Qualifying for Milwaukee’s Lakefront Art Festival


Rawson-JohnsonHi Connie,

I hope this is within the realm of questions for you. I was wondering if I could get into the Milwaukee Lakefront Festival of the Arts with my jewelry. It’s not gold or silver but I do hand wrap vintage Czech glass stones with turn-of-the-century pattern filigree using my own two hands without any glue or pins.

I feel it’s a fine art form and worthy of being in these kind of shows that only except “fine” jewelry. Do you know if I would be wasting my money and time (I have three little children and limited time and money) trying to get into that show (I can’t find out if they take non-“fine” jewelry there) or other shows that only allow fine jewelry.

Here is my website if you can take a moment to click on it and look under the category of Vintage Trace Ellements (this is the jewelry I’m referring to).

I thank you so much for helping me out with this topic and feel free to share it on your newsletter,

Tracy Ellison
Trace Ellements Jewelry & Gifts

Hi Trace,

Thanks for asking this question that I believe could be asked by many other jewelers in this business.

The Lakefront Festival of the Arts receives around 1300 applications for 170 spaces. Most art fairs receive more applications in jewelry than any other media. So it is easy to estimate that Lakefront must receive at least 200 jewelry applications, probably closer to 300, at a minimum. In 2007 15 jewelers were selected to participate.

This is information you can take into account before we even think about your jewelry. Most art fairs with this kind of competition are choosing jewelry that is almost completely hand fabricated, start to finish, with each piece having a one of a kind look.

To get an even better idea of what it takes to be part of a fair of this caliber visit the Lakefront website and look at the work that was accepted in last year’s show. There is a slide of each artist’s work.

While you are browsing, visit the websites of other well known art fairs and look at the jewelry that has been accepted. A really good site to look at is the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show because it shows an entire set of jury images for accepted artists.

All of that intimidating information to the contrary, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You live nearby. What do you have to lose by applying? Only a jury fee of $25-$35 and maybe you will be accepted. No one gets into all the shows they apply for. There is a lot of rejection, but there must be a good reason why many continue to apply. Could it be the promise of a good payday? I think so.

Best of luck, Tracy. I look forward to seeing you at an art fair soon.


2 Responses to “Qualifying for Milwaukee’s Lakefront Art Festival”

  1. Annette Paskiewicz Says:

    That was a great answer Connie. You are very correct in pointing out what kind of work is accepted into this caliber of show. As long as a jewelery artist is not fabricating every element and using commercial parts, no matter how “beautiful”, these jewelers will never get accepted. My advice to Tracy is SAVE YOUR MONEY. Forget about applying to an event that will see your crystals and NEVER let you in. Be aware of what shows you are applying to! I myself have been applying to Lakefront for years and have been rejected. Then, when I talk to the artists who are accepted, they are not so thrilled with sales at this event. It’s just okay…. so there’s another lesson learned…what we think may be a big payday because the show is so beautiful and there’s a lot of people attending does not mean people are buying. After a $700 plus booth fee and all expenses incurred, paydays are few and far between since the 90’s. As far as a jewelry artist like Tracy? My advice is to sink your funds into wholesaling… do the gift shows, that’s where the bucks are.

  2. Robert Putnam Says:

    Hello. Could you sent me informatioin on how to apply for the 2009 Lakefront Art Fair? Thanks. Robert Putnam

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