use a lot of different methods for finding artists:
We invite artists to send us samples of their work and a resume of their career
We contact artists and see if they are interested in being our festival artist
We get names from people who like a certain artist and ask us to contact them
We sometimes go directly to an artist and commission a piece of art
Our artist selection committee chooses artists by inviting them to do a presentation showcasing their ideas and what they have in mind for the festival art. At the end of the presentations, the committee chooses—sometimes one, sometimes two. The festival then contracts with the artist to produce an image (the festival gets all rights to the image and the original piece of art). The image is used to create a poster and also modified to fit various merchandise, from coffee mugs to t-shirts.
And you, our fans, get to enjoy these creations when you buy a piece of our official merchandise as you come and visit the tulips.