Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Lake Forest Labor Day weekend art fair—Fair but not great for most

I have been on the road for 10 days doing this show plus St. Louis.

So I will start with a blog about LF. St. Louis later.

This is a long-standing show on the lake north of Chicago.

Very wealthy people live here, and many attend the show which is on Sunday and Labor Day Monday.

It has an early morn setup, no night before.  There are more than 200 artists.  There is a smaller show going on by them at the same time.

Held right downtown right by the commuter railroad tracks, it is a perfect magnet to attract buyers.

And they come.

People are dressed quite fashionably, many are escorting their expensive pets.

Lots of loud barking going on by little perky pups. Everybody is out showing off their expensive pets.

And some actually take the time to look in the booths and buy something.

Not many zombie-walkers here.

I have done this show about seven times, it is always steady but not great.

St. Louis is great, LF is ok.

I had a memorable moment happen to me this year.

It is one of the many reasons why I still love doing the show circuit for more than 47 years.

So, this nicely coiffed young kid waltzed into my booth.

He sported long Curley blond locks.  He was dressed in white linen shorts and wore neat pressed blue buttoned shirt.

He eyed my images carefully, taking about five minutes to give all the walls a good inspection.

Then he spoke to me.

”Are these photographs photo-edited?”

I naturally replied, “Of course, you are not going to get a great photo produced from a raw image. You have to edit.”

He looked a little closer.

”So you do not push the slider bar up to embellish the saturation.”

At this point I was about to ask him if his name was Mr. Epson. (That is the name of one of the best selling inkjet printers in the biz.)

Instead I asked him to pick out his favorite.

And he did.  He liked one of my hand-colored iconic figures.

I said, “It is yours,free.  I like your questions.”

Then the kid did an amazing act.

He walked up to me, photo in hand, and wrapped his arms around my waist.  He gave me a big hug like I was this steely Sequoia tree.  He said, “Thank you.”

He made my day.

The shows to me are not just about selling. If I can inspire the next generation to appreciate good art then I feel I have truly done something good.

Labor Day Monday was a lot slower.  Sales were minemil.

Teardown was very humid and wrenchingly hot.

I took water breaks every twenty minutes.  After open heart surgery I have learned to take my sweet time.

I am probably one of the last of artists who still bungees his metal racks to the roof of his van.

I used to take two racks at a time on my shoulders up the six foot ladder. Repeat fours times and bungee them down.

Folks have been taking a poll on me, wagering when I will fall off the ladder and crack my head.

They can wait, I ain’t falling.

Now, I am smarter.

I stack all the racks against the van.  Then I climb up the ladder and grab a rack, one at a time, and hoist it to the roof. My workouts at the local gym keep me able. Then I tie them down.

My buddy Steve Baldourf says I am an inspiration to others.

Me, I call it a way of life that I have doing since my twenties.  I plan on doing into my eighties.

Next, I will tell you about Saint Louis.

It was killer show, only wish all shows were like it.

Views: 466


You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Comment by Barry Shandler on September 20, 2019 at 8:11am
Nels........... Please write a book.. My life on the art show circuit
Comment by Nels johnson on September 20, 2019 at 7:35am

It did—St. Louis, blog coming

Comment by Fletcher Dean on September 20, 2019 at 7:28am

Great review, Nels. As a photographer, I get the edit question all the time and I think your response is spot on!

And, like you, I like to give art away. Every show, when a young person shows interest, I try to give away a couple of prints. 

Take care - take your time! - and my good wishes on your next show - may it be the one that forces you re-order more of that Epson ink!

Comment by Nels johnson on September 16, 2019 at 8:23pm

Did Park Forest once, that was enough, nice committee runs it.

Comment by Meg Mettler on September 16, 2019 at 4:38pm

Good job, Nels. We'll ride out into the sunset together, although Ellen and I may do it first ;)

I wish we'd been more generous with the kids when we went to the shows. One thing Norm always did was carry around a bag of toys that he would use to engage kids when their parents were looking at the art. He wanted to make it fun for them too so they'd come back and engage with the artists and their parents could enjoy the events.

Don't you think it is time to make room inside your van for the panels? It can be done. But I'd bet you have a guaranteed way to load your van and that no changes can be made at this late stage.

I've never been to this Lake Forest show. Mostly we always did the Oakbrook show nearby and then Arts, Beats & Eats. Have you done Park Forest?

Whoops -- looks like I'm posting as my sister.

15% Off All Orders! We are offering 15% off every order now through May 31st, with our best wishes for a swift economic recovery for all!

Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the 2018 Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2020   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service