Art Fair Insiders

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

So, I recently applied for my first big juried Craft Fair and waited for what seemed like an eternity for them to close the application process and let me know whether I was in or out.  In fact, I waited so long that I decided that I needed to make some money in the interim and I started exploring other retail options, even telling myself that I might just tell the Craft Fair Judges that I wouldn't be able to participate this year due to lack of merchandise.  As it turns out, one of the shops I signed with wouldn't let me remove anything for the show, so I was kind of stuck anyway.  

Having decided against doing the Craft Fair and saving myself $175 made me feel pretty confident going forward but then the email arrived in my inbox telling me that I hadn't made the cut, that they only had 100 spaces to fill and had received 288 applications and perhaps I could try again next year.  I wasn't prepared for rejection, in fact I was feeling pretty smug about my chances as I knew that no one else around here was doing what I was doing and I figured I was a shoe-in.

So, even though I had given up the idea of doing the show, not making it still stung me and I thought I'd pose this do you handle rejection?  How personally should one take it, does it make you gun shy the next time you apply for something or do you just shrug it off as their loss?

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If you let rejections get to you, you'll drive yourself crazy. Actually I know an artist who used to write letters to all the shows he got rejected from. Most told him to go for therapy before ever applying again.

It's part of doing business and the higher level of shows you apply to, the more rejections you'll get because the competition increases exponentially.

Larry Berman

Thanks, Larry...I know that over time my skin will get thicker but it still hurts a little now.

Even after 25 years, rejections sting a little!  You have to continue on and not take it personally, even though it is really hard!  Your work is unique and beautiful, it's their loss!  If that's a consignment store that won't allow you to take your work back if you need it, ask them to buy it in the future.  That's really not being fair to you.  You have to have a VERY thick skin in this business!  I switched mediums because of a show rejection that I was devastated by.  So they really did me a favor, even though it didn't feel like it at the time.

I doubt that there is a person on artfairinsiders that has never had some jury rejections...even when we all know without a doubt that our work is the absolute best and coolest thing since sliced bread....How could these jurors possibly have the nerve?

Rejection is never an easy pill to swallow but it is a fact of life and I would not let it concern you. Just think about the fact that it is their loss for not having you there and selecting someone else instead. Viewing work through our own eyes and our work being viewed through the eyes of a juror is a matter of personal taste...especially when they are not someone working in your medium.

You will get many acceptance emails and the rejections will become inconsequential.

Actually I'll bet there isn't a person doing art shows on a regular basis that hasn't had any rejections. It's part of doing business as an artist doing art shows.

Larry Berman

Disagreeing -- they always hurt ;( 

Thin skinned for life.

There are so many variables in every show selection.

The taste of the jury , the type of "show look" they are going for, the photos you select to be juried(you're only as good as your pictures) , how many spaces in each category they are  trying to fill, ,,to name a few.  Every show & jury is different . As Larry stated , the higher level shows are even harder to get in. 

It might sting for a second , after you've been doing shows for years,,,,but it's not for long . 

Rejection is part of the game. Your skin WILL get thicker . 

Our art is personal, to us,,,,,but to the jury , it is just another piece to jury . And they have so many things that they are trying to fulfill on their list . 

Just get back on the horse & keep going & keep learning .

If you take every rejection personally , you will never leave your house . 

Rejection actually builds strength & courage. 

You will definitely find what you are made of,while in the business of shows. 

My first year of really and truly doing art festivals seriously, I applied to six shows, figuring I needed a month in between to make inventory. Four applications were "pie in the sky" shows that I thought I had little chance of getting and one was a local show that I thought would be a good backup when I didn't get into the big shows.

The little local show rejected me. The big shows accepted my work. I remain baffled.

I still secretly and privately boycott the little show that said "no." (Yep, to this day, I refuse to apply again -- until I get really really hungry, maybe.) But everyone is right: you have to get over a rejection and move on and not stay hurt. I tell myself, it's not that someone did NOT like my work, it's just that there are so many talented and creative people applying, that there is a cut somewhere, and sometimes it's me.

Actors and actresses who are not stars have often said their real job is applying for roles and handling rejection, learning something each time. The odds are against any one actor getting the role against the 100s considered.

I find it helps me to look at the artists who DID get accepted, to admire their work, to compare it to what I do, to see how their work is photographed and learn from all that. I have never (with the exception of the "little local show") viewed any festival's accepted artists and disagreed with the chosen artists. I always think I can compete with them, but I can also appreciate how hard the jury must work to decide between such wonderful interpretations.

Rejection: Their loss not mine. ....... and they may not get my money again. 

This year I was accepted to a bunch of highly competitive art/craft shows and rejected by a local, one day Christmas Bazaar. I decided they were looking for more "funky gifty" items and shrugged it off. As others have said, rejections are part of the business. It is business, not personal. Usually, it works to your benefit in the long run.

At first, I cuss a bit and remind everyone around me what "beep beeping beepholes every beeping jury wannabe is". Repeat this process until the white straight jacket is completely zipped up.

Then I go about mentally justifying why it wouldn't have worked out, why the drive is too long, the booth fee, the hotels, I will probably be low on inventory because I will sell so much at the prior show.

Then, I will look at their website as to who got in, followed by spastic "what the beep is this beep". Then I look up some Berman articles about how to photograph my booth. Start new paintings with more of an edge to them. Start looking for timelines and ways to shoot new work and booth.

After two weeks or so, I'm actually motivated and working with a chip on my shoulder to make something better than what I have done before.

These are all great replies and each, so very true. So, Christina, it was not to be. That is how I deal with it...just not meant to be and that the universe has something more meaningful in store for me.

BTW, there is a wonderful little book out there in which famed ceramic sculptor, Arthur Gonzalez, has taken his rejection letters and turned them into little works of art by painting illustrations onto them that mockingly conveys his sentiments back to the letter-writers. It is appropriately called "The Art of Rejection", John Natsoulas Press, after an exhibition of these works entitled, "Sour Grapes". Now, these rejection letters of his are for much "bigger" stakes (grants, representation, professorships) but it shows that it stings just the same...small or large, it is an ego-buster. (Obviously, Gonzalez made some serious lemonade out of those lemons.)


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