Art Fair Insiders

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

I write this paper to receive advice and to share what has happened to me at some of the Arts and Craft festivals recently. I am a woodworker who makes what I believe are fine pieces of furniture. At many shows now awards are given and a judge or a team of judges comes and visits your booth. These people are suppose to be some kind of expert in some craft.
The problem comes when at the last show I was at, of the 5 judges walking past some two hundred artist's, only one stopped to say he had just come back from visiting a famous furnituemakers workshop. ( he is a writer)
That's all I can remember him saying. One judge just said "I like your walls."
My beef or comment is if you are going be a judge at a show with a variety of mediums at least do some back ground on the mediums you are not familiar with so you can at least know what to look for.
Just to look at a piece and say that is nice and not know how it was put together, what techniques were used etc makes it really hard to say "hey" that is a fine piece and is worth an award or some recognition.

I have been fortunate to have won some blue ribbons, a first and a fourth at shows over the last 6 years.
Of course the best judges are the people at the show,when they buy your pieces. They recognize your talent and know the piece they brought from you will become an heirloom.

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Andy, I am a woodworker also and have noticed the same scenario....not only in wood but in all mediums. Many artists have said, and I agree, that it is difficult to put any value on a judge that has no background or knowledge about every medium they are judging. It boils down to their personal taste and absolutely nothing else.

It is easy to spot when a judge comes into your booth since they are usually taking some notes and writing down their comments. Some judges will talk with us, others will not say a word and then there are times when my wife and I have commented that we do not even recall seeing a judge stop at our booth at all...

This is a pet peeve of mine!  I'd say at 3/4 of the shows I do (about 24 per year) we don't even see the judge or judges.  It is the rare show that the judge comes in to my booth, introduces himself/herself and asks an intelligent question or comment.  It leaves me to believe they know nothing about my medium or they are totally disinterested.  I agree with you Andy, any judge that has accepted the job of judging an art fair should, at the very least, know the basics about every medium he/she is judging.  They owe us that much.  After all, we are paying high jury/booth fees to pay these judges and some are giving awards to b/s.  They are not doing their job of educating themselves on our mediums.  It is unconscionable!

I too have won best of catagory and best of show awards. The only ones I cared about were those that had cash behind them and/or grandfathering into next show. I accept that most judges don't have a clue about my medium and they have not done any homework. Getting into shows is more important to me than another ribbon. I did not see that they made any more sales for me. Besides, what do you do with a box of ribbons anyways? I have always written a post show letter thanking the sponsor of the award. Don't overlook this.


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