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To Zapp or Not to Zapp, that is the question . . .

We have been promoting shows in New Jersey for 30 years. Approximately four years ago, we explored going with Zap as two other promoters who have shows in New Jersey had done (Artrider and Sugarloaf). Aside from the cost to us, we had input from some of our exhibitors that, at times, it led to some complications so we put it off.

We are once again thinking about whether or not we should go with Zapp. This forum seemed to us to be the ideal place to get input from you, the exhibitors.

So - to Zapp or not to Zapp - that is the question.

Janet and Howard Rose
Rose Squared Productions, Inc.

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Hi Janet,

Give me a call and I'll give you all the pros and cons of both ZAPP and JAS. From a show director's point of view you also have Entry Thingy as an option.

Larry Berman

We have been using EntryThingy (which lets you control your options) for 2 years and find it very cost effective and loaded with additional features.

Some of the items we use and like are the:

1. Multiple payment options

2. Paper applications available as an option

3. Download all data and images to your system at anytime

4. Image Galleries for your website and jury projection, etc., at very little or no cost depending on use.

5. Videos which help you, the show director, and also help the artists/craft persons learn the system.

6. The system uses the latest "Cloud" technologies.


Barry Witt

Bonita Springs National Art Festivals



Thanks for the great advice. We will check it out and see if it works for us. We will be in Florida next winter and will try to come to one of your shows. Howard
Greetings Janet and Howard,

We know that you have several options available when deciding which online application and adjudication system to use, and I heartily suggest that you explore all of them to determine which will be the best fit for your events.

ZAPP® serves more than 400 events nationwide, and more than 60,000 artists use the system to apply to events. In addition to offering multiple payment options, intuitive design, functionality, and outstanding customer support, we also offer exemplary security and increased exposure for your event. ZAPP® is owned and overseen by a partnership of eight prominent arts festivals and organizations, and is managed by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a regional non-profit arts service organization leading the field in the development of web-based technologies.

If you are interested in re-examining the system we are happy to arrange a demonstration at your convenience--four years is quite some time since you last explored the system and we constantly make improvements and update the system based on user feedback.

Good luck in your decision!
Leah and the ZAPP® team

I feel the ZAPP process is so unfair to the artist.  I have applied to several shows with all rejections and 1 wait list.  I did the wait listed show.  It was the most difficult show I have ever done and I never even met the promoter.  I don't know where they get their jurors, but my work just doesn't fit in.  In one case, I was told my work got high marks but I received low marks on my booth photo.  The colorful floor was a problem.  I researched another show, and decided that my work would fit beautifully.  Nope, flat out rejection.  I question how much time is spent in looking at each artists work and if, once they have their quota, do they even bother to view the rest?  Anyway, I tried ZAPP for two years and decided it was not for me.  I work too hard to just throw my money away.  I will never do a show through ZAPP or JAS again. 

I can see that you spend so much time choosing your artists and you include such a terrific variety of well made, creative work.   You truly know what you are getting and you do a wonderful job.  I speak very highly of you always and recommend your shows to anyone who does quality work, as well as encouraging customers to your shows.  I recommended the Westfield Show to many and had quite a few coming to finish their shopping.  I had very high hopes.  Darn that weather.  I am one of many who appreciate all that you do.  

Hi Jacquelyn,

We are sorry to hear that you have not had much luck with the events you've applied to using ZAPP®. As you likely know, ZAPP® is the software solution events use to collect applications but the decisions of which artists to invite are made by the events and their jurors.

It's great to hear that you put a lot of effort into researching shows and markets to determine which events your work will do well in. Have you tried contacting any of the events you did not get into for further feedback? In our experience, many event administrators are more than willing to provide feedback or juror scores and comments––information which may be helpful to you in improving your application images and jury results.

Several events also host open jury processes. You may want to see if any shows near you do an open jury process so you can see what the competition is like! Additionally, in the coming months, ZAPP® will be co-sponsoring several image workshops with shows throughout the country. The goal of these workshops is to help artists improve both their jury images and their odds of getting into shows. Perhaps a workshop like this would interest you?

I hope that you find some of this information helpful and that you won't give up on getting into more of the shows you really want to do. We hope you will give the shows using ZAPP® another chance, but regardless wish you the best of luck with your upcoming show season!

Leah, Manager of ZAPP®

Jacquelyn, I've used ZAPP as long as I've been doing shows. Granted, I've been doing them for just over 8 years now. But it is so far superior to the old way of using slides that I can't even begin to compare.

When you say ZAPP is unfair to the artist, you only offer proof based on your rejections and one show that you did poorly at. 

For shows that are projected, the jurors get so many applications that they only spend a limited amount of time winnowing out the first selection. Those that jury off-site, using the jurists' own equipment are less hampered when it comes to time, but if a show has 1500 entrants, you can see that the amount of time allotted to each artist by necessity must be short.

As an artist, if you decide not to use ZAPP, you definitely eliminate a very large and growing pool of shows that you will not be eligible for. Most of the majors have used ZAPP for five or more years.

Craft shows, and smaller local shows are a different story. Since they aren't catering to a national pool of artists, they tend to use Juried Art Services or Entry Thingie. Cost of jurying via Entry Thingie is less than ZAPP. 

Howard and Janet, if you have not spoken with Larry, he has a very good handle on the pros and cons of all three systems, both from the viewpoint of the artist and the show organizer.

Personally, I prefer ZAPP. I do national shows, and the amount of work I need to do to apply via ZAPP is much less than the old-fashioned method of sending in slides. Matter of fact, I don't think I've applied to any shows that wanted slides in the past three or four years. One of the sources that used to provide jury slides from digital images no longer provides that service. Sending images via CD can be as good, but puts the onus of collating the jury materials on the backs of the promoter. Almost as bad as using slides, just digital.

My acceptance rate for the shows that I apply to is about 50%. I have a harder time cracking the big national shows. I think it's primarily a numbers game -- see my recent post on Winter Park to get an idea of the ratio of accepted artists to applications in each medium. The more artists that apply, the harder it is to jury. Those shows that break down the jury system into media category to avoid burnout do their jurors a big favor. I wouldn't want to look through 1500 sets of images in two days in a darkened room. Can you say burnout?

Anyway, that's my two cents.

I'm going to disagree in that, though virtually every show is now jurying using digital images, what ZAPP (and JAS) has brought to the table is a predictable way the jurors see the images. ZAPP projection jurying, ZAPP monitor jurying, JAS jurying and shows not using a standardized system are all different. But understanding the differences can help you better choose a presentation that matches how the jurors will view the images for the shows you apply to.

I've always offered to free jury image evaluations. I don't judge the artwork, but I do evaluate the presentation on how well each image appears to the jurors.

Larry Berman

Hi Janet, two quick comments:

First, it's great to see promoters occasionally writing and responding to a post on AFI!

Second, speaking as an photographer artist who does both local and regional/national shows near and far from my home, in Florida, I confess to a bias toward e-jury systems over prepping a CD. The time savings of online submission vs. filling out a form in longhand are paramount, but there's more: because so many "CD shows" don't do a good job of specifying their image requirements, I spend extra time seeking clarification from show directors, then I have to spend even more time custom-sizing the image.   
I'm a little more tolerant in the case of local volunteer-run shows that may have limited resources and don't want to retrain their folks on software every year.  I get it.  But for a promoter seeking applicants from a wider net, and that wish to brand themselves as middle-upper to upper-tier in quality, IMHO it's time to make the leap into e-jurying.  Best of luck, and hope to see you again this coming summer!

Just for the record, the show that I was accepted into was the best show I have done, monetarily.  It was the worst for load in, load out, a long drive, and no personal interaction with the promoter.  Who ever they were.  To me it's more than just money. 

Also, there is so much competition for a space with artists applying to so many shows on the same weekend.  It's crazy, in my opinion.  I will not pay a few hundred dollars for someone else to fix my photos to be more appealing to jurors every year, so I can spend a few hundred dollars in jury fees along with the rest of the artists hoping that I get a chance to be in the big show.  It takes me so little time to make up a CD of my new work every year and the applications are a breeze.  I don't get it.  What's so hard about applying to shows.  Maybe it's because I only apply to one show on any particular weekend. 

My work is mostly for children and the big shows don't want my work.  I don't fit into the mold.

As an artist that has used Zapp, Entry thingy and JAS, I find ZAPP to be the most user friendly for the artist, and easiest to use.

I am not blaming ZAPP.  It's the shows that use ZAPP.  I have never been rejected until I started applying to shows that used ZAPP.  Why?  Is it the jurors they use, the increase of artists applying, is it the theme of the show?  When I asked one show that rejected me, the reply was you scored high marks on your work but the booth floor was not suitable.  It seems like they want every booth to look like a gallery.  I make puppets.  Many puppets and each one is one of a kind.  I need to display them all.  My floor is soft so children don't break a bone when they fall down in my booth.  I will not change my floor.  I know where I do well and if I can't be accepted into shows that use ZAPP so be it.  I here people complain all the time on this site that they get so many rejections from these shows and that they apply to so many on a given weekend and have to either choose if they get into 2 but mostly I read about the rejections.  That is until someone complains about ZAPP shows.  Then everyone is behind the system because it's so much easier to apply.  I don't mind the small amount of extra work applying. Since I stopped applying through ZAPP, I have not been rejected to any show.  That's a good thing.


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