"The chief source of art is man's pleasure in his daily work, which expresses itself and is embodied in that art itself."
William Morris (1834-1896)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Juried Art Shows

The deadline for submitting applications to the 2010 American Craft Council shows is today. I'm always alittle startled by the prospect of scheduling so far in advance. The timing of application deadlines as well as acceptance/rejection notifications vary for each show. Usually juried shows are rejuried every year and by different jurors each year. It is a little like playing Russian Roulette with our careers. The number of retail shows we do depends on the amount of wholesale orders we receive from our galleries and vice versa. This becomes a balancing act of major importance.

There could be books written about why this show went well and that one didn't. In fact, there are published fair guides for artists to use as a resource. These guides use information gathered from participating artists to rate shows. We rely heavily on recommendations from our fellow artists and our own experience. Of course, we can not anticipate larger factors like weather, the economy, conflicting events, etc. Often we find that two shows we are interested in are on the same weekend. The variables are endless. Not only do we have to make an intelligent guess about which shows to apply to but also the show has to then invite us to participate. We are looking for the perfect match!

Artists applications require professional images of their work and sometimes their booth, a brief explanation of technique and an application fee anywhere from $15-50 per application. Sometimes it is required to submit a check post dated for the booth fee as well. This is returned if the artist is not accepted. Booth fees run anywhere from $250 - $3500 or more for shows running for one day, 2-3 days or a week inside or outside. Once accepted, the artist also must pay for any additional services, like electric or parking.
Today the images are submitted digitally through two online clearing houses for most shows or on a CD for smaller shows.
There is not a standard for the jurying procedure. Sometimes jurors are paid, sometimes not. A qualified juror would be an established artist, a gallery owner, museum curator or educator. There might be 1-7 jurors for a show. Images are sometimes projected onto a large screen for all jurors to view simultaneously. At other times they are on individual computers for each juror to view. Usually a juror assigns a score to each artist. The sum of all the jurors' scores determines the artists' standing within his/her category. Most shows try very hard to balance the mediums evenly. The highest scores in each category get invitations. The artist is then free to respond with an acceptance or rejection and at that time is required to pay at least a deposit on the booth fee. Some shows will have a wait list composed of the artists that just missed the cut. These artists are informed that if a space opens up in their category, they will be invited.

Because of all the uncertainty, artists apply for more shows than they can possibly do. After the results are in, they decide which ones best fit. Of course, the shows have their deadlines for response too so sometimes you end up accepting one invitation before you receive a result from another show you would rather go to being held on the same weekend. Sigh! all this and we haven't even gotten there....

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