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Live event artists turn tented events into works of art

Trend Watch | October 1, 2009 | By:

Entertainment with a twist.

What do you get when you combine live entertainment with a keepsake of an event that clients can treasure forever? Live event art. Event planners are using live event artists to “wow” their upscale clients and turn events into unique experiences for hosts and guests alike.

Laura Swytak is a live event artist currently working in the Seattle area. When working an event, guests gather around to watch as she captures the engagement’s essence in an oil-on-canvas painting of the event in progress. “Every space is unique,” she says. “I just go with my intuition as to what might make the most interesting painting. Although sometimes people have specific vantage points or moments they want captured, which affect my choices.”

Anne Berman, special event and wedding consultant in Baltimore, Md., has used Swytak’s services on several occasions, before Swytak moved out of the area. “It’s one of those luxury items for the higher-end client,” Berman says. Weddings are probably the most common type of event that use event artists, but backyard parties and fundraising events often employ live event artists as well.

Swytak charges $2,200 for the full package price, which includes pre-event consultation to discuss the schedule for the event, where the best place might be for her to set up, as well as any ideas the client might have for the painting. The day of the event, she arrives two hours before the guests to begin painting the architectural space—what will be above the head level of the guests. “In this way, when the guests begin to arrive, I can focus on them and how they relate to the space,” Swytak says. She is able to complete most of the painting during the event and puts on the finishing touches as post-event work, which takes about two weeks.

Swytak typically needs about a four-foot by four-foot area in which to work, with space behind her to allow guests to watch as she paints, should they desire. The event planner should coordinate with the servers to make sure the artist is positioned outside of the event flow traffic.

“Clients love [live event art],” Berman says. “And even though it’s expensive, I definitely think it’s of value. You get to see talent in action and after the event the client gets to walk away with a painting.”

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