Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
We artists may be creative wonders but many of us suffer from a hopeless gambling addiction.
We gamble, against all odds, getting juried into the Grand-Poobah Big Shows across this fine land. We keep sending those jury fees just as surely as someone at a Las Vegas table continues to bet on the next hand being the big one.
But the odds either in Vegas or in Artland are against beating the house. Just think: Big Show A, where you might make enough dough to retire to a life of financial ease in a warm climate, has 40 available spaces and 4 million applicants. Okay, that's an exaggeration beyond belief, but you get the point. And the odds against you have become even steeper now that a lot of now out-of-work former suits see art shows as their way to beat the system, sort of like we already did.
There are so many of us now that we're about as easily interchangeable as AA batteries.
Humongous Show A rejects you yet again. You angrily vow never again to waste your money applying to this Great Event which unbelieveably has failed to recognize your valued contribution to the art world. But hold everything: Another year passes and the sting of rejection has faded. From somewhere deep within your soul, renewed hope percolates! And so you try just once more, still against all odds but much to the delight of Zapp and to the show. Perhaps this will be your year at last!
In this sense, we artists behave like the most most eternal optimists on earth. Like, I know a fine career artist who has been rejected for something like 25 consecutive years by one Very Large Show. He just keeps trying, God love him. I tell you, if he ever gets in I'll help celebrate by sending him a bottle of the most expensive tequila (now the official drink of outdoor art shows) one can buy.
You say: Hey Steve, don't take rejections personally. It's a diceroll. It's a crapshoot. It's someone else's instant judgment. True, and this is the deal we signed up for. But I talked to an artist the other day who lamented that even after 30 years in the business, the rejections still hurt.
We all have felt the pain. We have become experts at failure management.
Can you think of any other occupation where so much depends on such chance? That's why backing up Really Big Shows by applying to other shows on the same weekend has become an art form in itself. Sending to three or four concurrent summer events now seems the norm, just another cost of doing business.
We soldier on. Because, somehow, some way, being able to to this stuff for a living still beats a regular job, you know? That's my rationalization for the addiction and I'm sticking to it.
If you're new to the Outdoor Show Big Leagues and have been stunned by a string of rejections, trust me, you're not alone.
Last year, I also cut back several shows. Most were the spring and summer shows. It turned out to be a smart move with temperatures in the 90's and 100's and humidity hovering in the 90's starting in May, people were staying in their air conditioned prisons. Who would want to put their hand in a fur puppet with an internal temperature of 120 degrees or try on a fleece hat when sweat is pouring down your face? Yuck!
This year, I'll try something new. I'm adding some new, smaller, more inexpensive, one day shows at tourist hangouts. I like the idea of take the money and run. You just never know I may just hit the jackpot. At least I'm not going to lose a bunch of money on jury fees and inflated booth fees at a show with entirely too many artists.
At the end of last year, may sales starting improving nicely. I'm hoping this continues. This will be my 39th season. I'm not quitting yet, but when I do, I'm hoping it will with a bang not a fizzle.