The 27th Annual Show Poster Contest

May 2023, by Sunshine Artist Editor

Sunshine Artist received close to 70 submissions in its annual Show Poster Contest.

Diane Sulg was one of the judges for this year’s contest. As she closely examined the posters, two trends seemed to emerge.

“One was the wonderful trend of using bright, clear colors to capture the reader's attention. Personally, I loved the ones that used a single, stellar image to capture the essence of the event. Those posters were simple but impactful,” Sulg said. “A second, strong trend was to use artwork that strongly represented the event's locale. This could be geographical, historical, or even artistic, but it led the reader to believe that they would be discovering a unique event in a special place. Those posters made you want to both attend the event and be a tourist in an interesting location!”

Overall Best:
Palmer Park Art Fair

About the Show
Held in Detroit, the Palmer Park Art Fair is sponsored by Integrity Shows. It is described as a boutique art fair and limited to about 60 artists. 

The residents who live in the neighborhoods near the 200-acre park are affluent. This year’s fair is June 3-4. 

What Judges Said
“Great graphic and color!” — Diane Sulg 

“To the point — great composition and artwork.” — Jim Lang 

“I do like the more contemporary look, which promises more modern and new pieces to be seen. Eye-catching from a distance. It’s a good one.” — Brad Foster 

Desiree Kelly signs a Palmer Park Art Fair poster.
Photo courtesy of Vicki Elmer 

Meet the Artist
Desiree Kelly is an award-winning artist and a Detroit native. The former art fair artist is known for her work as Detroit’s premier portrait painter. 

She was introduced to oil painting while studying graphic design at Wayne State University. Inspired by the environment, she developed a style of storytelling through portraits. 

Her portraits of public icons are historically immersive and reflect on the narrative of her subjects by including artifacts and phrases within each piece. 

Kelly is known for her large-scale mural work and distinctive mixture of street art and traditional oil technique. Many of her murals feature multicolored sunglasses, with the most well-known one being her image of Abraham Lincoln. 

“Our goal with this image was to appeal to a younger audience, and it worked well,” said Mark Loeb. “We brought in many young adults and had the best poster sales of any image to date.”

Overall Best Runner-up:
The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival 

About the Show
The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival is one of the country’s oldest outdoor festivals. Held in Winter Park, Florida, it is produced by an all-volunteer board. 

This show ranked FA28 in last year’s 200 Best list, and more than 1,000 artists apply to it annually. This year’s festival took place March 17-19. 

What Judges Said 
“It is a bright, eye-catching image. Showing an image of the event is a plus.” — Brad Foster 

“Perfect for your event!” — Diane Sulg 

“I liked the stamp idea.” — Jim Lang 

Tom Sadler is the artist behind this design. Photo courtesy of Tom Sadler 

Meet the Artist 
Since moving to Orlando in 1983, Huntsville, Alabama native Tom Sadler has dedicated his artistic efforts to capturing the light, color, and mood of distinctive, local landscapes. The intense light — combined with the natural beauty of the many lakes, rivers, and parks of the area — provides a never-ending source of inspiration, he said. 

Sadler’s paintings come to life as a celebration of the beauty found in nature — sometimes exuberant, other times more subtle. 

With a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Auburn University, Sadler’s art education also includes the study of oil painting with instructor Jack Dempsey at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He later attended the School of Visual Arts, in New York City. 

Since then, he has studied the work of a variety of artists who have, in one way or another, influenced his work. Sadler is rarely not painting and believes “the door is just an opening to the world” that reveals potential subjects for his brush. 

Sadler works in oils because of their inherent versatility and performance. He uses consistencies of paint that range from very transparent to very opaque, depending upon the subject, setting, and season. He is especially drawn to scenes containing water. 

A senior faculty member at Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park, Sadler also does portrait commissions. His portrait of John McKay, president of the Florida Senate in 2001 and 2002, hangs in Tallahassee. 

Overall Best Honorable Mention:
East Lansing Art Festival 

About the Show 
Sponsored by the city of East Lansing, this Michigan show draws about 180 to 200 artists each year. It usually attracts around 60,000 people to East Lansing’s downtown streets. 

This year marks the festival’s 60th year. The show is set to take place on May 20-21. 

In 2022, the East Lansing Art Festival was proud to continue its 59-year tradition of bringing high-quality art to the streets of East Lansing, said Director Heather Majano. “The East Lansing Art Festival’s mission is to enhance the sense of community and appreciation of art, culture, and creativity in East Lansing and the greater Lansing region,” she said. 

What Judges Said 
“Fun poster!” — Diane Sulg 

“Bold colors here make this stand out in a group of posters and draw the eye. Simple, large graphic image and hand-drawn text as part of it are a big plus. It even incorporates the ‘information’ text as handwritten, so the entire poster works as a cohesive whole.” — Brad Foster 

Sara Pulver works in design, illustration, and arts administration.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer A. Berggren Productions 

Meet the Artist 
With more than a decade of experience in design, illustration, and arts administration, Sara Pulver has worked with clients in a variety of fields, such as online publications, local businesses, and restaurateurs. Additionally, she owns and designs a line of illustrated goods called Dear Ollie, which focuses on stationery and gifts. 

Pulver is particularly interested in working with people and organizations that amplify such causes as human and animal rights, mental health advocacy, and wildlife conservation.  

Meet the Artist

With more than a decade of experience in design, illustration, and arts administration, Sara Pulver has worked with clients in a variety of fields, such as online publications, local businesses, and restaurateurs. Additionally, she owns and designs a line of illustrated goods called Dear Ollie, which focuses on stationery and gifts.

Pulver is particularly interested in working with people and organizations that amplify such causes as human and animal rights, mental health advocacy, and wildlife conservation.

Overall Best Honorable Mention:
Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival 

About the Show 
A coastal favorite, the Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival combines the classic southern dish with family-friendly entertainment, an artist market, live music, a kids’ zone, food, a craft brew fest, and more. 

The Georgia event is sponsored by the Jekyll Island Authority and held in Jekyll Island. This year’s festival is Nov. 3-4. 

What Judges Said 
“Well done.” — Jim Lang  

“Very lively and eye-catching.” — Diane Sulg 

“The design is super-great, not only eye-catching from a distance but also easy to read as well from a way off. I got less of a feeling of an art festival simply because of the name of the event, and it was only when I came in close that I could see the art items in the design of the shrimp — which, by the way, is also a wonderful design element.” – Brad Foster 

The team behind this poster is (from left) Kevin Udell, Alexa Hawkins, Claire Davis, Nancy Kring-Rowan, Brian Lee, Kathryn Hearn, and Allison Leotis.
Photo courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority 

Meet the Design Team 
After a two-year cancellation due to the pandemic, the festival returned in 2022 and marked 15 years of celebrating the flavors of the South — Southern music, Georgian-grown farmers and artisans, and local chefs and fishermen. This year’s poster art is a representation of just that. 

It is a fun and colorful celebration of the South located within the festival’s more than 30 acres in the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District. This year’s poster was a collaborative design by the creative team within the marketing department of the Jekyll Island Authority. 

Overall Best Honorable Mention:

About the Show 
Summerfair Cincinnati sponsors this Ohio festival, which ranked FA4 in last year’s 200 Best list. It is among the oldest shows in the country. 

It is held on Cincinnati’s Coney Island and features about 275 artists. This year’s festival is set for June 2-4. 

What Judges Said 
“It is a nice eye-catching design, very colorful, and easy to read.” — Brad Foster 

“The relevant information is clear, stands out. Good composition.” — Jim Lang 

“This poster has it all — color, vitality, and good information that is easy to read.” — Diane Sulg 

Tom Rovito enjoys putting a visual spin on his work.
Photo courtesy of Jayne Utter 

Meet the Artist 
Tom Rovito is a graphic designer and artist who loves to put a visual spin on things. In this poster, he plays hide and seek with elements and tools that Summerfair artists use to be creative. 

Take a few minutes and find the glass vase, clay pot, flat paintbrush, pointed paintbrush, pencil, colored pencil, photograph, necklace, and ring. Also look for the butterfly, dragonfly, and ladybug! 

Best Layout:
Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show & Sale

About the Show 

The Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show & Sale is sponsored by the Arts Council for Wyoming County. It ranked CC12 in last year’s 200 Best list. This year’s event is Oct. 7-9. 

More than 250 artists are featured in this Perry, New York, festival that is minutes away from Letchworth State Park. The show supports the council’s work, which includes exhibitions, scholarships, educational art programs, and events for the enhancement and engagement of the community. 

What One Judge Said 
“Nice use of graphics and color.” — Diane Sulg 

Kat Kuo is a graphic designer and an illustrator.
Photo courtesy of Meredith Hart Photography 

Meet the Artist 
Kat Kuo has cheerfully provided freelance illustrations, designs, and photography to clients nationwide since 1999. Her creative influences include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Berke Breathed, Gary Larson, and Sandra Boynton.  

“I am primarily a digital artist at this stage in my career, using Procreate on an iPad. My personal pieces tend to be whimsical and line art-based, but I also enjoy creating strong graphic color-block imagery, and I often use that style for client work. 

“Because I am both a graphic designer and an illustrator, I work on pieces like the Letchworth Arts & Crafts Show & Sale poster as a whole, tinkering with both image and text to create a balanced whole. 

“For this piece, I wanted to convey the essence of the event as instantly and boldly as possible. Thinking about the combination of the arts and the natural beauty of western New York led me to blending brushes and leaves, so I researched native trees and their leaf shapes, looking for the ones that would read most effectively in a simple silhouette format. The festival is held in October, so it made sense to use rich fall colors,” Kuo said. 

Artistic Merit (Tie):
Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff 

About the Show 
The Krasl Art Center sponsors this show in St. Joseph, Michigan. It ranked FA24 in last year’s 200 Best list. 

The venue overlooks Lake Michigan, and the fair features about 170 artists. This year’s festival is July 8-9. 

What Judges Said 
“I like the graphic for this one a lot, and how the designer worked to try to incorporate the title lettering into the overall feel.” — Brad Foster 

“I think it’s a nice painting.” — Jim Lang 

“Lovely artwork!” — Diane Sulg 

Angie Spears incorporated 60 blooms of Michigan native wildflowers into her poster design.
Photo courtesy of Angie Spears 

Meet the Artist 
Angie Spears is a self-taught artist who specializes in colored pencil drawings of indigenous plants and insects. Combining elements of classic botanic illustration and magical realism, she uses pyrography tools and colored pencils on custom panels made from sustainable woods to celebrate the beauty of native wildflowers. 

“I invite the audience to look closely at my drawings to find the beneficial insects that live in the blooms and help with pollination,” Spears said. “I pay special attention to subject matter selection to make sure that each piece accurately represents flowers and insects that would exist together in a specific location and time frame.” 

She travels often, taking reference photographs for use in her artwork. Spears uses those photos to create accurate botanic representations in an idealistic composition for her drawings. 

“I use a pyrography (wood-burning) tool to burn the drawings into the wood and then use colored pencils to add color and life,” she said. “Each piece is sealed with an archival-grade varnish with UV protection to ensure light-fastedness and durability.” 

As Spears has become more alarmed about the decrease in monarch butterfly populations and their recent classification as an endangered species, she has placed an emphasis on showing the beauty of the plants that feed monarchs and fuel their migration each year. She hopes to inspire others to appreciate how the restoration of prairies and native plants (particularly native milkweed and pollinator species) is both beautiful and essential to the survival of the monarch. 

“For the poster inspiration, when Matthew (Bizoe) contacted me about doing the poster, he explained that it was their 60th anniversary show and that their founder was very fond of flowers. I knew that I wanted to create a work that honored that memory, as well as celebrated the beautiful location of the show. 

“Matthew agreed to send me some photos of an American elm tree located centrally in the park that overlooks Lake Michigan. I incorporated the tree, the lake, and 60 blooms of Michigan native wildflowers — one for each year of the show. 

“I also included monarch butterflies because Michigan is on the monarch migration path, as is Texas, where I am from. The butterflies were a nice link to represent my journey as an artist,” Spears said. 

Artistic Merit (Tie):
St. James Court Art Show 

About the Show 
Ranked FA2 in last year’s 200 Best list, the St. James Court Art Show attracts an estimated 250,000 people. It is sponsored by St. James Court Art Show, Inc. 

The event features about 600 exhibitors. This year’s show is Oct. 6-8, in Louisville, Kentucky. 

What Judges Said 
“Clearly designed as a souvenir rather than information poster, the lush and detailed artwork here is quite eye-catching. Then, coming closer, the row of images across the bottom are, I am assuming, scenes from the park setting of the show, making this another ‘this show and no other’ type of poster.” — Brad Foster 

“Great artwork.” — Jim Lang 

“This poster represents its surroundings well.” — Diane Sulg 

Mark Bird’s background includes illustration, design, and being a watercolor artist.
Photo courtesy of St. James Court Art Show 

Meet the Artist 
Painted by renowned watercolor artist Mark Bird, the inspiration behind his 2022 print, “A Historic Preservation Success Story: The St. James Court Fountain,” was to bring the iconic fountain’s story to life. 

The watercolor features three paintings in the lower portion of the composition. The central painting of one of the cherubic figures on the fountain captures the essence of historic preservation: guardians of the past, which is preserved for the future. 

Originally installed in the late 1800s, the iconic Victorian-period fountain has a remarkable history. In the mid-1950s, after years and years of repairs to the fountain and a seemingly endless flow of dollars toward its salvation by the St. James Court Association, the fountain was crumbling and in need of a total recasting in bronze to ensure its permanent place in history. 

However, the St. James Court Association did not have the funds. Malcolm Bird, president of the association, suggested a Fountain Fund specifically for this project that included using proceeds from hosting an art show and guarantors. In 1957, Malcolm Bird and St. James Court residents hosted the first St. James Court Art Show. Years later, on September 14, 1975, the recasting of the fountain was unveiled during a reception and dedication ceremony. 

Bird (Malcom’s nephew) was commissioned by the St. James Court Art Show to create the new print series, “A Sense of Place.” He has enjoyed a professional career of more than 40 years as an architectural illustrator and designer, working with many of the world’s foremost architects and designers. 

In addition, Bird has produced commemorative edition artworks for public and private events, businesses, agencies, and a multitude of other clientele. His works hang in private and corporate collections around the globe. 

Art Birmingham 

About the Show 
Art Birmingham is sponsored by the Guild of Artists and Artisans and is held in downtown Birmingham, Michigan. 

The festival showcases juried artists and attracts about 80,000 people. This year’s event is May 13-14. 

What One Judge Said 
“Good artwork.” — Diane Sulg 

Ravens Michelle Detering encountered on a trip to California inspired her work.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Detering 

Meet the Artist 
Michelle Detering is a nature-inspired watercolor artist from Michigan. Her work offers a contemporary take on watercolor that resists the traditional restraints of the medium. 

Detering’s artwork emphasizes fluidity and flow and demonstrates a balance between looseness and control. She works to capture the essence of the animal or being to evoke connection and emotion with the viewer. It is her hope that, through her art, she inspires others to see the beauty found in nature. 

The “Raven Abstract” painting used for the 2022 Art Birmingham poster was inspired by ravens she encountered on a trip to California. She painted several studies of these ravens, including several more-realistic versions. However, it was this abstract painting that she felt captured the spirit, movement, and essence of these birds. 

The poster design drew inspiration from Detering’s painting, using the essence of movement to influence the font selection and drawing the color choices directly from the painting. 

Armonk Outdoor Art Show 

About the Show 
The Friends of the North Castle Public Library sponsors the Armonk Outdoor Art Show in Armonk, New York. This festival ranked FA5 in last year’s 200 Best list. 

About 160 artists exhibit at the show, which attracts affluent, art-buying attendees. This year’s event is Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. 

What Judges Said 
“It says art show to me.” — Jim Lang 

“Excellent poster!” — Diane Sulg 

Susan Goldstein designed this poster for the Armonk Outdoor Art Show.
Photo courtesy of Susan Goldstein 

Meet the Artist 
“Our 60th anniversary poster marks the final one designed by our show’s long-time graphic designer, Susan Goldstein. Mainly a volunteer position, Susan’s design role required year-round dedication, endless patience, and attention to detail. Her creative talent is only surpassed by her work ethic and commitment to making each Armonk Outdoor Art Show more successful than the last. 

“Susan selected ‘Apollo Belvedere’ by Dane Shue for the 2022 poster. Shue is a contemporary pop artist working out of Dallas, Texas. He makes vibrant paintings and mixed media artworks using gestural painting and printmaking techniques. Drawing influence from pop art-icon Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, his work invokes the themes of nostalgia and celebrity culture,” said Managing Director Nicole Blum. 

Barrington Art Festival 

About the Show 
The Barrington Art Festival is produced by Amdur Productions, Inc. It features about 120 artists. 

The festival takes place in Barrington, Illinois — its downtown has cafes, boutiques, and restaurants. This year’s show is May 27-28. 

What Judges Said 
“Clean, simple, direct. It could also be for a flower show. It’s a good example of simple design.” — Brad Foster 

“Simple, but a quick look and I know what it’s about.” — Jim Lang 

“Very inviting poster. Great use of space!” — Diane Sulg 

Philip Schorn interacts with an attendee at a festival.
Photo courtesy of Mark Borenstein 

Meet the Artist 
Artist Philip Schorn uses Prismacolor colored pencils to create his art. He finds the pencil gives him the ability to have control to put in the realism he wants in his art. 

“My art is not just another drawing, it is an art form that requires patience, skill, and the ability to envision the entire rendering. I can look at the ground, and I see the shapes, light, and shadows,” Schorn said. “In my drawings, I focus on realism and to put in as much detail as possible. I want the viewer to see more than they thought was there.” 

Meet the Judges

Brad Foster has been selling his pen and ink drawings at art festivals for more than 30 years.
Photos courtesy of Brad Foster 

Brad Foster 
Brad Foster is an artist, illustrator, and cartoonist who lives to draw and draws to live. His incredibly detailed pen and ink drawings, on both serious and humorous subjects, have been referred to as “Elegant Whimsy,” and he is fine with that. 

Foster has been selling his work in juried art festivals all over the country for going on 32 years. He loves talking to people about making art and sharing his own artwork with all those he can. 

He also does the goofy “Funny Business of Art” cartoon for Sunshine Artist to give his fellow festival artists a grin about this strange business they are all in! 

Jim Lang continues to work with clay.
Photos courtesy of Jim Lang 

Jim Lang 
Jim Lang has been teaching in one way or another since 1984. “After college, I started out as a long-term substitute, then taught art therapy, and then took on a part-time teaching position which led to full time,” he said. 

He has always done his own artwork, had a gallery, and offered private lessons. “Now that I am retired from school, I still share my skills with people who want to learn, and I have my own work and gallery to stay motivated,” Lang said. 

What inspires his work? “As an artist, I look at nature, my feelings, and try to capture a moment. I love to carve into the clay. Cuneiform made a big impact on me when studying ancient history. I look to capture a vision with a simple line, shape, or texture,” Lang said. “When painting, I do it for myself. I do not consider whether or not it could be hung in someone’s living room. Therefore, I have only sold a few paintings in the last 40 years. Still, I don’t stop painting. My pottery continues to sell because it has a function. I price my work reasonably, because it is my firm belief that everyone can have art in their world.” 

Diane Sulg enjoys painting botanicals.
Photos courtesy of Diane Sulg 

Diane Sulg 
Diane Sulg is the executive director of CRAFT (Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow), a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the vitality of the handmade, American craft industry. She is also the founder of American Craft Week, which is an annual, national celebration of handmade craft. 

Sulg was the founding director of Quad City Arts, a regional arts council serving 32 communities in western Iowa and eastern Illinois. There she founded and directed the Quad City Festival of Trees — now in its 36th year of celebrating and contributing to the cultural vitality of the region. 

After moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, Sulg and her husband opened Maddi’s Gallery, a handcrafted gallery specializing in fine American craft, handmade jewelry, and Southern folk art. In 2009, Maddi’s was named the Top Retailer of American Craft in the United States by NICHE magazine. 

She exercises her own creative energy by writing HeARTbeat for Sunshine Artist. It features artists who have created successful, art-based businesses. During the pandemic, she used her time at home to begin painting, primarily semiabstract botanicals. She has concluded she is a color addict and is in love with paint! 

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