Posts Tagged ‘Sunshine Artist’

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.


Call for Entries: Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival

April 11, 2008

Amish Acres, Nappanee, IN

Nappanee, IN
July 31 – August 3
350 exhibitors
Deadline: April 15

The 46th annual Amish Acres Festival is seeking talented artists and craftsmen to exhibit and sell their wares around the pond at Amish Acres.

Amish Acres is an 80 acre farmstead, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the heart of Indiana’s Amish country, Nappanee, IN. It is an historic attraction demonstrating three generations of the legacy of the family who lived here and a destination for travelers interested in learning about the Amish a way of life, a life nearly forgotten in today’s fast paced world.

Helpful information:

  • This is a regional event
  • There is an effective advertising and marketing plan that encircles Nappanee from Chicago to Detroit to Toledo and Indianapolis
  • The readers of Sunshine Artist have selected Amish Acres as one of the 200 Best for the 10th year running, further ranking it the 7th Best Classic & Contemporary Craft Show in the Country
  • The American Bus Association chose Amish Acres Festival as one of its Top 100 Events in North America in 2008 for an unprecedented third time (2005, 2006 & 2008)
  • It is a highly anticipated event. Tour operators bring bus loads of customers to this once a year festival.

A new flat booth fee structure is in place for the second year. No commission is charged. Artists enjoy:

  • free accessible parking
  • electricity
  • no jury fee
  • exhibitor discounts on hotels, theatre tickets, food and drink
  • $10,000 in cash awards
  • 60,000+ is the expected attendance based on previous years

Three entertainment stages and a variety of strolling musicians provide a festive backdrop to the artist marketplace. In 2007, exhibitors were present from 296 cities in 34 states across the country.

A casual family oriented atmosphere abounds as Amish Acres remains a family run business. The Festival was started in l961 and is still owned by the same family, on to its second generation of management now. There are many activities on this historic farm but the Art and Crafts Festival is a singular event and eagerly awaited by past exhibitors and patrons.

Visit the website to learn more about Amish Acres and to download an application:

Letters From You: Where Can I Find Reliable Info About Art Fairs?

January 31, 2008


Hi, I really enjoy and use the information from your site all the time…. I have been doing shows for several years now. Last year was the first year I did outside shows.

A lot of the crafters I have met have told me about 2 different magazines that I have not been able to find even in larger book stores:
Sunshine Artist
Crafts Report

I was told they both deal with the aspects of the craft show business, and the trends of the shows. So if you have any knowledge on these I would really appreciate it. Thank you,
Jill Modena
Squiggles, Stitches and Squishes
Polymer clay designs

Hi Jill,

It depends on where you live if you can find these magazines in a book store. I know I have seen them in Borders in Miami and some other places. But instead of trying to locate them on the newsstand, why not go online to: Sunshine Artist and subscribe. It is relatively inexpensive ($34.95) and is full to the brim with art and craft events. You can also see their show listings online at:

As for the Crafts Report, go to their website: There is a link for subscribing ($32.95 for 12 issues) as well as a link that tells where to find the publication on the newsstands.

If you are solely looking for show listings, the ArtFairSourceBook, has excellent listings with a lot of information about each event. It is somewhat pricey, but full of useful information.

Welcome to the wonderful world of outdoor art fairs and good luck!

happy shoppers at Arts, Beats & Eats

On Jan 24, 2008, at 12:16 PM, Jill Modena wrote:

Hi Constance,
I’m not just looking for show listing all though you never can get enough show info….
I really want to start learning as much as I can about the trends of the shows, and all the ins and outs.
How other people set up, where they buy their display racks from etc…
How well other states are doing compared to Michigan where I’m from.
To see if its actually worth going out of state for shows.
So if you have any advise on anything to read I’m game to read it.
Thank you for your time,

Do you mind if I include these emails from you in my newsletter?

January 26, 2008

Hi Constance,

No, I don’t mind at all.

I wasn’t too sure at the start last year, my first outdoor show started out nice and sunny and about an hour after the show began the worst storm with the highest wind I ever saw in the state of Michigan blew in and I swore I was never doing it again.

That sort of weather happened to me twice, but I made it though the summer. And once again I’m printing out applications for the year an trying to squeeze in even more shows.

Thank you, once again

January 31, 2008

Hi Jill,

You can never do enough research on participating in art fairs. Here are a few more online resources:

Alyson Stanfield’s blog —

Larry Berman’s forum —, you can subscribe to this through yahoogroups. They talk about a lot more than photography.

The ArtList —

NAIA forum (need to be a member) —
(This is my favorite source.)

Art Fair Sourcebook forum —

Additionally, Jill, do these three things:

1. Attend any local fairs, even if you are not participating. Talk to the exhibitors, look at their equipment: display racks, tents, etc., look at how they display. Take lots of notes.

2. Any time you are in an art fair set up early then go out and watch the others setting up, see the vehicles, how they get work to their booth, equipment, etc. Find the most attractive booth and study it for yourself.

3. The BEST resource: word-of-mouth. Never miss a chance at an art show to talk to your neighbors and share information. “Done any good art fairs lately?” is a good opening. Then the flood gates will open.

Best of luck to you in 2008, it is going to be fun!

Call for Artists: State College, PA

December 25, 2007

Susan Livingston's sculpture

July 13-18
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

41st Annual Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition

Downtown State College and Penn State Campus
300 Exhibitors

Deadline: February 1, 2008
Applications available online:

Where is State College, PA? Visit this link.

Why should you apply to this festival?

Here are the words of the CPFA Executive Director, Rick Bryant:

  • In the latest Sunshine Artist magazine ranking, we came out at #6 on the Fine Art and Design list. We were listed with the top big city or resort shows, that’s pretty heady company
  • We bring roughly 125,000 people to State College over five days in July (the first day of our Festival is Children’s Day, and our artists set up at the end of the day, so that they are there four days).
  • Show is in its 42nd year and is on Penn State campus and the streets of the Borough of State College. Actually, we were founded by the State College chamber of commerce and Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture as a “town/gown” event.
  • Penn State alumni return for “Arts Festival Alumni Weekend,” a time to renew old college ties, attend special programs, and, of course, the arts festival. We are strongly supported by Penn State.
  • We hand out over $17,000 in prizes, the top prize, the Arete Best of Show Award (Arete is a Greek word meaning roughly, excellence) is $2500.
  • We also receive lots of support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania-not only the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, but also the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.
  • Our festival features the outdoor show, an indoor gallery exhibition, a celebration of Italian Street Painting, performing arts on three indoor stages and four outdoor stages.

The publisher of says:

If you are sincere about your career at the art fairs, this is an event that you should seriously consider for your participation. The best reason, besides the ones Rick stated above, is that your work will be seen by a clientele who comes from across the country for this annual reunion at their alma mater. The exposure to a new audience could lead not only to success at State College but it will broaden your art fair experience. Lots of Easterners attend and it is a good cultural mix that you will appreciate.

For more information about the Central Pennsylvania Festival of Arts visit their thorough website.

Art Fair Feedback: Zapp

November 26, 2007

Krasl Art Fair in St. Joe, MI

Dear Connie,

As of this email we have currently participated in 47 shows for the year with 3 more remaining. Then we will be exhibiting out west for the winter months and our schedule will start again. We travel quite extensively to shows throughout the US and have met many artists during our travels.

We are not hearing positive things about the new ZAPP application process. We have heard it described as an enormous money maker!

Supposedly, shows are now receiving thousands of applications at say $35.00 to $50.00 per jury process, while the show you might be applying to are only accepting several hundreds of exhibitors.

Artist friends that we know have been rejected from shows they have done for years. For the promoter, this is a good thing having new people with new product. But what happens to the attendees when they attend the shows looking for their favorite artist and they are no longer there? How many jury fees can an artist endure without acceptance? And what about the commitment while the shows itself was growing?

In your forum have you had any contact or comments with artist regarding the ZAPP process? At this time we are going to suspend applying thru Zapp until we hear further on this issue.

Thank you for your time.

Doris A. Guffey

Jody dePew McLeaneHello Doris,

Thank you for contacting me. Zapp has caused a good deal of consternation in the artist community. Here is some further information about your concerns:

First, about Zapp being a moneymaker for organizations: Zapp is only indirectly a moneymaker for art fairs. It is expensive for an art fair to become part of the system, ranging in cost from $3000 to $8000 depending on the options selected and the number of applicants a show receives.

The system is very attractive to an art fair, not as a moneymaking venture, but because

  • it simplifies tedious office procedures such as building and maintaining a mailing list
  • printing and mailing of applications
  • data input
  • handling thousands of slides into and then out of the carousels
  • enabling art fairs to maintain electronic communications with prospective exhibitors

This, in itself, often justifies the expense for the shows. In addition, the number of artists registered with Zapp is very large, probably the largest database of exhibiting artists in the country. This enables them to reach out to all of these interested parties with an easy to fill out application. It gives the art fairs access to many, many artists who will apply because it is so easy and just one more application is only $20-$50, very easy for an artist to justify for the chance to be seen by the jury.

This means that often an art fair will receive more applications than they had under the old system, which does equal more income from jury fees, which then helps pay the Zapp bill. I attended one mid-level show’s jurying last winter. The previous year they had received approximately 200 applications. This year they received around 300 applications. The increase in applications offset the costs of using Zapp and they also saved money because they did not have all the other jurying expenses I listed above.

What does this mean for you? Yes, there are more applicants for some art fairs which means more competition.

I’ve been in this business for a long time. In the early days if you had pretty good work it wasn’t too hard to get into almost all the shows you applied to and we would see our friends at most shows. We all knew (word of mouth) where the best shows were.

Then Sunshine Artist appeared with its top show ratings, followed shortly by Greg Lawler’s ArtFairSourceBook. These publications allowed anyone who subscribed to have access to information that we had been trading behind the booth for some time. Suddenly shows were harder to get into, everyone knew where the top shows were and everyone seemed to apply to the top twenty or so. Competition skyrocketed!

Enter Zapp–now you see the previous magnified and everyone is trying to learn this new system that requires new skills to get into the best shows.

I will answer your other questions in another blog entry. I hope this was helpful.