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Nels Johnson's Blog (217)

Artisphere, Greeneville SC--Small show with killer sales

I put this show among my top seven in the USA.

Only 130 booth spaces, with more than a thousand artists applying.

This was my third time in. It was also my best one there, although it started off scarey.

First, a little history.

In the eighties, when I started going away for five months to do shows in the Midwest, I always stopped in Greenvillle.

I had a solid glass artist buddy named Loren Marshall who lived there.

In those days I was lugging a 21-foot…


Added by Nels Johnson on May 16, 2017 at 3:00pm — 8 Comments

Ah ha! A Tequila Report for after Fort Worth

Ellen and I killed ourselves to get to FW in two days. So going home we said, let's do it in three days and enjoy ourselves.

Of course, that meant we would eat and drink reall well at

fun new places

So we left Monday and came east on I-20 to Shreveport and then headed south on I-49 to Lafayette, which is in the heart of Cajan country

So, about 40 miles south of Shreveport is a lovely town called Nachicthocies. The City of Lights. Definitely worth a stop

This charming… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on April 28, 2017 at 3:30pm — 4 Comments

Main Street Fort Worth--Absolute killer show for most of us

Putting it succinctly, I made more sales at this show than all the previous eleven shows I have done since January.

In my 42 years of doing art shows this was the second best one, only the 1999 Kansas City Plaza was better.

I was not alone. I talked to four other artists who said this was their best show ever.

Almost two thousand artists apply for about 160 spots. Many are called, few are chosen.

My wife, Ellen Marshall, got in and was selected as the poster artist and tee… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on April 27, 2017 at 8:00pm — 15 Comments

Tarpon Springs Art Festival--A lot of work for a little return

This is a very labor intensive show to do for setup and tear down. It is held on the grounds of a scenic park on a bayou in downtown Tarpon Springs. It is fenced off and they charge a $5 admission.

There are only three entrances to the show where vans can park and offload. Otherwise you are carting work from the van parked on the side streets, sometimes as far as two blocks away. It is one giant clusterfuck for the 200 artists there.

It might be worth it if you were…


Added by Nels Johnson on April 11, 2017 at 2:30pm — 8 Comments

Spring Arts Festival, Gainesville,FL--Weather was great but sales sucked royal canal water, but there is a great Tequila Report

This was last weekend.

I have always had an endearing relationship with this show. Back in the late 70's when I started doing shows--this was one of my first ones.

I lived in Gainesville and got to know many talented artists and crafters who were doing quite well on the circuit. They taught me a lot of the fundamentals on how to be a successful artist outdoors.

Most of those artists are long gone, you could say I am carrying on the tradition of them.

In the 80's-

90's… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on April 6, 2017 at 2:30pm — 9 Comments

Melbourne Art Festival-New Howard Alan Show, last weekend.

This one was new first show for HAE in downtown Melbourne.

This is one month earlier than the long established festival which had been downtown for years which is now moving to a local park away from downtown.

HAE had 150 booths setup in quads down New Haven, the Main Street downtown.

Everybody had one great outside wall to display on. The other opposite side was not jammed up against your neighbor. You had room to store or hang there,nice.

There was room for rear storage if… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on March 27, 2017 at 4:30pm — 9 Comments

Manatee Art Festival--Apollo Beach, Florida

First off. This show is not out in a dung-infested cow pasture--anymore. A few years back it was moved to a scenic county park right on Tampa Bay.

You can smell the salt air, feel the cooling bay breezes wafting thru your booth.

I have done this show off and on over the 25 years it has been held. It is only a thirty minute drive from my Ybor house.

On this date, everybody would love to be at Vero Beach art show. But alas, those old art ladies will not let all of us in, so other… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on March 16, 2017 at 12:30pm — 4 Comments

Lake Mary-Heathrow Art Show--do not go near it

I have not done this show since 1993, it will be another 25 years before I would try it again.

On this date in Florida what are you going to do if you do not get in Gasparilla?

If you try Bonita, remember it is the last one of three, and usually the loser. Also remember Barry Witt sends out a mailing in January for all three shows. He does not send out anymore. I guess you hope they kept the postcard on a magnet on the refrigerator and will see it when they go for the frozen… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on March 8, 2017 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

St. Petersburg Fine Art Show--not bad if you were not in the sand

This was last weekend. A Paragon show in North Straub Park beside the Museum of Art.

This show had lots of visibility. Right on Beach Drive, across from all the happening restaurants. There is a steady vibe here of people enjoying themselves-- and enjoying the art.

It was my second time doing this show. Only 126 artists. Easy peaszy setup. On Sunday, tear it all down then get your van. Most people were out in an hour.

You can set up a day before, very leisurely. I got to sleep in… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on February 27, 2017 at 4:25pm — 4 Comments

Downtown Dunedin Craft Show--Howard Alan--How I lost my art show virginity

Well, after doing more than 1500 art shows in 42 years, I finally did my first Howard Alan show.

"Gee Nels, didn't you say they could put the epitaph on your tombstone,'He never did a Howard Alan show'".

Well, times are a changing.

First off, I did three art shows in January with a combined total of over $1200 in booth fees that did not even return me a gross of $5000 for the month.

Second, I had come back rejectedly from Ft. Myers the weekend before. I was supposedly numero… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on February 15, 2017 at 1:00pm — 12 Comments

Images--New Smyrna Beach--another take

John Leben just wrote a beautiful blog about this show, check It out.

I am just going to give you a little more perspective, plus, talk about places to eat and drink at there.

I lived in NSB for six years in the eighties. I have done it many times, and done well.

This year was one of the worst shows there that I have ever done.

On Sunday I made a whopping $40 sale at 11am, then did zero the rest of the day.

I sell a certain amount of humor in my photos, unfortunately,… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on February 7, 2017 at 1:30pm — 2 Comments

Bonita Springs Art Festival--the first one, in January

I am behind on my blogs, but here goes.

The good news is the fricking construction is finally done.

The whole area looks beautiful.

The bad news is that it still does not attract the base of patrons that attended when it was at the Promenade on Hwy 41.

We had great weather and the crowds were there.

Sales were spotty.

Glass artist across from me had a five figure show, painter two booths away did almost twice what the glass person did.

The key to both of them… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on February 7, 2017 at 1:12pm — 1 Comment

Naples New Years Show-- A Big Letdown, horrible way to start the year

Well, I started my 44th year in the biz with a lot of hope.

I was loaded with lots of work, ten new images and I expected big results. This is usually a $3k-$4k show.

Ellen and I left Ybor early Friday morn under warm, clear skies. It was frigid everywhere else in the USA except Florida.

We knew the weather forecast, 90% rain due for Saturday with a clear but chilly Sunday.

We knew it would impact sales, but it was Naples. They always buy our work there.

I have done… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on January 10, 2017 at 2:30pm — 6 Comments

Great Gulfcoast Art Festival--the best fall festival in Florida

When I come back to Florida after five months in Michigan, the GGAF (Pensacola) is the best show to do in Florida in November and December. All the other shows are ok for keeping your head above water (read, being able to pay the bills).

People make great sales at this show almost every year. By great, I mean $4K and up.

I will do another blog about the other shows I did in this time frame, but for now, let us talk about Pensa, GGAF.

It is always the first weekend in November. It… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on December 23, 2016 at 4:54pm — 4 Comments

My thoughts on next year--after 43 years in this biz

I really liked Oscar's latest post. It got juices rolling about next year. Gas prices, soaring stocks, more disposable income, all great topics.

Two things missing from this prognostic discussion ( good word to use in Scrabble, Barry).

One, the factor of too many A/C shows everywhere.

Two, the dumbing down of America about appreciating art. The present generation could give rats-doodles about art. Electronics rule, wall art comes a poor second. Craft always has a chance,… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on December 20, 2016 at 1:30pm — 21 Comments

Downtown Sarasota (Paragon) Show--nice but we needed more people

This was held last weekend in a charming Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota. Bill Kinney produces the show and does a good job of it. About 130 artists setup on the street and sidewalk with the park as a charming backdrop.

This time of the year you see mostly locals, the winter people have not arrived yet. You are selling to a mostly older, monied crowd. They are very traditional and conservative in their tastes for art. They love the birds, beaches and flowers.



Added by Nels Johnson on November 23, 2016 at 5:30pm — 2 Comments

Another view of the Bayou City art show.

I am excited that Melanie Rolfes had such a great show. And wrote such a great review.

She is a really good writer who gives great Insights and I was so happy to meet her.

She is a pistol. We had a lot of laughs.

I was worried about how she would do at this show with her color abstract paintings. Obviously, she blew them away and went home with a lot of moola.

I felt I should write from another point of view--the artist who needs a lot of customers to make a good… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on October 19, 2016 at 2:00pm — 11 Comments

St. James Court Art Show--yeah it is the original, but it's age is showing

Well, I am sitting in a kickass sushi restaurant in Austin, Texas enroute to Houston on Friday for the Bayou show. Shot pics in Clarksdale, Mississippi (Blues flavored city, think juke joints). Shot in Helena, Arkansas, Tuesday before King Biscuit Blues Festival starts, spent that night in Texarkana, just a pit stop there is nothing here to get excited about.

Which gets me back to here.

St. James, a legend in their own minds, now in its 60th year, is a fading maiden, long past her… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on October 5, 2016 at 10:00pm — 8 Comments

Funky Ferndale Art Show

Ferndale is a north Detroit suburb that is going from a decaying old town into becoming a very "now" kind of scene.

It happened last weekend. You do an early Friday setup and then the show runs 3-7 that day and10-7 Sat. And 11-6 on Sunday.

It is a tight setup on the Main Street there. Most booths are back to back with zero storage. There is a wee bit of storage on one of the sides. Artists can store on sidewalk in front of them.

It is run by a savvy Detroit area promoter, Mark… Continue

Added by Nels Johnson on September 27, 2016 at 3:00pm — 9 Comments

Common Ground Birmingham Art Fair--fair to so-so for many

This was last weekend in downtown Birmingham,Michigan right on the street--Old Woodward Avenue. This show is produced by the Ann Arbor Guild but you do not have to be a member to do it. It is on Zapp.

For the second year in a row, weather killed the attendance on Saturday--rain, until about 3pm. The crowds never showed up even though we still had over three hours to sell. This basically made it a one day show.

A couple of artists that I know made serious money that…


Added by Nels Johnson on September 20, 2016 at 1:00pm — 5 Comments

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