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I'm applying to my first festivals and wonder if many shows that offer an Emerging Artist category might place the emerging artist booths in lower traffic spots than the other artists. I found two images of the "Rising Talent" booths in the Bayou City Art Festival, and it looked like one year it was a completely separate, semi-circular cluster of 5 artists away from the other categories, and in the other photo, it looked like all 5 shared a giant tent, with little to separate their displays.

I've been accepted to the Dogwood Atlanta Festival in April 2020 (painting category) after setting up a booth shot. I currently have an EZ up tent but do not yet have a legitimate wall system. The way I see it, these are the pros and cons of receiving an emerging artist spot versus a general painting spot:

Emerging Artist Category


-discounted or free participation

-tent & sometimes walls are provided (I could put off these purchases for several more months)

-fewer professional-level artists to compete with in this category 


-might still have to build or buy walls

-if walls are provided by the festival, I can't as easily control the aesthetic of my booth

-fewer total spots available in emerging artists 

-competition against emerging artists of other mediums

-booth might be placed in a worse spot for traffic? Thoughts? Experiences?

Painting Category


-Full ability to customize the look of my booth because I'll definitely have my own walls

-more total spots available in this category = greater likelihood of acceptance


-pay full price to participate before I've even made any money doing festivals

-must buy a nicer tent

-must buy or build some real walls (I don't like the look of mesh)

I'm based in South Carolina right now, considering applying to Bayou City, North Virginia Fine Arts, Old Town, Cherry Creek, St. Louis, and Plaza in the future. I know not all of these have an emerging artist category but I'd appreciate any experiences you may have had with emerging spots at these or at similar ones.

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I didn't read the whole post but you need to understand that you're competing within the category you apply in. Based on that you might stand a better chance applying as an emerging artist and take your chances that you may be better at painting then some of the other artists are at their chosen medium.

Larry Berman

I understand that... I'm looking for experiences or opinions on what I see as pros and cons of entering either category, which I laid out in my post. My most specific question asked if anyone has noticed that emerging artist booths are placed in less ideal locations for sales and traffic. 

This is to inform my decision on which category to apply to. It appeared in photos online that the Emerging Artists at Bayou City were distinctly separated from other exhibiting artists, suggesting that they receive limited foot traffic. 

At Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, the emerging artist booths are within the show as good as any other booth.

Larry Berman

I've never been involved with a fair/show that had a separate "emerging artist" category, but if this IS your first time... it might be the better choice to get one of those spots.

1. Sounds like this is available only for first timers-- so, "use it or lose it".

2. Since it is your first festival... look at it as "practice". Concentrate on your art, and displaying it-- set-up will be easier/less stressful than if you also have to deal with a tent and furnishings (find out what the booth/space will provide, and plan for that in advance). It also will be easier to pack your art in and out (and pack more of it), if you don't have to haul a tent/walls. 

3. It's a relatively cheap way of trying out "the art festival business", instead of  the "pay to play" option of a regular booth. "Competition" from fellow emerging artists, isn't going to be all that different from competition from neighboring booths in the "regular" section of the festival. And you'll get the experience of working a show all day/weekend/whatever, dealing with customers and looky-loos, other vendors, etc., to see if this is something you want (or even are able) to deal with, and what you could do to make it better in regards to display, lunch, etc. Sales might not be as high, but you aren't starting "in the red".

4. Re: location. Even paying for a regular booth, is no guarantee that you will have a great location. Some festivals pre-assign spaces, and may charge extra for prime locations, or give preference to "old timers"; for others, there is a "first come, first choice" policy (if so, try to get there early).


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