Art Fair Insiders

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

Good morning fellow artists. It is 8:11am (ET) and this is the first thing I'm doing on my computer. I posted a thread yesterday about a event I took place in on Saturday and in my comment I said some rather disparaging things about the Judges, especially in reference to their ages. My heart spoke to me this morning and said "Cathy, you screwed up." So with that, I am issuing a heartfelt and sincere apology. Chalk it up to just another example of speaking BEFORE thinking. I also thought ok, I'll just delete my posting but then I decided NO, that would be rather cowardice and so again, I apology if I offended ANYone. The Judges, being teachers, took their day off to do this and whether I agreed with their methods or what not, is not the point. The point is, they did what they were asked to do and this Event is over and in the history books. I hope that all of you will accept my apology as I wish to remain in this group and continue to learn. 

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Nothing to apologize for.

I read your post and understand your frustration. The larger shows have spent years trying different ways of making sure that all artists get seen by the judges. It started with a colored dot on your booth sign. Then it was the judge's assistant putting the colored dot on your booth sign. But that didn't work because again, the judge didn't have to enter the booth for their assistant to add the dot to your sign.

Most recently I heard from one show that each judge will come into the booth, introduce themselves, and give you a minute to explain your work if it needs explanation. Now that's finally what we as artists be considered fair. Something every show should do.

Larry Berman

Thank you Larry. I'm a sensitive person by nature, so, if I feel like something I did or said was a tad over the top, I'll follow up with explanations and/or an apology. Again, thank you for understanding. Your 2nd paragraph, about the judges coming into the booth, yes, that's the way it should be done. Completely fair and out in the open. 

I have just completed my 2nd winter season doing fine art shows in Florida.  My 2D work is all framed because it is painted fabric. Frames are a risk, of course. I win some, lose some because of it, I am sure. My frames would be considered rustic/modern; one light, one dark. 

On awards: was just at Mayfaire in Lakeland, FL. 17 awards: 5 to photographers (1 ea in 3 categories, 2 in HM category), 2 oil painters (1 best/show, 1 aw/excellence), 2 sculpters, 2 wood, 1 fiber (same woman whose baskets always win), 2 drawing/graphics in Merit, 3 clay, 1 glass. Judge's background: photography. Not one jeweler or 2D in other than oil or drawing received an award. Bias here anyone? Neither I nor any of my neighbors ever saw the judge but a dot magically appeared on our booth tag. 

I like the shows that think to send a volunteer to each booth in front of the judge so you can be available to the judge when they show up. Because I have experienced that, I have my prepared speil ready for my 30 seconds, given the opportunity. 

I am happy my work sells, not hugely, but good enough. Awards are nice as it is money in and no inventory out. However, I am in awe of the art I see and am not surpised one of those precious awards won't find its way to me. Shockingly though, a couple have, so one never knows. Maybe there was a textile art bias that happed in my favor those times.  


I just read this apology post and your original post ripping the judging... if you were to delete any post it would be your apology!  The way most shows "judge" is a travesty.  Not because I'm not winning (I actually did, once) but because they don't actually "judge the show".  They skip along, picking from their own personal taste preferences, ignoring everything they wouldn't have in their own houses then choosing their favorites from that whittled-down group.

And to agree with all the sensible replies... the only even approximately fair judging would be an open, in-your-face, introduced yourself as a judge, chat a minute, LOOK at some of the work, be obvious in your note-taking , etc., method.

--Chris Fedderson

Thank you Chris! I just sent a "feedback" email to the organizer of the event and very respectfully let her know of how I perceived the judges, also letting her know that NO JUDGE came in my tent...of course, that, I am not completely sure of, since they were out & about "in secret". You NAILED it. Judges should give the artists an opportunity, to introduce themselves and talk about their art. I'll share with you this funny moment: I was doing a art show 33+ years which I met my husband...I had this small black & gray watercolor vignette, that he absolutely went NUTS over!!! I also had a watercolor painting of a white horse head, which, he HATED. Darn if that little vignette won an award!! (2nd place)...

This was my first show in 30+ years...its a start...let the learning curves begin...again, thanks for telling it like it is with Judges. 

After reading this, Catherine, I typed into the search box on the top of the page "judging at art fairs" ... volumes have been written on this topic. The system I like the best is that finally quelled complaints from artists that their work hadn't been seen by the judges was what is sort of called the "Les Slesnick method." A system that Les developed for some Florida shows. There are lots of parts to it but the best part is that the protocol for judging the show was that each judge to into each booth introduce him/herself to the artist and the sticker is put on the booth sign. This is not necessarily to have a lengthy conversation, but to simply assure the artist their work has been seen. The rest of it is that this is a hard task and usually the judges are instructed to spend two minutes in each booth. Doesn't seem like much time? We could debate that forever ...

However, if you want to learn more about this I suggest you do the search also. Thanks for both of your posts. 

Thank you Connie. I am getting a lot out of the replies to my posting. Good stuff! Yes, like Chris, you also, NAILED it. Judges, please just spend a few minutes with the Artist & really view their work. Not a unreasonable request. And I will search this site for more postings on this subject. Thank you!


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