I am probably in a minority on this board, a member who is both an artist traveling the show circuit for 11 years and a director of a fine art show, An Occasion for the Arts (AOFTA), held in October in historic Williamsburg, VA.  We are a show that uses Zapplication.org (Zapp) to manage our artists’ applications and jury processes.

The purpose of this article is to share a few thoughts for artists to consider when using the Zapp system. With over 650 art shows using Zapp, artists applying to multiple shows will interact with the Zapp system.  It is unavoidable.

Most organizers only use the Zapp system at the beginning stages of the process.  

  • Collect artist information and artwork
  • Manage the jury process
  • Communicate with artists who have applied
  • The Zapp system also provides an enterprise solution for selling products: booth spaces, lunches, etc. though not all shows use this. 

In other words, most of Zapp collected data must be downloaded and brought into a show’s workflow outside of the Zapp system: e.g. in Excel or like us, using a custom database. The saying garbage in, garbage out rings very true.  Here are a few confusions that have been encountered when working with artist’s data:

1) Who am I, an Artist, a Collaborator or an Associate?

Three types of people are distinguished in Zapp data structure but there seems to be confusion among artists and some show organizers:

  • Artist: the individual who creates the art
  • Collaborator: the individual who creates the art in collaboration with the artist… in other words, two artists in partnership
  • Associate: a person who helps the artists but does not create the art…they might manage the business, help sell at shows, or maybe even mat and frame artwork


You can only be one or the other, either you’re the artist or the collaborator. It is amazing how many artists put their name as both artists and collaborator.  The problem is when listing artists for nametags, lists for publications, etc., the artist name gets printed twice and needs to be manually corrected.

I also realize that some art shows are at fault - many only list the artist name in their promotion and not the collaborator.  To work around this, some artists list both the artists name and the collaborator in one field and leave the collaborator fields blank.  This is also a problem and requires manual editing when printing nametags and publishing various reports. It is important to use the Zapp system the way it’s created!

2) All CAPS; all lower case; and SomeThing in the MiDdLe

Please capitalized those letters that need it and don't use all CAPS or all lower case. In order for a show to produce: name tags, reports, lists for publications, booth plaques, etc., etc., artist’s information needs to be downloaded from Zapp and brought into the show’s administrative workflow. What this means is a show has to correct the data every single time they want to use downloaded data or the publication looks like crap. About 10% of the applications that I get are downloaded with this type case problem. For a show that has a 1000 applications, that’s 100 applications where each inconsistency must be manually corrected. Yes, it definitely gets you noticed but not in a good way.

3) Creating multiple profiles to submit multiple applications

In the early years of Zapp, an artist would need to create multiple profiles if they wanted to submit applications for different categories within the same show (e.g. pottery and sculpture). That is no longer the case; most shows now allow multiple applications by the same artist. In other words, you can submit multiple applications using one profile. That said, you must pay attention to the rules of the show; many shows will allow for multiple applications but only one per category.

Several artists submit multiple applications using different profiles within Zapp - please do not do this.  For shows Like An Occasion for the Arts, which keep a history of artist’s participation over years, this creates multiple accounts for the same artist and mucks things up - often results in multiple mails going to the same artist. It is better to have one artist profile in Zapp and submit multiple applications to a show from that one account… that is if the show allows multiple applications.

4) Presentation Counts

The narrow gate that you must pass to get into a show is the jury process. You can have fantastic art but if you present it poorly before the jurors, you will not be accepted… the process is competitive, even for a mid-sized show like us.

A significant number of artists compromise their jury presentation. Booth shots are taken with smart phones at shows and are cluttered, in poor light and often with people in the booth; artwork is presented often out of focus and with uneven light or distracting items included in the image.  Don’t compromise here; have your work photographed by a professional if you are not a photographer. Yes, it can be costly but it makes a significant difference. 


5) To add black borders  or to not add black borders, that is the question?

In the help section on the Zapp site, it seems that adding black borders to make your image a 1920 pixel square is no longer necessary. From the help section:

1)   Black borders are no longer required. A majority of the events using ZAPP® jury using the monitor method, which displays artists' images on a black background. The system will automatically add black borders to images that are submitted to events using the projected jury method.


2)   Recommended Dimensions: 1920 pixels on the longest side.
Note: To assist artists who do not have images that are 1920 pixels or larger, the system will also accept images that are at least 1400 pixels on the longest side.

The problem is once an image is uploaded to your profile, you will probably submit it to shows that use projected jury method and those that use a monitor method. On a projected jury, Zapp will take your image and convert it a 1920 pixel square by add the black borders and then re-saving as a jpg.  This will result in some lost of detail.  As a photographer, I don’t want Zapp to mess with my image. I spend a great deal of time insuring that it is exactly as I want it (correct sharpening, white balance, etc) before uploading. I encourage you to do the same; upload your image so it is a 1920 pixel square with black borders added on the shortest sides.

By all means, do not upload an image that is smaller than 1920 pixels even if the system allows a 1400 pixels image.  For projected juries, the Zapp system will convert the small image to 1920 pixel by adding black borders to all four sides of the image to insure consistency. The result is your image will appear much smaller to a juror than images from artist who uploaded the proper size 1920. Here is an example of what your image will look like once converted (not to your advantage):

In closing the Zapplication system is here to stay and overall it is fantastic. No more sending slides with red dots and arrows, woo-hoo. The Zapp organization is good, continually improving its systems and supporting its customers. But as artists, you do need to pay attention to a few things when using the system and this will certainly assist everyone involved. I hope this is helps.


About the Author: Leo Charette is fine art photographer who has shown his work at more than 100 different art shows across the country.

About An Occasion for the Arts:  Since 1969, An Occasion For The Arts has been held on the first weekend of October in the heart of historic downtown Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg is the home of the College of William & Mary with an affluent alumni base residing in the area. It is also a top tourism and retirement destination.  Application deadline is April 30th and the show’s application can be found on Zapp by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/aofta_prospectus


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  • Don't you jes' love the new business model?  The business sets the rules for the paying client.   The worst part of all this is that the people. artists in this case. are falling in line.   Business is only reliable when it is customer/clent needs driven....not the other way around.    

    Zapp doesn't want to spend the time, and effort to modify its system, it wants the users to modify!   How very 'tech' of them.

  • I have to wonder why zapp even suggests artists not configure their images to 1920 square with black borders? This wouldn't even be an issue if they didn't suggest otherwise. I've always done the 1920 square for the reasons you've mentioned. But it's ridiculous that zapp suggests otherwise.

    Regarding collaborators.... My wife and I enter shows as collaborators. I can't tell you how many shows never recognize this. Her name is listed and mine is not 9 times out of 10. We have used the system appropriately, too. One show blamed me for how I listed myself in the zapp system even though I have done it correctly as a collaborator and selected the TEAM button. So this helpful hint you give herewith needs to also be sent to zapp and to the 650 shows if you haven't already done that. I'm not kidding. They overlook collaborators. Thanks for not overlooking collaborators, Leo.

    But I thank you kindly for considering artists as you are doing. WOOHOO!

  •  Hi Leo,

    Great tips. For years I've been telling artists that they need to maintain the 1920 square (with black borders masking rectangular images) format so their images aren't degraded when applying to shows that project the images. And uploading 1400 images result in small images when seen by the jurors when projected. It's nice to hear it from someone else because artists have gotten tired of my rants.

    Larry Berman

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