Let's face it, the Art Shark's one of the coolest parts of the Columbus Arts Fest. Nothing against the art and artists, but come on: He's a shark! And he likes art! We sat down with the famous mascot ahead of this weekend's festival for a little one-on-one action.

Let's face it, the Art Shark's one of the coolest parts of the Columbus Arts Fest. Nothing against the art and artists, but come on: He's a shark! And he likes art! We sat down with the famous mascot ahead of this weekend's festival for a little one-on-one action.

Your real name is Arthur S. Hark, but Art Shark is such a fun nickname! Who was the first one to call you it?

My mom. She noticed how excited I got whenever I saw art, whether it was a picture on someone's shirt or a sculpture at the zoo. She called me her little Art Shark.

How did you decide you didn't want to stay at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium?

I didn't really decide. I loved the zoo. But, I was curious about what was beyond our aquarium, and when I discovered that I was a rare land shark I just had to go out and explore.

Describe your journey to the Columbus Arts Festival after you left the zoo.

It was full of discovery. I didn't have a destination in mind, so I was able to truly enjoy the journey. I saw so much of the city, from Urban Arts Space to the Cultural Arts Center and Columbus College of Art & Design and the Columbus Museum of Art. I also met some of the nicest people along the way. Although they were a little shocked to see me at first, so many people encouraged me to try my own fin at art and supported my new journey.

What was it like when you first found the festival?

Life is funny. I had no plan. I was just out exploring and trying to figure out where I belonged, and bam there it was. I was on my way to go paint at the Cultural Arts Center and walked right into this massive festival full of happy people, art, performers - it was all just so exciting (we sharks are attracted to activity).

What inspired your love for art? It really sets you apart from other sharks!

I've always been drawn to interesting shapes and colors, but it wasn't until I hit land that I got to try out making stuff. I really love painting. There is something so fluid and graceful about a brush gliding along a canvas.

Tell me, have you had any fun art experiences or made your own art?

Oh yes. Recently I was at the Earth Day Celebration at the Columbus Commons. There was this great big tent set up with arts activities and I got to paint for a while and take selfies with some of the kids that were there. I also went on stage with a singer who was doing The Farmer in the Dell - he was nice enough to add a shark to the song. I felt famous.

I bet you were really excited to become the spokesperson. What tasks do you have as the official mascot for the festival?

It is awesome! My job (if you can even call it that) is to walk around and make people smile.

I especially like it when the little ones give me a high five and when people take photos with me. I admit, I'm a bit of a ham, ha ha - I've been known to photo bomb unsuspecting arts fest folks. Oh and also, before the festival I get to lead the 10 and under kids lap at the Tour of Franklinton Bike Race. How cool is that?

What is your favorite part of the Columbus Arts Festival?

Oh wow. That's hard. I really like meeting people and I spend most of my time moving between the Hands-On Activities tent (between COSI and the river) and the Bicentennial Park fountain on the east side of the river. I love watching people make their own art, and it's nice to be able to cool down in the fountain. I also like to go check out Canstruction. They made a can-sculpture of me last year!

Is there anything exciting you can tell me about this year's festival?

How much time to you have? There are more stages, including one inspired by me - Sharkey's Jazz and Blues Club. There's also the Franklinton Theater Stage, the Acoustic Lounge, and of course the ABC6 Main Stage, the Ohio Magazine Word is Art Stage and the FlyColumbus.com Dance Stage.

There will also be a giant Brownie camera that I'm looking forward to seeing - I hope I fit inside it. AND my favorite new thing is the Community Art Project. I can't wait to go paint my own 6-by-8-inch tile. I hope my piece gets chosen for the street art installation.

I heard you had a recent change in your diet and became a vegan. What inspired the change?

You know, sometimes it's hard being a land-living, people-loving Art Shark. All I want to do is hang out with people and make them smile, but at first all they see is the teeth.

I already had a mostly veggie diet, so I decided to just go full vegan. This way all the people out there know that when I come up to them, all I want is a hug, not a snack. Although if they have carrots, I welcome a snack too - and hummus. I love hummus.