Art Fair Insiders

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


First off, it is me, Nels Johnson, writing this.  It says Ellen Marshall, my wife, but I am writing on her computer and it logs into AFI as Ellen. (My computer is "migrating" at the Apple Store, into a newer model--one that is guaranteeing me 100-per cent acceptance rate at all shows I apply to, heck, I bought three of them, gonna give a couple to my special friends, after I get done "certifying" them.

Well, in our household this past weekend Ellen took off for Winter Park and I got to go to Lakewood Ranch--whoopee!

Ellen got the better deal.

I showed up at the ranch early Saturday morn to set up my booth.  This show is held in tight quarters, you almost have to squeeze between booths to get to another area.  In past years I have had a lovely corner where I could park the van and dolly right to.  Naturally I asked for the same spot.

But no, I was assigned the spot from hell.  I noticed at least four other artists had their usual spaces, but not me. First off, you could not get your van even remotely close to the space--think an easy two-block schelp.  Then you would have to squeeze your Magline Cart thru very narrow openings to get to the spot.

I demurred.  I asked if there was anywhere else they could stick me.  The director said "Nada" and then I said "Aloha", see ya and I was down the road, no show, no income, no booth refund, but that's show biz sometimes.

I did get to play golf both days instead and won a grand total of $64.20 in my league which I promptly applied to drinking green beer and green Jack Daniels manhattens.

Meanwhile Ellen had one of her best Winter Parks ever.  She killed them on opening day and at showend she had a lot of empty spaces on her walls.

I think the majority of artists had a great show there.  And why not?  It is still one of the top Florida shows to do.

One distressing thing about the show.  Many lucky artists set up in front on the street--primo spots.  Others are in the park and some places there suck royal canalwater.

In the rear of the park they have artist booths lined up to the edge of the sidewalk on both sides.  This creates ahuge logjam of people coming thru without being able to really see much. Artists suffer.  Why doesn't the show let the booths set back from the sidewalk.  I mean they have only been doing this show for 40 years or more.  But that is Winter Park for ya.  Those people know best.

While on the golfcourse on Saturday I got a call from Teri Cusey telling me about the Les certification deal.

I went online later and read the thread.  Pretty amazing, over 3000 views on it.  Thank God people actually weighed in on the subject.  Very enlightening.

Let us just say a well-intentioned idea has been thoroughly vetted and found to be not sustainable.  You gotta hand it to Les he is always thinking of new ways to improve the lot of us fellow artists.  Personally, I think most of his ideas stink, but that is my own personal opinion.  He takes a too elitist position for my taste.  Personally, I wish he would take up serious gardening and quit being so involved in so many shows.

In our biz nobody gets to be king but it sure looks like he feels he is. Well, you know what happens to most kings.  Enough said.  There were great discussions and opinions got aired.

Some good came out of all that.

About Barry Cohen.  It is a heart-breaker.  I worry about something happening to me every time I get in my van and go to a show.  You gotta be diligent, check your equipment, check those tires, check those brakes--and most importantly--wear your darn seatbelt!  that is so crucial.

I never knew the man, saw him at a lot of shows, he will be sorely missed.

Ironically, I see where Connie reposted my blog I did after Boston Mills last summer--dealing with feelings of mortality.

The really good thing about our biz is we all usually have good things to look forward to.  It keeps our engines running in high gear.

In less than two months, Ellen and I will be heading to Saugatuck,MI where we live during the summer season, leaving Ybor City, its chickens and its heat far behind.

I got a solid summer schedule to build on.  Just got Boston Mills, Virginia beach and Artstreet this past week to go along with Krasl, Columbus and A,B&E.  Now I am filling in the holes.

Still got six more shows to do here with downtown Naples next.

Get to hit off real grass up north makes the golf game a lot more enjoyable.

I have lot to be thankful for and I think we all have lot to be thankful for.  Enjoy the moment, take deep breaths and hold onto to it for as long as you can.

Aloha, Nels.

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Comment by Nels Johnson on March 21, 2012 at 10:47pm

First off, nobody gave Lakewood Ranch a negative blog.

Happy for everyone that made money.

As to John--good to see you finally could post on a blog germane to your way of thinking--congragulations.

I did not tear down at noon--nice try bubba--actually it was around 3:30 when winds were whipping up and several booths took big hits with pottery flying and breaking.  Like I said, I was not the only one to tear down.  I felt concerned for my work.

 As to your comment about my original spot in that show, it was on a 45-degree incline backwards into the curb--only an idiot would setup in those conditions.

Thirdly, i will be there all weekend in Naples unless we get injurious winds.

BTW, I have done over 1400 shows in 38 years and only torn down early, three times in my life--and ironically, it was twice this year.  Go figure.

Gee John, I really am sorry I won't be getting one of Les'  little metal watch-ma-call-its.

John, work on your art, make great sales, think less about me--you really need to prioritize boy.

Comment by Annette Piper on March 21, 2012 at 6:16pm

Definitely must take time to smell the roses, watch the sunrise/sunset, be with loved ones.    So important.

Comment by Jean Murray on March 20, 2012 at 8:29pm

Lakewood Ranch was good for me too! We arrived rather late for an am set-up as we live fairly close. The booths were arranged in  'pods' of 10, 2 to a block. Yes it's tight to unload, but there was an access point per block A vetran artist blew around us & pulled up to her spot & Stayed there till her whole booth was set up!..... We had great crowds on Sat, and Sunday.. was well, Sunday....No fault of the promoters. I'm really glad the promoters don't live in fear of a negative blog.... maybe Artscape should have stuck to their guns......


Comment by Janet/John Costin on March 20, 2012 at 12:01pm

Hi Nels:

So happy to hear that Ellen had a great show.  We sent a few folks down to her booth..they were looking for her!

Comment by Janet Miller on March 20, 2012 at 7:15am

Oops, duh!That's what I get for posting past my bedtime. It does seem like Naples has a show every weekend tho. :)

Comment by Nels Johnson on March 20, 2012 at 6:56am

Janet, you misunderstand.  I am in Naples this weekend only. Other shows are elsewhere inFla.

Comment by Janet Miller on March 20, 2012 at 12:16am

Nels- You have 6 MORE shows to do in Naples?! Just how many shows can one city support!

Comment by Renee Davis on March 19, 2012 at 10:17pm

Yes Nels, that was John's van.  We even discussed moving our tents so you could get through since we had only raised them and not loaded them yet.


Comment by patti stern on March 19, 2012 at 8:02pm

I am so glad that Elllen had a very strong show and feel bad for your horrible location at Lakewood Ranch- but most of all, I miss Barry Cohen, the honest, professional funny guy who made the biggest mistake- one that took his life. He was a smart person, he just forgot to put his seat belt on- perhaps he made a stop, jumped in the car, then just forgot...please everyone- get your tires checked and wear your seat belts everytime you get in the car!

Comment by Nels Johnson on March 19, 2012 at 7:51pm

Renee congrats on good sales and the award.

Was John's van the one that was near the checkin tent when I was there?  Because that is the only van I saw, and they were busy loading the booth and made no mention of moving out of the way for me.  Early in the morn, maybe things were a little fuzzy.

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