Art Fair Insiders

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

Jacki Bilsborrow (my friendly admin on this site) and I headed to Chicago on December 2 specifically to visit the One of a Kind Show. 600 artists, who could resist this lure? What we found there:

  • 126 jewelers and 148 wearables (clothing and accessories), some of these were double and even triple booths. All price points included, even a young woman who was making dainty crocheted earrings and pendants and selling them for $25. I did ask her how many she had to make before she would even break even! It had to be months of work.
  • Gourmet Gallery a row of artisanal foods, delicious stuff, where you could hardly get through the crowds
  • booth fees ranging from $1800, repeat exhibitor with a 10 x 10, to newbies with corners that were around $3000
  • once you have participated you don't have to reapply but are reinvited, although they are changing the rules for 2012 as they only had six openings in the jewelry category this year so jewelers will all have to reapply
  • "This is my very best show every year," Hand Jive and Dinah Morrison
  • "This is a complete ripoff for the artists," a photographer I've known for some time
  • Tickets are $12 but artists had email codes where you could download a free ticket
  • curbside carryout service for buyers as well as a packaging and shipping service
  • sports lounge where football fans could take refuge, comfortable seating, TV and bar service
  • fashion shows, artist talks
  • There were a lot of artists from the East and especially the West Coast who had flown in, took advantage of the walls and electricity that the MMart provided and did a great job of dressing up the plain white box to make their booths inviting, sort of in a cool minimalist way
  • a mix of work from the frankly commercial to true one of a kind made by independent artists and everything in between, cottage industries, small wholesale designer businesses. I'd like to criticize, but it makes for very interesting shopping.

A very pretty booth, that would be inexpensive to replicate

I meet up with Ray Mosteller of AFI once again

AFI member Paula Grill with her reinvented recycled clothing

Boutique Home, European Inspired Couture Bedding & Drapery

AFI member Katie Balas's painting

Amazing dolls by Lucia Friedericy, AFI member. I did an video interview with Lucia but it didn't come out. She has come to the art fairs from doll shows and is finding a whole new business.

The infamous Francis ducks. Mistura was there also.











This booth of urban decay-type jewelry was at least 3 spaces wide

The night before we attended First Fridays gallery walk in Michigan City and found this ingenious method of displaying unmatted, unframed photos by Ryan Bolger of

Ryan mounted dry wall frames to the walls and then secured his prints to the metal frames with 4 magnets, one in each corner! Can you see any way to use this system in an art fair booth?

We finished off the weekend with a visit to the Art Institute. 

I had my new iPhone with me because I wanted to add some videos to this site. Alas, I should have tested it ahead of time. Videos to come.

Views: 1449

Comment by Marina Terauds on December 11, 2011 at 12:31am

It was nice to see you Connie, thank you for stopping by my booth!

Comment by S. Travis Lindenbaum on December 11, 2011 at 10:19am

Terrific pictures, thanks.

Comment by Jim Parker on December 11, 2011 at 10:51am

Thanks for the in-depth report, Connie!

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 11, 2011 at 11:55am

From my art fair loving Chicago friend:

One of a Kind and its 600 artists was a big success.  The prices and art covered all ranges, so you could not go away without something.  We went Friday and it was packed, but you could still get to the jewelry counters and showcases.  We had reports from 3 or 4 attendees that Saturday was so packed you could not get to the counters.  A report on Sunday was it was empty.  Go figure.  We will probably stick to Friday, so the good stuff will not be sold.  Judie snagged a one of a kind handbag/purse from Turtle Ridge in Door County.  It would not have been there on Sunday.

Comment by Annette Piper on December 11, 2011 at 2:59pm

Wow, looks like it was an interesting show to attend Connie - thanks for the pictures too - makes it feel like I'm getting the real insiders look ;)

Comment by KS Funderburg on December 12, 2011 at 9:30am


Do you have anymore photos of whole booths? I am very curious about this show and if I ever get a chance to do it would love to have a memorable outa- this -world booth! Always wondering.....creating..devising!!

Comment by KS Funderburg on December 12, 2011 at 9:31am

PS- Thanks for the shots you did give us!!


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