Art Fair Insiders

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

Ive been an graphic and digital photographer for 29 years for an nuclear station. I'm retired and I now produce my own art and photography on canvas and framed. I would like to travel and attend different art and craft shows around the country. I do community service  in my city, and all of my art and photography is faith based. My art and photos have faith based scriptures on them and some of them with the name of Jesus on them. To those who have been out there for a while who have been accepted at different shows, will this hold me back by the committee from being pick, need honest input.

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Being a Christian, I would be drawn to your work because it is faith-based. However I am not sure how the juries would look upon it---if it would help or hinder your chances.

If you state your art is faith based, then go for it.  You never know unless you try.  Some juries are members of a community where as some are professional jurist so you never know what the outcome will be.

exceptional work would probably over shadow any faith base issue. dont blame non acceptance of crummy work on faith issues

Excellent answer!

If I could add my 2 cents... from experience, I don't see this type of art at shows. I think the biggest reason is because it "looks" super commercial. If I was next to an artist who took incredible photographs, I probably wouldn't even SEE that if it was covered with "Live, Laugh, Love"!

But then again, maybe the reason I don't see this is because nobody else tried. There is some business saying that goes like... if nobody is selling your idea it's because nobody tried it, or nobody buys it.

Hi Phil,

I hope I can add to the discussion and help guide you. I have been a working artist my whole life in many media. I've judged and juried a lot of shows in Florida. Your photos with words in a jury, actually has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with slapping words over artwork. Whether a photo or painting. You've now segued from fine art to commercial art. You might get into smaller shows or crafty ones, but not what I call the top 50 "A" shows. In a show I jury every few years, which is a very small one, they would move you into the Craft category. I recently juried a show where similar work came up with nice uplifting sayings, which we could barely make out actually. One juror called it Calendar art. Think gorgeous sunrise with "Make this your best day" kind of thing. It depends on what level of show you are shooting for.  Also, if you read through the threads, shows are rejecting all photography on canvas these days. I'm sure the long time photographers can chime in on that.  You can always apply and see what happens. There is no set rule. Every show is different. 

Thanks for the input Mindy.  I'm very interested in your comment "shows are rejecting all photography on canvas these days".  I am evaluating what type of art pieces that I will display at shows this year.  I was thinking of about 50% canvas (unframed) and 50% fine art paper (framed).  Is this more for unframed canvas photography art or any photography art on canvas?

I have been seeing this in the discussions on the FB page. Seems the better shows don't want canvas. You can bring it up and ask about it. The thread was probably removed as it wasn't directly related to reviews. I personally rank shows  A   B   C.  And then there are Fine Crafts Shows. You might take a look also on ZAPP show applications and see what many shows are doing. Your best advice will come from the Art Fair Reviews, Art Fair Insiders and Art Fair Review page. These are three separate pages on FB. Metal is very popular. Many photogs are going that route.

I agree that the work could be perceived as commercial. If you have religious themes as you describe, you may do better at events held at churches or other religious venues, where your customer base and potential collectors are likely to be. As far as applying to fine art events with it, it’s hard to say - but you might be tossing your jury fees into the wind.
Honest answer: it would be the same as someone’s art with quotes about Donald Trump, or any other form of propaganda and I would bet a penny that 99% of show directors are going to reject your booth.

They can find a dozen other digital artists/photographers that look good enough and save themselves any potential drama of sensitive people.

And... the art community is and will always be a liberal “anti-mainstream” bunch who pride themselves in being different and unique. The last thing they want is a quote from Jesus on a landscape. Sucks, but true.

You have to make it or break it on your art alone.

You could leave the quotes off, then direct patrons to your website if you sense they might enjoy that and offer your work with or without the quotes there.

I'll contribute a little more. Since it was brought up... there are a number of painters and sculptors that show faith based works. One I know of in particular is an excellent painter in Florida. She gets into the best shows and wins awards. There is no guesswork that a "cross" and other biblical symbols are prominently featured in her work. Jurors and judges tend to be very educated people, who have background and knowledge about the origins and history of art. Which is heavily based in the Bible. So don't think that is the reason work doesn't get accepted. I have juried and judged a lot of shows in Florida. Including the Disney Masters, TWICE. Again, typing words on photographs puts it into a commercial (think Hallmark) genre. There are many religious based shows. Way back when I was mostly 2-D I did a church show with my music themed art. Most of the other artists were religious stuff. It was music/religious celebration. There are venues for religious work. And, since mixing chemicals, checking temperatures, long hours in a darkroom, and doing your own printing is long gone, there is a ton of competition in photography. A TON!  

I've been doing a combination of poetry and photography, usually submitting it as 2D mixed media since I do the photography and use my own poetry. It's only gotten me into a few shows with that material. I sat in on the St. Louis Art Fair mock jury, and they pretty much tore it apart. Another time at another jury where I was present I could hear them discussing that work, and it was along the lines of "How the hell do we judge this?"

My advice is to submit your strongest stand-alone work for the jury, have your booth half conventional and the other half with the faith based work. The problem is that if you utilize scriptural work, that portion is not your work. Co-opting outside work like that gives the impression of a giant Hallmark card or at least looking overly commercialized. Initially keep work like that low key in your browse bin, or you run the risk of being asked to remove it due to the inclusion of work not your own. 

What may be a work-around is to take a similar tack as I've done and do the text as hand drawn calligraphy. You can scan it, and drop it into the image. As long as the lettering is yours, then you can legitimately go with the 2D Mixed Media approach, photography and calligraphy. No one says the handwriting has to be exquisite formal lettering :-)

You can go to my page and check out the photos I have there for some samples of that type of work. The ones that work better are arranged as a diptych with dual sloppy border panels. If it looks like a conventional photo with text dropped into the sky or a negative space, it's going to look too "Hallmarky" and you've just thrown away a jury fee.

Selling photographs even exceptional ones is difficult at art fairs.  Adding text just eliminates a large percentage of customers making it even harder.  It costs thousands of dollars to buy a tent and panels, hangers, etc. that are needed to do a show.  Almost everything has to be framed if they aren't allowing photos on canvas.  That can cost several thousands more.  Cheap popup tents just don't work well in bad weather.  A minor thunder storm will destroy a popup tent in seconds. 

With booth costs running from $300 to $600 plus and a tent rental costing $350, you still don't have a way to display your work.  Travel costs mount up fast.  Promoters will fill booth space with whoever applies if they don't have enough applicants.  I have been at shows with 35 photographers when other artists didn't apply, and I have seen shows with way to many people selling jewelry. 

If you can't see leaving your faith based messages off your art work, I would recommend smaller shows at churches.  It is easy to loose a lot of money trying to do art fairs.  You should start by going to any show within a few hours of your home.  Look at what is being sold and compare it to your work.  Your work has to be better than what you see.   Go both days and go late on the second day.  Talk to the artist selling your type of work.  A significant percentage of people at each show loose money and some don't sell anything.  You also have to be a good people person and salesman. 

Start at small shows and see if you like it.  Remember that anyone with a decent camera and a bit of experience can take their own high quality photos.


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