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Show reviews

Hi all, Thanks for all the wonderful info on show tents. I have not
yet decided which one to buy but am checking everything out. Right
now I am just trying to get myself into shows. I have slides out to
a few places but have not heard from them yet. (I am getting ulcers
waiting everyday. One place, reputable and a really great show, has
already cashed my check a month ago and I still haven’t heard. I’m
am thinking that might not be bad since I did not get a rejection
right away.) Anyway, I am trying to find a site for show reviews
and have yet to locate one. I used to get Sunshine Artists years ago
and they were great but sometimes they did not have the shows I
wanted to go to reviewed. I plan on showing in the NEngland and NY
metro area and want to know before I waste my money on entry fees if
the shows I am thinking of are good or flea market junk shows. I
also wanted to find some shows for the summer to “test the market”,
but I think I might be too late to apply at this time.



As I sell higher end art I have found Sunshine Artist to be of little
use. Nor have I found much online to help me out. I went to the #2
rated sunshine artist show last year and did $1400 in 4 days, no good
when you have hotel bills etc. But the wooden puzzle guy and the dried
flower arranger had a field day, in other words I don’t really trust
them for fine craft/art info. If you are lower end silver it may work
for you.

My favorite show source is The Artfair Sourcebook (800) 358-2045. The
next edition with the early deadline shows should come out this fall
sometime. The give alot more info of the type I need and the layout is
easy to use. They tell you if there is a bandfest or drinking going on
which I would rather not deal with. The price is not cheap! But I
don’t work for them or gain in any way by recomending them and would
suggest it. There may also be regional guides in your area but I am
not familiar with them.


I have gotten a sample issue from ACE News. I didn’t order the
newspaper at the time because I don’t have enough of an inventory to
fill up a tent by myself yet. But they might be what you are looking for. Ellie


I know you are excited about applying to shows but don’t spend too
much time “giving yourself ulcers” waiting. It can often take up to 3
months. Look at the original application, it may have the notification
dates. Usually rejections and acceptances are mailed back at the same

Here’s the kicker…it you don’t get accepted, don’t take it
personally. It’s one of the hardest things but believe me, we all get
used to it. I’ve already been rejected from 3 good shows this year (2
of which I did last year) and accepted into 2 for the first time.
There’s no way to know who’s on the jury each year and what type of
work they’ll like.

As far as tents go, another option is renting from one of those large
party rental places. I did that last summer for an outdoor show and
it worked out nicely. I rented a 10’x10’ KD Kanopy with 4 sidewalls.
It took about 5 minutes to put up and cost around $100 for the
weekend. It alleviated the stress of buying one (and the cost!).

You are probably too late to apply to more summer shows (I am
currently rushing to apply for December shows with June 1 deadlines)
but I would go to these shows and check them out in person. Get an
idea of the quality of work and then apply to them next year.

Good luck!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry


There are certainly no easy answers to the show problem…trying to
figure out what and how to market is the preoccupation of every major
corporation catering to public taste. Furthermore, for every person
with sophisticated taste, there are a hundred very capable artisans
vying for their patronage. “Making money” at the high end is almost
antithetical. If it were not for the patronage of nobles and
churches, many of Europe’s finest artists would not have fluorished.
( Mozart comes to mind )

Unfortunately, in our democratic, consumer oriented society, the
level of taste is usually cloyingly simple and sentimental. Beany
babies and talking plastic are in the greatest demand…gawd
almightly, I almost forgot Chia pets ! Is it any wonder that we have
to import TV programs from Britain ?

One approach to marketing better quality goods is to have a hard look
at the demographics of the intended market. What is the level of
education, income, age etc. The only problem with this equation is
that sophistication and affluence draws sellers like flies to manure.
The reality is that creativity is oversupplied. Maybe it would be
better to compete at a more popular level and be happy with feeding
the kids. After all, it certainly takes a lot of creativity to come
up with a gimmick and what is wrong with making people happy ! Ron
at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Artfair sourcebook has on line a site which enables you to pull up
and print out critique on shows. Try it

Ron Mills, you have hit the nail on the head. Not all great artisans
can have billionaire patrons so if they have to feed the kids they
produce what the public will buy. Is this “prostitution of their
art?” Are they sacrificing their artistic integrity for material
gain? Is it common sense? At any rate , you deserve to be awarded
First Prize for delineating the problem so succinctly: A large
pink porcelain Cupid with a clock in its belly , to rest on the faux
oak (carved styrofoam) mantelpiece…as seen on TV home shopping.

this post is in regards to the gentleman from Los Osos CA,

   There are certainly no easy answers to the show problem...trying
to figure out what and how to market is the preoccupation of every
major corporation catering to  public taste. Furthermore, for every
person with sophisticated taste, there are a hundred very capable
artisans vying for their patronage. "Making money" at the high end
is almost antithetical. "...."The reality is that creativity is

I just couldn’t disagree more. Yes there are loads of people buying
bunk, but there are lots of discriminating buyers out there. Quite
honestly, there isn’t much I can say to this post with out sounding
aggressive towards the writer, so I just won’t say much. One point I
would like to say though, is if you find you work is not selling at
the high venues, take a look at your work. 1) is it unique, or do
many people have things like it. If it is similar to much other
work, what do you have that makes it better? Is it more affordable?
is it better made? is there an interesting theme? or is it just like
a lot of other work, not all that original, not the best in the show,
and too highly priced for the craftsmanship and skill? 2) How are you
selling your work? Do you approach this like throwing pearls to
swine? or are you happy to educate the customer, and involve them?
Is your display conveying quality? Are you lively, and entertaining,
or does the customer feel like they are interrupting you when
purchasing? I could go on, but, again, I don’t want to get bombastic.
I just want to stress, there is a whole LOT of good artists out there,
and a large number of people willing to buy from them. The biggest
problem is people expecting to be discovered instead of going out
there, putting in the hours, and doing the marketing. Just because
you are an artist does not mean that you shouldn’t have to market and
educate the public to what you do. In fact, and artist has to do that
more than many other trades!

Ok… 'nuff said

Alex Austin
Austin Creations
PO Box 1109
Rimrock Az, 86335

(520) 567-3044
fax (520) 567-3345

   Artfair sourcebook has on line a site which enables you to pull
up and print out critique on shows.  Try it 

would love to, where do i go?

and btw, anybody have any input about the crafts america’s
washington/dc show (nov2000) and the westchester/ny (oct2000)?

oakland, california

Dear Alex, I have read and re-read your post about my theme on shows
and I really can’t figure out what it is that rubs you the wrong way.
My basic contention was that there is a lot of talent out there that
has a hard time making ends meet, regardless of their efforts,
marketing expertise, personalities and “good looks” ! My
observations are based on talking with countless numbers of young
artisans who have run up against brick walls in their efforts to sell
their talents. I personally do not participate in shows except to
attend them and appreciate the talent that is often on display,not to
mention the fact that some of the goods can be equally unremarkable.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that selling at shows is a tough nut to
crack and often entails having to make concessions with respect to
"paying the rent". Many of the great European composers and painters
were faced with this dilema and had to frequently take commissions
which were artistically odious . As a retail manufacturing jeweler, I
find that not everyone can afford to buy an opus magnus nor do I turn
down a customer who wants me to execute a “whorehouse” design.
“Sparklies”, dingleberries, sequins and glow in the dark float many
peoples’ boats and do not elevate my aesthetic, but they make lots of
people happy and they pay for that satisfaction. My landlord DEMANDS
satisfaction and I never disappoint him…after all, that special
customer with deep pockets and good taste does come about fairly
regularly, but not as regularly as the “bread and butter” trade.
Yes, the starving artist cliche is real, and there are many out
there who do without in order to pursue their callings. More power to
them ! I would not be doing what I am doing were it not for the love
of it ! To hell with the money ! Making a living while doing what you
love is reward enough ! We Americans are obsessed with becoming a
millionaire…too bad. I have never known a wealthy person who was
satisfied with what he had. How much money is enough ? ( Just a
little bit more…) Happy crafting ! Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos,

You mentioned your landlord. Then there’s the one kid with the baby,
the other kid in film school and the ex-husband who doesn’t want to
know… I’m sure there are a million scenarios, but the bottom
line is always the same: not only do I have to eat, the dependants
also have to eat. Ain’t life grand? Actually, it is. Rebeca