Archive for the ‘Letters from Readers’ Category

Looking for an Alternative Marketplace? NC Based Company Seeks Artist/Craftsman Goods

October 8, 2008

Here is a recent email I recently received:

Hello Connie,

I am a subscriber, ceramic artist and designer. My partner and I are collaborating on an Alternative Building Supply & Design Centre in Winston-Salem, NC.

With our economy in the condition that it’s in, and the struggles that many artists have, we want to provide representation for artists who are producing functional products for the home to make their locally and US produced work and talents accessible to the public on a different level and with the alternative perspective allowing consumers to see that the big box stores are not the only answer to creating a home renovation project.

We would like to provide ceramic and glass tile, wrought iron functional accessories such as bathroom accessories-towel bars, sinks, etc., handcrafted wood products using re-claimed woods, and anything recycled for wallcovering treatments and window treatments. Can you assist me in this endeavor?
Marie DuBois

What a great idea, Marie! All of us are looking for alternative venues for our work. Artists, if you are interested in this opportunity contact her at:


Letter from a Reader: Credit Card Processing Problems

July 23, 2008

Here is a letter I received last week:


I like your newsletter and enjoy reading it . I have been doing art fairs for 16 years and have recently decided to go with 1st National, the credit card company that you have on your site. It has been a very bad experience with them. I have had problems with the equipment and /or the service at every show that I have done. I just want you to know that you are promoting a very bad service and I went on your recommendation. Not that I think it is your fault…I know that they bought ad. But their service is terrible….just thought you should know. D.L.

I immediately contacted Michael DiGiovanni at 1st National Processing. I knew he would want to know about this. Here is his reply:

Wow. I find this very hard to believe. We always go above and beyond to provide superior service and support. In our industry we depend on a lot of 3rd parties to provide certain things. She may have gotten lost in customer service world. To avoid this i provide my cell phone number and email address as well as that of my vice president so if people ever feel like they hit a brick wall they have somewhere to turn.

Believe me we work very hard and spend a lot of money to get these clients if they are unhappy i want to know. These numbers are provided on a separate bold page in the front of my welcome kit. I have over 10000 clients and they all have my number and my partners. Please tell this lady to call me at 9173276012. I will look into this and try to call her tomorrow as well. Thanks for the info. Sorry.

Here is the conclusion that was reached that same day:


My office manager just got off the phone with this merchant. Turns out in the beginning she was frustrated with some basic operations of the machine. She was having trouble run cards, uploading them, and batching out the terminal. She actually inadvertently cleared out a batch from her machine which had to be keyed in.

Please keep in mind, the terminal was not malfunctioning, she was just new and this was a learning curve. FYI if it was a terminal malfunction we would have replaced it immediately. We do not play games and stand behind our equipment 100%. She became frustrated with the operations of the machine and despite multiple calls to our extremely thorough and patient tech department, and detailed verbal and written instructions she still felt uncomfortable unbeknownst to us.

She then started having battery issues because she had the false impression that her portable terminal would last the whole weekend on one charge of the battery. No terminal in the industry has that kind of battery life.

She also did not familiarize herself with the battery saver feature in the unit and the proper way to charge and discharge the battery prior to and after an event. This prolongs the life of the battery and ensures proper function. But because of her previous problems with learning how to use the unit, she did not call to address the battery problems she was experiencing. Instead she wrote to you about our horrible product and service.

Now that she has spoken to my office manager she seems to be comfortable. We, once again walked her through all of the functions of the machine while she had the instructions in front of her. She said she thoroughly understands. We also explained to her, in detail, the battery, its capabilities and proper usage. And we reiterated to her that we are absolutely her to help.

We stressed to her to call us on the weekends and/or after hours if need be until she feels comfortable. She knows that she has my cell phone number, my VP’s, my office manager and 2 of my in house tech guys. She said she understands and will call us if she needs help.

Just wanted to give you an update. Thanks for forwarding me that info so we could address it and help this merchant in distress.


Michael Di Giovanni
1st National Processing
40 Underhill Blvd Ste. 2G | Syosset, NY 11791
Tel: 516-921-9445 x11 | Fax: 516-921-9488
E: | Website:

Looking for an Artist – Where are You?

July 16, 2008

From my mailbox:

There used to be an artist named Will Allen that did serigraphs on the art fair circuit. Do you know what ever happened to him? I have not seen him in years and I loved his work.
Lawrence Ward

Can anyone help out this art lover? Add your comment below. Thank you.

Thanks for Attending Teleseminar #2-Getting Started in the Art Fair Business

June 28, 2008

Yesterday evening we held our second in a series of free teleseminars about the business of doing art fairs, How to Get Started in the Art Fair Business.

Our many thanks to all of you who sent excellent questions and attended the event. All of our phone lines were full and I thoroughly enjoyed telling my art fair stories and sharing our years of experience at the nation’s art fairs with all of you.

Some of the questions that we answered were:

  • I just feel so overwhelmed I don’t know where to start, I can’t get enough money together to get materials I need nor to register for any art shows, don’t know where to start. Lost and confused. Help me please!
  • How can I judge the quality of a show when the 2 sources I know about (Sunshine Artist and Art Fair Source Book) do not agree or don’t even mention the show?
  • How can I tell when looking at applications the difference between the GREAT shows (the ones with buyers) and the OKAY shows (the ones with lookers)?
  • My question is how do you get accepted to the juried art shows? What are they looking for?
  • How can I improve my application to get fewer rejections?
  • Do purchasing preferences vary by region? What are they?
  • and many more

We are transcribing it now for download as an e-book. Stay tuned for publication!

Here are a few of the comments we received afterwards:

  1. Hi Connie, I missed the first teleseminar, but listened to the second one that was yesterday. Thanks to your website I am very busy this summer beginning tomorrow (Warren Co. Festival of the Arts) till August 23rd (Mason Heritage Festival). I had some concerns about booth display and yesterday’s teleseminar gave me confidence. –Konul Zwolinski
  2. Connie and Scott, I found your seminar helpful and informative. I look forward to future opportunities. i have just gotten started in this business, so I welcome all sources of experience and support. Please keep me on your e-mail list. I can anticipate using more of your services, in the future. –Enlightened Images
  3. Wanted to thank you for providing me the opportunity to join the call. Great information, and you organized the presentation of the topics very well, each flowed into the other.
    Can’t wait for the next seminar.
    You mentioned the possibility of focused calls – booth design would be most helpful. Would save a lot of trial and error. Thank you. –JR Lamartine

Research Proves: The Arts Are Good For Your Health

June 19, 2008

For thousands of years, people have searched for the meaning and beauty of life in music, painting, poetry and other arts. Now scientists are finding that the arts can benefit both your mental and physical health.

You knew this had to be true, didn’t you? Read this interesting article at:

Thanks to Chris Taylor of Columbus, OH, for sending me this link.

“How Do I Find My Niche at an Art Fair?”

May 21, 2008

I am going to be out of the country for the next couple of weeks and hoping that some of the artists in this group can answer Julie’s question below.

Birmingham, Michigan, Art Fair

Hi Connie,

After finding your niche in the art fair world, do you have any tips for getting accepted by juries. I think my work is very good, but many local art fairs are not accepting my work. I can’t travel yet–the overhead is too much for that now.

Thank you for any guidance.

As many of you know, Julie is posing a universal question that artists wrestle with throughout their careers. I know you have many good answers for her. Would you help her out by posting your good advice in the comments section below?

Reader says, “Help, I’m Looking For a Jeweler”

May 21, 2008

David Smallcombe jewelrySince I posted this question in Sunday’s newsletter I’ve gotten some good answers.

Hi Connie,

I am looking for this fabulous goldsmith, Giffen Douglas? I just came back from the Sunfest -WPB, and met another goldsmith whose work was similar, but not close he said he new of Giffen and he was at this show. anyway to contact him? I saw his work almost 3 years ago at Cocoa Beach, and could kick my self for not buying this ring. I would love to contact him & find out what show he will be at next, or contact him about making me something or seeing what he has. Please help me.
Julie Taylor

Thanks, Lisa Infantes, for this reply:

I googled the name and found this contact #

Giffen Douglas Designs, Main & Highland Ave, Stowee
Tel. 802-253-5000 Open Thurs-Fri eves., Sat afternoon, & by appt. Fine Art Jewelry Gallery

And here is another answer:

Hi Connie,

Giffen used to belong to the Vermont Handcrafters but I didn’t see him at the annual show this past november. The person looking for him might want to contact VHC and see if they have a forwarding address.

Good luck!
lisa cutler

two son jewelry

Thanks to both Lisas for this info. Julie, I hope you find Giffen!

Question from a Reader: Can I Make Money in Michigan?

April 16, 2008

Jewelry at the State Street Art FairDear Connie:

I am looking for some more recent information on the Flint Art Fair: since you are right in Michigan and not far away from there maybe you would know more. I am hoping you will be able to tell me something personally (you have all sorts of inside information, right??) without having to put it in your newsletter. If the newsletter is the best option I would appreciate it if you did not use my name…

I am from northern Illinois so it’s a 6 hour drive for me. I did the show several times (last in 2001 and 2002) and did fairly well, not spectacularly. This was before the Michigan economy went downhill. With current gas prices (hotels are up by ~ 20% too) I need to be better informed before doing this show, or opting for a very small local one.

I researched recent shows in my usual way (using Sunshine Artist and AFSB). The show was held off-site for a few years while the art center was being renovated, but I believe it’s back on site now. I could not come up with any real current information (reviews were mostly about the issues of being off-site), and posted a question on the AFSB forum with no luck there either. I ran out of research time and sent in my application. I have been accepted but have a while before the booth fee is due and now I really need to know about how sales have been there.

It’s a given that sales at all shows are down, across the board, not just in Michigan. I had 6 shows in Michigan last year and the repeats (3) were down from 10% to 34%. Weather was good both years, actually better the second year, so that was not a factor. The new ones obviously I have no personal record to use for predictions. So it’s not a question so much of WILL sales be down, just how MUCH down. The 34 % percent drop in _____ _____, for example (on top of a 20% decine from the year before), means it is no longer worth the 6+ hour drive (please do not publicize that – keep it private: as I don’t want to hurt what is really a very nice show, run by very kind people. If I were local I would certainly do it again. )….

I appreciate your help.

Name withheld

I have held off on answering this question for some time trying to come up with a good answer for you. Michigan has been hard hit. That is hardly news. You are wise to seek more information. My take on it: the people who are succeeding financially at the shows are those who have something so wonderful, or so fabulously priced that people cannot resist it. This marketplace is more competitive than ever. Cutting costs, in order to bolster your profit, is smart.

Traveling six hours to a show that has been marginal for you would not be a good idea, better to put that time and money into something that is not so much a gamble. I know your work. There are many marketplaces where I think you would do well, or at least increase the odds of doing better than making this trip.

I do not have personal information on this show. Maybe some of my readers do. Can anyone address the questions entered here? Please comment below.

Three Zapplication Stories to Bring You Cheer

April 14, 2008

Here is my most recent information about Zapplication and applying to art fairs.Cukier & Stephen Fellerman enjoying a great day at Arts, Beats & Eats

1. Contrary to the accepted opinion all art fairs are not being deluged with piles of new applications because they have joined Zapp. An art fair that I am close to who instigated it last year had exactly two additional applications that year. Recently closing their 2008 jurying they had exactly one additional application.

What this says to me is that in general the BIG shows are receiving nice BIG piles, maybe even more because of Zapp, but the B list group is not profiting from more apps. But their staffs are happy about not having so much paperwork.

2. Here is a recent letter from a reader:

Hi Connie,

It’s nice to find online discussions such as these.  Have you seen this one?

It’s long but there are some heavy hitters in the craft world commenting on it.  I never even thought researching what other artists thought of Zapp until I got a few blog comments on my opinion of it.  Fortunately, I did get into the Lowertown Festival which would have been really disappointing if I had not since it is really not that great of a show quality wise!  I can’t wait to see if that will change since their application process was through Zapp.

I perused quite a bit of your blog, and I am adding it to my google reader.  I’m so glad I found it!


3.  Readers of this blog have perhaps before seen the heartfelt letters we receive from artists, but none more so than the straightforward posts received from artist Michael Solomon. Here is his latest:

hi – i have gone to war with the insane odds of getting into shows- what follows is my email to st louis art fair and there response which are both honorable and insane Zapp has destroyed allot of us and the odds keep getting worse – i am finding other ways to market my work and really do not care if they hate me.
Michael S.

To: Laura Miller
Subject: Re: 2008 Saint Louis Art Fair

the end is near – Me and allot of others will no longer support this antiquated process – a raffle would be fairer for 95 % of the applicants the elite 5 % might as well be pre selected for all the shows.
Michael Solomon
former artist

To: Michael Solomon
Subject: Re: 2008 Saint Louis Art Fair

Michael – Thank you for your email and we welcome your questions and comments. This year represents the most competitive application process we’ve ever experienced, with 1784 artists applying for 139 openings (26 award winners from the 2007 show were exempt from the jury process and will return in 2008.) Reviewing these applications is a daunting task that we take very seriously.

Every application is carefully reviewed several times by our panel of three independent jurors over the course of three days. We rely on their expertise and experience to select the highest quality work presented to them during the jury process. We select jurors that provide a diverse background of knowledge, skill, understanding and familiarity within the 14 media categories allowed. Our goal is a high-quality, balanced show, however we do not have individual quota’s in each media category. We also do not provide artists with scores or comments from the jurors, nor do we track the juror’s comments.

Again thank you for applying to the Saint Louis Art Fair. You have our best wishes for continued success!
Laura Miller

To view Michael’s art visit:

Put Zapp into the search box on the right side of this page and you can read comments the Art Fair Insider has received on this topic. We welcome your comments on this topic or any other of interest to you. Fill in the form below.

Now Get My Updates by Email! Free!

April 4, 2008

We’ve just upgraded our services, so now you can get my Art Fair Insider blog updates by email!


Just click here to sign up – you’ll get future blog entries delivered directly to your email inbox.

Now it’s even easier to keep up with all the latest from the art fair and craft show community!