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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Thank you for explaining that. I have a sales tax license for OH, PA, NY, CT, where I  file routine forms online. Ohio is biannual, PA is quarterly, Ct is monthly, and NY is now annually as I only do one show there. Also a once a year for VA. Only the VA form shows where I was showing, the other forms only want the sales amount and county.

I would not assume that anyone is going through the trouble to get this information, or would be able to get it.

I believe though, that if you do the "right" things at the show, you should be coming back, still sending in a jury fee, but you should be returning.

I think the whole point of my discussion has been railroaded and not to the content in which I am trying to point out.

I was trying to point out the accountability of the judging process and what we as artist get in return for our jury fee.  There needs to be more reviews not only on participation on a show but a place that we can review with our point of contact for the reason of denial.


With that said, Richard if you are telling everyone when someone applies through ZAPLICATION that the Jurors are already crossing your name off of judging you fairly because they already have your information, your tax amounts and your sales-this would be a hard piece of gum to chew.


I went on today and looked at the art show reviews for Artfairinsiders and noticed there really is NOT an area were you can make a review/comment without actually attending that particular show.  Maybe that is something that can be added or fixed. 


I do realize that  not all art shows are disconnected with the artist and the willingness to help you but, it is becoming more and more of myth to me. Yes, it is a business but, with that said a business person knows what customer service should be, therefore better reviews for themselves.

Hi Brenda,

If there is something that you would like to know about a specific show please ask. As you see from Richard's knowledge, there are some specifics that only artists who have actively participated in, know.

Sometimes after an artist has done, or even just applied to a show a few times, they gather more knowledge.

I only know about shows primarily in the states where I have my tax licenses but there are others here who would probably be glad to help you.

I'm sorry about your thread going off in another direction but I was curious as to what Richard had to say.

Not all shows require an accounting of sales. ACC doesn't. It's just a flat booth fee and anything above that, and your expenses, is your own business. I've only ever done one show (to benefit the Fine Arts Museums of SF) that was structured in such a way that the FAMSF handled all commerce and we exhibitors kept our percentage.

Somehow I seem to have offended your sense of intelligence, something that I did not intend to do. From your resume you're obviously a very bright guy. Instead I meant to comment on a system which claims to make jury decisions based on technical and aesthetic considerations, but makes them instead on market considerations. This gets to a question of values and from my perspective this practice, however naive I may seem, is dishonest and corrupt. And, again from my perspective, it is just one part of a seamy underbelly to this art fair "business".
I do shows in Ohio and Pa primarily. I do not file after each show but either quarterly(pa) and 2x a year Ohio. No one but me knows how much I made for each show unless it is a commission central check out show. I do not believe I am accepted or rejected based upon what I sold last year. They may consider how commercial my jewelry looks but I doubt even that. But jurying art especially without clear cut criteria is subjective at best. I have only one show that sends me scores and comments. I've juried for admissions to an arts school. It's hard and we had very specific clearly explained criteria which was shared with the auditioner prior to the audition. We are juried and it is subjective.

Art will never be objective!

On the upside- promoters often visit shows looking for new work, in order to keep their show customers happy.

No offense taken Al, I’m just trying to point out why I am so left brained about shows. I posted three articles on this site about how I research shows, and the who/why is something I consider in how the show will be juried.  Brenda my comments are to show that marketing can be part of the jurying process that some artists might not consider.  I will also add that Zapp is not involved in jurying any shows that I am aware of.  They are simple a middle man connecting artists with shows and forwarding artist images etc. to a show.  What happens to these data are within the show’s administration.

I don’t think market consideration corrupt a show. You can look at the reviews of the shows I do/have done and these managements bring out buyers with money to be spent on art.  What more can an artist ask for (besides clean close by toilets, traffic control, no buy/sell etc. LOL)?  Nor do market considerations detract from the quality and variety of artists at these shows.  On the other hand I have been in shows where “purity of art” reigned and there was a lot of esoteric work and unhappy artist who made no sales to a large wealthy crowd.  I remember a couple shows with some steel ballerina skirt sculptures and large painted abstract steel panels that simple were not a good fit with summer homes and condos in the Colorado mountains, whereas, wildlife photographers and artists usually did pretty well.

I agree with Brenda about what do we get for our jury fees. Sometimes we get nothing other than a rejection without any explanation.  I further agree that no single juror is qualified to jury all mediums and it is a very subjective process.  How many jurors out there have the knowledge you have about your medium and your level of work? Mine is leather, and I am lucky if I get a 60’s hippie who once made sandals to begin to understand what I am doing.


All jurying is personal preference and subjectiveness. I have seen terrible messes of paintings win awards. It's a total crap shoot. I say that with over 20+ years of entering shows. All you can do it hope you get a juror who likes what you do, but there is no rhyme or reason to it.

I have also contacted people after being "rejected" from a show (or art fair) and not been enlightened whatsoever. I have also been a witness to the jurying process of an "esteemed" and "experienced" juror in a gallery show, who didn't happen to like much of anything except really terrible artwork (in my opinion). All I have learned is that it truly is just whatever they prefer.

However -  it does seem to matter what the juror themselves specialize in (why do sculptors jury paintings? who knows?)

As for your union idea -- I have thought artists should have a union for a long time!

Brenda, you may be interested in reading this old post on this site.  It deals with some of the same issues.

Unions?? That's so living in the liberal world.........


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