Art Fair Insiders

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

Have you ever wondered or at least hoped that there was some type of consistency on the jury process from show to show?  I have always been very baffled by this very secret process. When you hit the tab in Zapplication for Jury Details, it may or may not give you any insight whether your jury fees are money well spent or if it is just put into the coffers of the event director. Some with detailed information-some with no details at all!

Please don\'t get me wrong, I have been excepted into many Fine Art Shows and have won awards.  I sometimes am baffled though when or if I am rejected to find out that someone that I know gets into an art show under the same category that is a little less artistic or knowledge of that art. I know what you are thinking either I am all into myself or a sore loser-the answer is no! I am just trying find the rhyme or reason to it all.
Once we all crack those codes we will all be able to sleep tonight.

What I am finding out over the years is that by applying to an art show no artist is guaranteed that you will judged by a juror with knowledge of your art category. That a juror may judge on personal taste and not the content and the mastery of the piece. The juror may judge higher marks and critique a submission on the same art that they do.  When do we start questioning the outcome and make some shows be accountable on the process of their jury selection and scores? Are we asking too much for the 30-45.00 dollars we paid in advance to have them be the gate keepers? Why is it not required at the point of denial that in that letter it gives a brief comment as to why you received that rejection? So, what did my 45.00 go toward?  3 Photos of my art and 1 photo of my booth with 3 jurors looking at each one of my photos less than 2-5 minutes....

A new day will come when artist band together and start a Union for equality and accountability.

I know there are other artist out there with my own bad taste and concern over the jury process.  Maybe Zapplication can be a leader and make some type of standard for us artist that is using this forum to apply to show? Until then we as artist need to be actively reviewing these art shows and posting them on the available forums so other artist can make a more educated decision to apply.  Not only just on the experience of the show but the interaction with the show hosts whether they were accommodating to your requests on your score outcome, or whether they could give you impute why you were not selected. Some shows will not give you the time of the day after the judging ends and some will give open criticism that could help you secure the next show. Is that too much to ask for that is included in the jury fee?

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Have you ever tried to contact anyone connected with the show after not being accepted?

I have, a few times.

Yes some are very kind and  some are very stand offish and as in my post do not give you the time of the day.

One important factor has not been mentioned. Who is producing the show? If it is an independent privately funded organization, the selection of artists will be different from a show produced by arts organization funded by the city, or one produced by chamber of commerce. The latter are going to invite and invite back artists who's work sells and produces tax revenue. If you get invited, don't sell squat, do you think you will get in again? Take a look at the jury process through a different lense.

I often wonder how many artists precisely report to the shows how much they sold in the belief that this will get them invited back. It is important to report sales accurately and precisely to the IRS when doing our taxes but I do not believe artists are always truthful about show sales unless it is a commission based show.

I most certainly do not want to mention names...but I have been at shows where I talked to artists that complained about how bad sales were and then later read their online review that mentioned how great they did.?? Maybe a last minute rush of sales to save their day?

When we are honest and straightforward with our answers we can not go wrong.


I will second that! From seeing it.  We are in a field where, unlike other careers, it is a hard gauge to know if what you are earning is on target. I understand artists wanting to keep their sales private, of course, but it doesn't make things any easier for evaluating a potential show.

That is another thread...

Factual data are in the taxes paid. I doubt many artists have excess cash to pay higher than amount of tax due. I have heard of some who paid higher commissions to a show in  order to get invited back. 

Richard are you saying that our applications through Zapplications are being screened by some promoters who brought in the most revenue than on your portfolio? When they are going through the jury process can they identify who you are?

Geeze people use a little common sense. The resort towns in Colorado where I do successful shows (minumim $1000/day sales average) have a community of artists who jury the events.Why in the world would they turn over their event to somebody like Cherry Creek in Denver.  They walk the shows and know the artists. They can easily get the tax data from the local promoter. Their local projects are funded by tax revenue so for the "sake of estetic art" are they going to bring in art that won't sell in their demographics?  This does not mean that really great work does not come into these shows and there are always new artists. But... over 20 years of doing some of the same shows I see all my old friends who do very well at these shows year after year. Go Figure! Its the business of art.

I've heard others say what you're saying, Richard, about some shows selecting based on sales. I understand the desire to generate tax revenue(sort of), but this seems to be a total corruption of the jury system. (I don't know the correlation between sales and quality, but I'm guessing it's closer to O than 1). More puzzling is is how show organizers would have any clear idea about individual sales. If shows of this sort ask artists to self-report on sales, what possible incentive would there be to report truthfully? If I sold poorly at such a show and for some reason wished to return, I would almost certainly lie about my sales. I am not now nor have I ever been a Boy Scout.

Look at the taxes paid, and yes I was a Boy Scout. I am also an artist who has spent a lot of time studying and analyzing the business side of art. My Ph.D was in geology with minors in chemistry, engineering and math. Hope that helps with were I am coming from. 

Hi Richard,

I agree with you as to promoters wanting artists whose work sells well. I have done shows long enough that I think I understand how much of this works.

 But, could you please explain to me what you mean about the taxes? I'm missing it.

Who is looking, and at what taxes specifically? I am interested, thank you.

Here in Colorado we pay a tax on sales. It almost always consists of State and City, and may include County and special districts such as Regional Transportation, Stadiums, Museums, and etc. Promoters are supposed to turn in lists of artists participating in “Special Events” and residents have special “Multiple Event” licenses apart from your regular business sales license. If you do not report your sales or turn in a $0.00 return for a show, the Colorado Department of Revenue will come after you (Sometimes the idiots at CDR comes after you anyways). Promoters get feedback on these data. More typical is, you pay your sales tax at the end of the show on forms provided by management. Example: at a show run by local service organization, I took my check and form to their tent. A volunteer was entering sales and tax data into a computer before you got you loading permit. Yes, they had traffic Czars who did not let vehicles in until booth was down and artist was really ready to load up…YEA! Take a look at the Colorado shows I do (all are reviewed and blogged) as they are well managed, good for artists and are frequented by a fair number of artists from elsewhere including FL and east coast.     


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