WHAT’S A JAM?! – By Jane Harding
*Hands up… this blog was meant to be out in February… but you know what it’s like, Life Happens! So, apologies to anyone that’s been waiting for this, but it’s here now :) It’s quite a long one, so go grab a coffee and biscuit!
I thought it would be helpful to some people if I wrote this blog about JAMs, because there has been a fair few happening recently, and so inevitably they’ll be a fair few people out there that haven’t a clue what one is or have just never been to one. At least I certainly had never heard of them when I first started face painting and once I did know what one was, I was way too nervous to actually go to one!
But I’m in my 3rd year of face painting now; I’ve made lots of painty friends through social networking and meeting up with other painters local to me, so I finally gathered the courage to go to one! Honestly, I don’t know why I felt nervous about going (it was all in my head!) as I will hopefully prove to you.
I HEAR YOU SAYING “OK…BUT WHAT IS A JAM?!”
Well, I would personally describe one as an organised get together of like-minded people (Face Painters, Body Artists, Balloon Modellers etc.) They are informal and relaxed occasions where there is no expectation on anyone who attends to ‘perform’ in anyway, but they do provide an invaluable opportunity to ask questions, learn, share, network, shop and have fun.
I attended the Midlands JAM back in February, next year will be its 7th year running, and from my point of view (a JAM Virgin!) it appeared very well organised and very well attended... I’m not very good estimating numbers of people in a room, but I’d say 100-150? (Paula, please correct me if I am wrong) I had a brilliant time and am really looking forward to going next year. I’ll go into more detail in a minute about everything that happened on the day, but firstly, I just wanted to recommend, that if you are planning on attending a JAM, then you should definitely find the Facebook group/event for it first. Because if they are anything like the Midlands JAM, you will find all the information you could possibly wish for on there. Information Inc. Tickets, food, directions, where to park, raffles, activities, what to expect when you arrive, what to do when you arrive and lots more. I really can’t praise the organisers of the Midlands JAM enough; I found them so helpful, friendly and informative.
In case you were wondering, most JAM’s are advertised in the various Face Painting Facebook groups, that’s certainly how I have found out about them, so keep your eye out or just ask, I’m sure someone will give you details of one close to you.
WHO CAN YOU GO WITH?
I purchased my ticket ahead of time, although tickets were also available on the door. The ticket price was £4… yep you heard that right… £4! Please remember that number as I go over everything that was provided on the day. You could also book in for the Sunday Roast that was on offer, but if you’re a fussy eater like me, then you can also take a packed lunch. As I said earlier I have made lots of painty friends over the past 2 years, most of them being local to me, so I obviously asked around to see who fancied coming with me, in the end it just ended up being 2 of us, but this still meant we didn’t have to walk in alone and we shared fuel costs… Brucie Bonus! If you don’t already have local painty friends, reach out and get some… its great… you can talk about painting to your hearts content and no one falls asleep! :-b Having said all that, if you don’t have any fellow artists to attend with, then you are always welcome to take a friend or family member with you if you would like. Of course if you prefer to go on your own then you won’t be on your own for long, just find some smiley people or someone else on their own and take a seat with them, I’m sure they will love to have a chat and find out all about you. Many people took their children to the Midlands JAM, there was a supervised crèche area for them to play in and many older children got involved in the art… it was really lovely to see.
Just to give you an idea of what the JAM looked like, it took place in a large hall that was kind of divided into areas. For example, there was the welcoming area, the crèche, the retailers, a large area in the middle where the demos took place, the stage where the full body paint demo happened throughout the whole day and pretty much everywhere else was covered with everyone’s face paint kits! The balloon modellers also created a small area for their demos as they created some amazing balloons for the children, there was one huge/incredible wearable unicorn, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a very good picture of it.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE MY KIT?
The simple answer is ‘No’; there is no pressure to take your kit. From what I could tell it appeared as though the majority of people did take their kit, but there were certainly plenty of people that didn’t. If you are particularly new to face painting, this is a great opportunity to wander around to look at all the different types of kits and see which you think you would get on best with. Everyone is and was very friendly, more than happy for you to look and ask questions about what they have. I took my kit, so when we arrived we found a little spot to set up as if ready to paint (although I spent so much time chatting I didn’t actually do any painting! Lol) we then made a beeline for the retailers!!!
Oh yes… you can shop at JAM’s! Different retailers attend different JAMs, but basically you will always have an opportunity to shop. The best thing about this I think, is the opportunity to have a look at all the products in real life. As hard as retailers try to provide the best possible photos of products with the best lighting to show you things in their truest colour etc. there is nothing quite like looking at something with your own eyes. I also prefer brush shopping in person, as it’s hard to know what a number 8 in a specific brand will be like, until you actually see it. The best thing of all about shopping at JAMs is the JAM DEALS! I am sure every retailer is different, but there were certainly some fab deals at the Midlands JAM, for example; one retailer gave you a range of free gifts depending on how much spent and we all love a free gift!
SO WHAT ELSE HAPPENS?
At the Midlands JAM, there was a time table of demonstrations that took place in the middle of the hall throughout the day. Several very experienced and talented Face Painters provided themed demonstrations; for example; how to paint unicorns, butterflies, eye designs, the HULK etc. This was great, because if you knew you wanted to improve your Unicorns for example, then you could make sure you were there for that one in particular, watch and ask any questions about what you find difficult and get some great tips and tricks. Like I said it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere where everyone was so willing to help and generally have fun.
Then of course there is the raffle… I’m sure these work slightly differently at all JAMs, but whether you are given raffle tickets as part of your entry or if you can buy them at the event, then either way, raffle tickets are available and from what I have seen at the Midlands JAM and what people have won at other JAMs, they tend to have LOTS of awesome painty goodies, so DEFINETLY make sure you get your raffle tickets!
As I wandered around the room there was so much going on, people painting each other, amazing balloon art being created, Facebook ‘friends’ meeting in person for the first time, so many demos and so much laughter, it really was a lovely experience.
Everyone was so open to share with each other and so friendly that my initial nerves about attending were soon squashed. I really can’t recommend highly enough for any face/body painter or balloon artist to attend a JAM at some point and at this point I just want to remind you, that ALL of that was provided for just £4 a ticket! How amazing is that?!
I thought I’d just mention something BRAND NEW that The Face Painting Shop is starting VERY SOON… if you haven’t already heard, Nathalie and the team are going to be hosting monthly Coffee Morning/ Mini Jams in their ‘Eleven 16 Studio’ (that’s above The Face painting Shop if you didn’t know). I am so excited to say I will be attending the very first one which is on Tuesday 9th April, it’s FREE, but tickets are limited to 25, so grab one before they’re gone and I hope to meet you there! You can get your ticket here.
I hope you found that informative, it has given you a better understanding of what a JAM is and it helped to brush off any worries you may have had about attending one soon.
And last but not least, ‘THANK YOU’ to the folks at The Midlands JAM for allowing me to wander around taking pictures and to the individuals featured in my pics for letting me use them :-)
Until next time, thanks for reading!
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