Posts Tagged ‘art fairs’

All Good Things Come From Art Fairs – Part I

October 28, 2008

Enjoy reading these musings courtesy of artist, Mona Majorowicz. Her blog is entitled: “Fur in the Paint, Art, Animals and the Creative Experience.” Be sure to read the entire post, as it is full of good analysis and information.

Okay, so after an entire summer of me talking about being rained out, stormed on and losing big $$$ at Omaha Summer Arts Festival, as well as saying repeatedly that the older I get the less I like all the hauling and toting, some of you may be thinking how can I say “all good things come from art fairs.” Well because in regards to my business, it’s true.

I want to be clear that I am not promoting doing art fairs as the best way to grow your art business, (though it is certainly a viable one.) In fact, in my recent post “In this Economy” I described why making a living doing the circuit is getting harder all the time.

“art fairs for me was a way to make some money without really having to know what I was doing.”

On the other hand, when I started out I knew nothing of promoting my art. I had worked in the art business at a museum and gallery. But running a major frame shop is completely different than becoming a successful artist. In fact my lack of knowledge is exactly why I chose the art fair path. My degree is in Veterinary Technology, and I have no training in the arts. Back then I had no solo gallery exhibits to my credit, no awards, no portfolio of quality work and no idea of how to talk with galleries.

Art fairs for me was a way to make some money without really having to know what I was doing. I mean if someone liked my work, they bought it. It can’t get much easier than that right? Of course the truth is you still need knowledge on how to sell your work, especially in these times of uncertainty. But doing art fairs allowed me to gain the knowledge I needed through experience.

” . . . doing art fairs allowed me to gain the knowledge I needed through experience.”

I started out in small events, made some sales, gained some confidence and moved to bigger events. That is still my path. I continue to keep challenging myself with bigger venues. The truth is, in large part it was participating in art fairs that gave me the confidence to deal with galleries and clients. Art fairs provided me with the opportunity to earn an income while in my spare time I learned the art business and more importantly continued to create better art.

So here is a brief overview of the ways in which my business has progressed because of my participation in art fairs over the years. I will go into more detail on these in tomorrows post.

  • Exhibition Opportunities
  • Awards
  • Columnist for Apples ‘N Oats magazine
  • Patrons, Collectors and Mailing Lists
  • New Markets and Wholesale Accounts
  • Thanks,  Mona, for sharing your point of view.

    Readers, I’d love to hear from you also about your art fair experiences.

    Advertisements Newsletter Reaches 10,000 Subscribers

    October 15, 2008

    Yesterday was certainly a day for good news. Over 9000 for the Dow and which reached a milestone today–10,000 subscribers to its’ newsletter! Thank you!

    You have been a wonderful audience and I truly appreciate the great letters, good questions, compliments, suggestions and sometimes crabby (but always helpful) emails.

    I’m so grateful that the rise of the Internet has allowed me to take my years of experience at art fairs (since l979) and turn them into a venue that allows me to share my expertise with the art fair community and stay in touch with all all of my friends.

    Bringing patrons to art fairs to meet my old friends and exposing new artists to this business has been a great pleasure. Thanks to each and everyone of you!

    On the Streets in Ann Arbor

    On the Streets in Ann Arbor

    The Honor Roll

    I could not have brought you all the art fair news without the following generous people:

    Scott Fox, author of Internet Riches
    Michael DiGiovanni,
    Corinne Hazzard, Tori Kobriger, Ann Fruland of Beckman’s Living & Giving
    Debbie Netter, D & W Events
    Lorena Hatfield, K & K Insurance


    Elizabeth Kubie,*
    Susan Calkins, Kay Goodall, Art Rapids! Elk Rapids, MI*
    Barbara Willerman, Skokie Art Fair, Skokie, IL*
    Tom Marben, Alpenstrasse, Gaylord, MI
    Roslyn Long, Elmhurst Art Fair, Elmhurst, IL*
    Barbara & Nancy Huff, Easton Art Fair & Art Affaire at the Greene, Columbus, OH*
    Mary Meike, Art in the Park, Oak Park, IL*
    Carolyn Saxton, Lakefront Art Festival, Michigan City, IN*
    Bonnie Blandford, Garage Sale Art Fair, Kalamazoo, MI*
    Lisa Hooper, Wyandotte Street Fair, Wyandotte, MI*
    Becky Hoag, Art in Your Eye, Batavia, IL

    Artist Jody McLeane discusses her work

    Artist Jody McLeane discusses her work

    Donna Beaubien,FineArt at the Village, Rochester Hills, MI & Greektown Art Fair, Detroit, MI*
    Carrie Zarotney, Art in the Park, Birmingham, MI
    Joann Wilkie, St. Clair Art Fair, St. Clair, MI*
    Cecelia Green, Arts in Bartlett, Bartlett, IL
    Kitty Zurko, Wooster Arts Jazz Fest, Wooster, OH
    Richard Rothbard, American Art Marketing, Slate Hill, NY
    Kristen Beaulieu, Wilmette Fine Arts Festival, Wilmette, IL*
    Raychel Rork, Art in the Park, Plymouth, MI
    M. Sponseller, Downtown Sidewalk Sale, Mt. Pleasant, MI

    Julie & Tracy Tepp, Atlanta Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA *
    Larry Stone, Warren County Fest. of the Arts, Lebanon, OH*
    Gloria Moschel, Wilmette Arts Fair, Wilmette, IL
    Ron Vliem, National Baby Food Festival, Fremont, MI
    K. Bennewitz, Westport Creative Arts Fest., Westport, CT*
    Nancy Twigg, Frederick Festival of the Arts, Frederick, MD*
    M. Williams & Dana Pry, Bethesda Row Arts Fest., Bethesda, MD*
    Carol Cassidy-Fayer, Midwest Fiber Fair, Crystal Lake, IL
    Laura Thiel, Downtown Fine Art Fair, Mokena, IL
    N. Coumoundouros, Art on the Grand, Farmington, MI*

    Rick Bryant, Central PA Fest. of the Arts, State College, PA*
    Christine Neal, Marco Island Fine Art Fest., Marco Island, FL
    Emily Cable, Upper Arlington Art Fair, Upper Arlington OH*
    Greg Weichert, Cape Coral Art Festival, Cape Coral, FL
    Sue Pfeiffer, St. Nick’s Warehouse, Utica, MI*
    Tom & Jacki Crimboli, Warren’s Birthday Bash, Warren, MI
    Aida Sarvan, The Artist Project, Chicago, IL & One of a Kind Wholesale Show, New York City
    Maralee Rosamund, Art in the Park, Lathrup Village, MI *
    Daniel Strickland, Strickland
    Karla Prickett, Smoky Hill River Festival, Salina, KS
    Dennis Gorg, CWE Art & Taste Fair, St. Louis, MO

    Shary Brown, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor, MI
    Susan DiMarco, Art in the Park, Montclair, NJ
    Howard & Janet Rose, Rose Squared Productions, NJ*
    Amy Amdur, Amdur Productions, Chicago, IL
    D. Downing, Canal Fulton Historical Fair, Canal Fulton, OH
    Pam Reinhardt, Shelby Township Art Fair, Shelby Twp., MI
    Corinn Van Wyck, East Lansing Art Festival, East Lansing, MI
    Melanie Atkinson, ArtExpo byDesign, Gatlinburg, TN
    Judy Mills, Ohio Mart, Akron, OH*
    Jennifer Callans, Stars & Stripes Festival, Mt. Clemens, MI*
    Robert Cohn, Branson Festival of Arts, Branson, MO
    Michelle Weber, 57th Street Art Fair, Chicago, IL
    Lori Phillips, PCMB Fall Arts Ensemble, Canton, MI*
    Maggie Strong, Midsummer Arts Faire, Quincy, IL

    J. Wysong, Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Fest., Nappanee, IN
    Christa, Wheaton Fine Art Fair, Wheaton, IL
    Marty Anderson, Kenosha Museums Art Fest., Kenosha, WI
    Patty Vlazny, Village of Orland Park Art Fair, Orland Park, IL
    Diana Mark, S. Miami Rotary Art Festival, S. Miami, FL
    Joanne Bartley, Frankfort Art Festival, Frankfort, MI
    Liz Rundorff, Artisphere, Greenville, SC
    Nancy Meiling, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Art Fair, IL
    Amy Eaton, Des Moines Arts Festival, Des Moines, IA
    Susan Hammer, Cornucopia, Evanston, IL
    J. & M. DuBois, Alternative Bldg. Supply, Winston-Salem, NC
    Sara Collins, Stone Arch Festival, Minneapolis, MN
    John Szostek, Custer’s Last Stand, Evanston, IL
    Carly Barth, Omaha Summer Arts Festival, Omaha, NE

    AND, many many thanks to all of my subscribers, especially those like Ed Seidman of Chicago who keep me up to date on changes in art fair schedules and let me know about their latest art fair finds.

    I sit here everyday with my loyal companion, my Mac, and talk to you. It is great to get feedback. Thank you.

    And, of course, can you do me a favor? If you find this website and newsletter and blog helpful or interesting would you please forward it to a friend?

    See you at the art fair!

    *repeat advertiser

    Planning Ahead for the Labor Day Weekend: Aug. 29-Sept. 1

    August 25, 2008

    Ann Arbor Street Art FairThree Great Art Fairs to Consider

    Do you ever travel to attend art fairs? What are you doing on Labor Day Weekend?

    Here are three festivals well worth attending, all held on August 29-September 1.

    • Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA
    • Long’s Park Art Festival, Lancaster, PA
    • Arts, Beats & Eats, Pontiac, MI

    Sausalito is held on the shores of San Francisco Bay and attracts artists from throughout the country, but you are likely to see art from Western artists who don’t make it to the Midwest, and a real treat they are.
    For more info:

    Long’s Park is held in a lovely park outside of Lancaster, PA, and is just about the best art fair in the East. Like Sausalito, you are likely to find artists who do not make it to the Midwest.
    For more info:

    For a great weekend in the Midwest then head to Pontiac for Arts, Beats & Eats with its great lineup of art, food and entertainment. In addition in downtown Detroit is hosting the International Jazz Festival on the riverfront, as well as the Grand Prix on Belle Isle. They are calling this celebration “Three Days in the D.”
    Info on Arts, Beats & Eats:
    & more info on Three Days in the D:

    Looking for more art fairs around the country?

    Letter to Art Fair Directors: Send Me Your 2009 Dates!

    August 22, 2008

    Please let me hear from you. I need your 2009 dates!

    Carrying home the goods at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

    Did you know that is the only site on the Internet whose mission is to bring patrons to art fairs around the country? We have great google rankings (#3 under “art fairs”) and #1 in many individual state rankings.

    Do not miss another customer for your event send me your 2009 dates today. Email me at:

    What and can do for you:

    Listings on the website are free to all art fairs. However, don’t you want more?

    1. For only $35 you can have a live link to your website added to your listing. This link is not only on the website but also in the monthly newsletters that go out to my 10,000 art fair lover subscribers, bringing you much bang for very little buck!

    Special offer: Sign up for the link by August 23 and the link will be good until 12/31/09, a $50 value.

    2. Publicity for Your Art Fair on

    Selling Jewelry at the Upper Arlington Art Fair in Ohio is the premier resource for art fair lovers to find art fairs around the country. There is a lot of “art fair tourism,” people who build their vacations around visiting art fairs.

    I get inquiries daily from people looking for an art fair in March in Arizona, or the best Michigan art fair to visit, e.g. Make your event stand out in the calendar listings by not only having a live link, but a story about your event to attract the public.

    A story goes on the website, then it will also be repeated on the newsletters. A simple expanded listing with a descriptive sentence is only $50 including the live link. Other options are expanded stories, event of the month for your state and sponsorship of a regional newsletter. Prices are all under $200 for a year. Please inquire.

    My Google stats are impressive, bringing not only locals to your event but also a nationwide audience. PR firms find me and make inquiries also.

    3. Ads on Our Website and Our Newsletter

    There are several choices:

    1. Place an ad for your event in the sidebar of the website where everyone can see it. Prices start at $50 a month.

    2. Sponsor the newsletter, either one for your region only ($75 for a month), or all newsletters for a month: $200. In the last three months they reached over 80,000 people.

    Please inquire about other options that suit your event.

    4. Find New Artists for Your Fair with

    Printmaker Mary Mark & David Johnson

    Your choices:

    • $45 – a link to your website and application on the call for entries page
    • $165-$190 – a call for entries story in the newsletter, ($165 for once, $190 to do it twice-the second time when it is near your deadlineM

    The $165-$190 choice includes:

    • the $45 linkT
    • the newsletter story reaching artist subscribers
    • publishing the story in the, our blogy
    • a live link to your website on the calendar and in all newsletters

    This option easily pays for itself in additional jury fees from the new applicants. Pretty much a win-win situation, right?

    I am here to discuss with you any options that will enable you to use the Internet to reach both your customers and the artists. Email me at:, or call to discuss your needs: 517-278-7515.

    Connie Mettler – the Publisher

    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:

    Midwest Art Fairs and Flooding

    June 19, 2008

    Weatherwise it has been an unusually challenging Spring for artists. Extreme heat and heavy wind and unrelenting rain. What next?

    The excellent Des Moines Art Festival is next weekend June 27-29 and there was much talk among artists about whether or not it would be cancelled. The latest news is that their fair site is high and dry and expecting you to show up next week to celebrate their “cultural sweets” in visual arts (175 fine artists), music, food and family activities.

    Other riverfront communities have also been scrambling. On June 28-29 Quincy, IL’s, Midsummer Art Faire will be ready to roll. Here is a press release from that events coordinator, Maggie Strong:

    I have had some anxious artists emailing and calling about our situation, but the faire will continue as planned. We expect a crest this Friday and sandbagging efforts should diminish early next week as the waters recede. So far most of our roads are open so patrons will definitely be able to get to us. Some are concerned that people won’t be buying art because they will be focused on the flood and its aftermath, but I am cautiously optimistic that the faire will be an excuse for people to get back to some normalcy and relax. I am writing a letter to the editor to that effect that you might appreciate. See below.

    Kinds regards,

    Letter to the Quincy Herald-Whig

    As we look forward to the 5th annual Midsummer Arts Faire June 27-29 in Quincy’s Washington Park, I invite you to consider the role our event plays in the quality of life in our community.

    Quincy has a long history of supporting the arts. We are home to America’s first Arts Council, The Quincy Society of Fine Arts and numerous other arts-related organizations. As evidenced by their support, the citizens of Quincy and the tri-states understand the important role the arts play in a vibrant community.

    Thriving economies and thriving arts programs go hand-in-hand. The arts have a significant role to play in creating the environment and quality of life employers and knowledge-based workers are looking for. The kind of grass-roots support of the arts that Quincy is known for might some day convince a company to choose to relocate to our community, or a young entrepreneur to open up shop in our downtown. There are countless organizations, events and people that contribute to the quality of life in Quincy and I’m proud to count the Midsummer Arts Faire among them.

    In the wake of our area’s tremendous flood relief efforts, it’s time to celebrate the spirit that makes our community shine. Please join us for a weekend of art and creativity and find out for yourself why life is good in Quincy.

    Maggie Strong
    Midsummer Arts Faire Coordinator

    There is a strong photo essay on the Quincy, IL, website showing the community hard at work hauling sandbags to save their city.

    Having recently returned from China where we viewed many people filling and hauling sandbags by hand it was a contrast to view these images with people hauling sandbags but trucks and forklifts also nearby to help. There essentially was no machinery in China.

    How Do I Know What or How to Buy at Art Fairs?

    June 19, 2008

    1. As we are in the heart of the great art fair season throughout the Midwest two articles have recently appeared to help guide you through your art fair buying decisions.

    “If you like something you see, buy it.” That was Tip No. 1. Last weekend, Jay Mittelstead, who is a lawyer and art collector, led an Art Buying Boot Camp with Martha Jannotta through the 57th Street Art Fair in Chicago. With art fair season in bloom, their tips apply to nearly any fair you happen across.

    Read the rest of his tips here:

    2. The Dos and Don’ts of Buying at Art Fairs

    Also, what a pleasure for me to find this blog posting by an old art fair friend (former painter now furniture maker) Alan Carter. Alan, with his 20+ years of exhibiting at fairs around the country has excellent advice:

    Now that the art fair season is in full bloom, it’s time to talk about how to get the most out of them. I speak from some experience. For more than 20 years I exhibited my paintings at art fairs around the country. Oh, the stories I could tell.

    Read Alan’s article here, Art Fair Dos and Don’ts.

    Art Fair Feedback – Part 1

    September 25, 2007

    Goral's jewelry
    There are not many places for artists and art event organizers to go to air their grievances with one another. This is the first post in a series that will serve this purpose.

    Carmel Art Fair – held in a lovely area of Indianapolis, did the unthinkable this year by adding an additional 86 artists! Art show organizers, what were you thinking? An art fair cannot continue to be a cash cow for you if your way of adding to your revenue stream is to add artists booths.

    This only dilutes the sales for the good artists who have been loyal to your show and the quality will go down. It is like shooting yourself in the foot, a very self destructive plan. Did you also add to the number of patrons in order to insure the success of the additional artists?

    There are other ways to increase the revenue necessary to meet your fiscal needs: finding good sponsors, designing a t-shirt for sale that is irresistible, charging a small gate fee, applying for grants, etc.

    Usually artists will prefer higher booth fees than adding additional artists. Do not increase the size of your event unless you are certain that sales for existing artists will not be hampered by the increase.

    “100 Square Feet” – by Patricia Hecker

    September 22, 2007

    We criss cross the country
    in our vans of white-
    to sell what we’ve made
    at an art fair site.

    This is the life
    we’ve chosen by trade-
    to sell to the public
    things we’ve hand made.

    The booths we fill
    with displays 10 feet wide
    are secured in our vans
    for a long distance ride.

    Created by day
    and driven by night
    to arrive in town
    at your art fair site.

    This gallery we build
    in our 100 square feet
    can withstand mild wind
    but not snow or sleet!

    The sun and fair weather
    are art fair friends
    as we hope for blue skies
    and upward sales trends.

    The consumer is fickle
    when stock markets dive.
    Collector confidence
    keeps art fairs alive.

    With jewelry and pottery
    and paintings so bright-
    we offer our best
    for the publics delight.

    To future young artists
    we meet in our booth-
    imagination and crayons
    are part of their youth.

    We might light a spark
    by something we say-
    and meet them again
    as artists some day!

    To share and inspire
    are what we do best.
    ‘Making a living’
    is put to the test.

    We want to feel safe
    in our 100 square feet.
    It gives peace of mind
    to all that we meet.

    Booth fees oh my-
    And jury fees too…
    We pick and choose
    by what shows we’ll do.

    We too are consumers
    of this thing called a ‘fair’
    to decide to apply
    with the art we will share.

    These shows stay alive
    by the art we all do
    not just white tents
    but advertising it too!

    This dual commitment
    for artists and shows-
    To give it our best
    as everyone knows.

    This isn’t a hobby
    or part time thing.
    This is what fuels us and thus what we bring.










    We’ve supported ourselves
    and put food on the table.
    Sent kids to college
    and donated when able.

    We’ve seen each other
    at our worst and our best-
    and keep making art
    with an undying zest.

    We’re in this together.
    We’ve accomplished great things.
    Artists and directors-
    the art that it brings.

    This tight knit group
    is why we’re all here
    to hold securely
    a lifestyle so dear.

    Proxy exhibitors
    hurt what we do-
    by faking all out
    on just who’s who.

    With imports off shore
    and buy/sell so cheap-
    it’s the honor of our trade
    we fight hard to keep.

    This is our life
    its critical to see
    that I respect you
    and you respect me!

    by Patricia Hecker…