nels johnson (2)

Aloha Nels

10890404277?profile=RESIZE_400xIt is with great sadness to hear that our dear friend Nels Johnson is not going to talk to us anymore about the shows. My husband Norm Darwish and I have known Nels since the early 80's. Norm was a photographer and you know how it is you know best the people who are in your own media category, you know them and you know their work. We must have participated in at least 50 shows together over the years. There are many stories to tell about that.

When we created this website sometime early in the century (2009) Nels was one of the earliest members. Early on he started sharing his art fair journey with all the new folks streaming onto the site, and sparred with many of the veterans of the business, amusing us but also bringing helpful information for his readers. Every blog not only had great tequila stories it has "meat." Thank you, Nels. Your writing on ArtFairInsiders would make a wonderful book that I think even non "show people" would find enthralling.

If you haven't been following Nels over the years and you don't want to get anything else done today I suggest you visit his member page where you'll find some great writing. A few to get you started: 


(Does anyone have any of the titles of some other of Nels' blogs? I'm sorry to say that this system for this site does not list them on Nels' page. But I figured out that if you put the title of one in the search box it will pop up. Oh, I just did a search for "Tequila Report" and that brought up a TON of links. Nels, I'll bet you do ... Help!)

This link includes some of Nels' early photos:

Okay, Nels, see you on the road ... much love to you.


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An Artist Looks at 76

9730883254?profile=RESIZE_710xMonday, October 25, I turn 76. Will be starting my 46th year in the art show biz.

In the photo above, that is me at my first art show in Hawaii in the 1970's while in the Army.  Only made $25 but I was hooked for life.  I am the one with the camera,

Yesterday, was a whirlwind of medical activity for-me.  I got "nuked" and "pinned."

I have a new heart doctor now that Ilive in New Smyrna Beach.  She had me undergo a nuclear stress test to see the condition of my heart.  Remember nine years ago I had open heart surgery with four valve activity.

In this test, you are injected with a nuclear isotope which ends up stressing your blood vessels and your heart, makes them get dilated. It is no biggy if you can withstand a minute or more of shortness of breath, mild nausea and a little dizziness. Four minutes later your body is back to its normal rhythms.

Later I-went to Walgreens to pick up two prescriptions. I casually asked if they were giving booster shots yet.

I got my two Moderna vacs back in the spring. The clerk said they had the Phizer booster. So I got it in my right arm and my annual flu shot in my left arm. Did not even feel the prick of the needle.  I was lightheaded for about 10 minutes.  That was all the side effects I got.  Slept well all night and I have a slight soreness in my right arm ( the booster one.)

So, you are probably asking what does this have to do with show biz.

I would say,"a lot."

Will feel safer now with the booster at shows.  Will wear a mask if mandated at a show, otherwise, will keep my distance.  After all, we are outside in moving air, and nobody is standing around in your face for a long time.

After 46 years I am finally starting to cut back on the number of shows I do.  For years, I routinely did 27-33 shows a year. This year I did 21.  For 2022, I hope to do 18.  We will see how the jurying goes.

What helped me this year was getting into three of the biggest, Winter Park, Des Moines and Kansa City Plaza.

Sales from these shows equal three or better of the routine shows we do, where you are grinding it out to make 3-4K$. I did well enough at the Plaza that I cancelled my two October shows.  I will do three in November and take December off.

I have three in Florida in January, will probably do 2-3 in Feb, see how the jurying goes.

I love doing the outdoor shows.  I find it so much more rewarding talking directly to my customers.  Sales online, and galleries are nice, but not nearly as rewarding, plus they will not pay the bills.

As I age, the only part of the biz I do not like is the show setup.  At my age the setup wears me out big time. Usually it takes three and half hours to setup, that is erecting the booth with all tarps and awnings and then stocking it.  I usually need a solid one hour nap, or more, to recuperate.

TEARDOWNS are better, only one hour and a half.  I still am exhausted. I will drive home if I can make it in two hours or less. Otherwise I am staying in the hotel.  I always get a good meal, good sleep and a early start the next morning.

For you younger ones, you do not have to deal with failing night vision yet.  It is a serious factor when driving.

I had cataract surgery in my left eye last year.  Plus I get a shot monthly in that same eye to combat macular degeneration, the wet one.

Oncoming car lights create a hard spherical glow.  It is difficult to see clearly the middle road line.  So I keep my eyes on the road sideline.  An old trick I learned in Drivers Education back in 1962.

For the first time in my career I paid a tent guy to setup a Lightdome with Propanels, did it at Winter Park last May.

The $300 for the rental was money well spent.  For a biggy shows where you sell $5K or better, the cost is neglible.

I just bring the art and hang it.  Teardown is easy-peasie . Put the art in the van, then take the money and run.

I plan on doing this the rest of my career.

We are in difficult times with rising expenses  in every category--show fees, jury fees, fuel,cost of goods.

Only the good and smart will survive.  I plan to be one of them.

I still get the thrill of making a sale, no matter how much it is. It takes me back to my first show in Hawaii in 1975. By a waterfall, only made $25 that day, but I was hooked for life.

Still feel that same spirit.  I am a lucky man.

Aloha, look forward to seeing you all in the upcoming months.

Stay safe, stay focused and make great art.

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