Fringe Artistry by Gavin Worth

“Self Portrait” by Gavin Worth

I’ve received a lot of questions about the source of our graphic design imagery – particularly, the name of the artist who created our mascots the fringe freaks.

The answer is Gavin Worth, our resident graphic magician. You may have seen some of his work gracing the walls of December’s ARTBASH.

Interesting story about the Freaks. About a year and a half ago, we were playing around with different brand aesthetics for the Hollywood Fringe. (read more) We had an idea of what we wanted: Something in the form of street-based graffiti art with a Hollywood-edge. You can actually check out our flickr gallery to see some ideas we were exploring at the time.

In a random moment of inspiration, Gavin produced this image . Funny how many great things begin as a disparaging joke about someone’s mother (for the record, Ken’s mom is a beautiful and intelligent woman and not at all freak-like).

Something about those freaky little figures clicked…so we ran with it. As a potential brochure design, Gavin put together this image – a chalk drawing on a sidewalk near his house. We’ve since featured the freaks on our business cards, website, and post cards.

We are currently in the process of creating life-sized freak costumes (lots of chicken wire, paper mache, paint, and spandex). You just may see them wondering the streets of Hollywood in the very near future.

Check out more of Gavin’s work at

A Fringe Model

One of the most challenging tasks facing new fringe festivals is determining how the festival’s participants are selected.

In the spirit of the original Fringe, most Fringe Festivals opt for an “open” or “unjuried” approach to artist selection. This method excludes the central Fringe organization from picking which applicants are accepted.

Some Fringes opt for a “lottery” system: Participants are chosen at random from an annual pool of applicants. Others operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis: When all festival venues are taken, applicants find their own venue. Still others – Edinburgh most notably – take a very hands-off approach to the whole thing: If you can find a venue, you are in the festival.

We adopted a hybrid of the many techniques employed worldwide and added a few of our own innovations.


This Summer, applications will open for the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Applicants will:

  • Create a fringe website account with details on themselves and (if applicable) their organization
  • Pay a (very small) application fee to create a publicly-viewable project on the fringe website.
  • Add videos, text, tags, images and more to articulate the vision of the project
  • Solicit community support for the project – this will help it’s visibility
  • Engage with venues to find a home for the project
  • Continue to use the fringe site to promote the show and sell tickets

We will post a list of “secured venues” that have signed-up to participate in the festival. These theatres, clubs, and galleries select artistic projects from the pool of applicants on the website – some venues might specialize in a certain genre of programming such as comedy or new plays.

For those performers not chosen by a secured venue – no problem. You just need to find your own venue (we will help).

Our goal is to lower the bar for artists seeking a space to present their work. We hope this will lead to a vast, deep, and rich experience for our participants and our audience.

Fringe Festival should represent a snapshot of emerging art – the model we are developing is built to support that.

Defining "Fringe Festival"

What makes a festival a “fringe” festival?

To-date, our collective (not always perfect) wisdom defines a “Fringe Festival” as a massive, unjuried, multi-disciplinary arts festival featuring local, national, and international talent.

The Hollywood Fringe Festival has no central selection committee (“jury”), promotes and supports touring and out-of-town artists, and is designed to be very multi-disciplinary in scope: music, dance, theatre, circus, performance art, comedy, variety/burlesque, visual art, (potentially) film, and street performance.

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) created guidelines for fringe eligibility in Canada and trademarked the words “Fringe” and “Fringe Festival”. To mount any Canadian festival with “fringe” in its name, you must first become a member. All member fringes are obliged to operate their festivals in compliance with the CAFF mandate and guiding principles.

American fringes are more liberal with the definition. The American equivalent to the CAFF – the US Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF) states:

There are no rules or regulations for how the individual festivals operate. The festivals’ content, finances and structure vary from city to city. Generally, however, all the festivals are committed to an open forum of expression that minimizes the financial risks for both artists and audiences. Fringes strive to keep application fees and ticket prices low so that more people can participate in our festivals.

Much like defining “art”, strictly defining “fringe” crushes its spirit and intent. Fringes vary by the content and character of their host city – as they should.

Why Los Angeles Needs a Fringe Festival...

It’s a simple question. There are plenty of arts festivals in Los Angeles: Theatre, Dance, Film, Music – some of them great. Why do we need a Fringe Festival, then?

Here’s why…

cultural distinction

The quality of a city’s culture is deeply connected to the richness and diversity of its arts scene. This not only applies to the mainstays of the arts culture (the opera houses, dance and music halls, and major regional theatres that comprise its matured foundation) – it applies to tomorrow’s art: The artists and works of art that define the emerging generation. The Fringe is a celebration of the next generation. By providing easy access to performance spaces in a highly promoted and publicized event, new work can be seen, appreciated, and absorbed into the local culture.

Historically, Fringe Festivals have been very good at pioneering new forms of artistic expression. By introducing a curiosity and appreciation for emerging arts in our community’s values, we further expand our city’s role as a bellwether of art and entertainment for the country and the world.

economic salvation

In times of economic turmoil, the arts are first on the chopping block. To protect against crisis, the multiple disciplines that comprise the arts scene need band together to stave off hard times. This is a goal of Fringe Festivals: To provide a forum through which arts organizations can promote themselves and the importance of their existence.

Fringe Festival are also very good for the neighborhoods in which they are hosted: Bringing a new breed of cultural tourism into the community. Shops, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other local vendors benefit from the exposure of a centralized arts presence in their midst.

because we don’t have one!

From an national and international perspective in the Fringe-going community, it has been a mystery why a town such as Los Angeles – priding itself as the capital of entertainment – lacks its own Fringe Festival. Towns as big as San Francisco and New York and as small as Boulder and Woodstock have adopted a Fringe Festival as a part of their culture. Most have become mainstays of their Summer entertainment and major economic boons for regional business. Hosting a Fringe Festival here would attract national and international attention to the hidden gems of this city – namely those arts organizations not directly affiliated with “the industry”.

It is part of our goal at Hollywood Fringe to celebrate Los Angeles as a town of artists – not just a town of celluloid.

January Update

For those of you not on the mailing list (why would you not be?), check out our January Fringe Update.

No huge surprises for regular readers, nonetheless an amusing run-down of fringe-land.

And while you’re at it, sign up for the newsletter


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Advertising with the Hollywood Fringe Festival is an excellent way to promote your project, organization, brand, or cause. Buy an advertisement now on our website or printed guide.Advertising with the Hollywood Fringe Festival is an excellent way to promote your project, organization, brand, or cause. Buy an advertisement now on our website or printed guide.