Choosing the judges & passing out the prizes

8869173668?profile=originalDid the judges stop in your booth at that big show you just did? Did they look at your work or just pass by and you never saw them? How does an art fair assure everyone is seen and judged? What are the best ways to have a consistent and ethical judging process?

Listen to this podcast and learn from Rick Bryant, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts (State College), Sharon McAllister of ArtFest Fort Myers in Florida (with around 30 years of art fair experience8869173890?profile=original between them) and art fair industry advocate Les Slesnick who shares a system for fairness. 

How long does it take a judge to visit over 300 booths in a day? Listen and find out how to make your jury system work well for all and start planning for your next festival. Listen here at

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders


  • Roxanne, I started my art career in 1989 as a photographer. So if you want to just say I'm not a jeweler, then that'll be fine and you win. Really, what does it take to empathize with others, anyway?

  • My comment wasn't geared toward judges looking down on jewelers and photogs in the awards process, that's not been my experience. 

    What I have heard at numerous shows, are artists in other mediums commenting that photography isn't art and photogs are just printing money due to reproducability.  It usually comes from someone close to my booth after I've had a stellar show, so I take it with a grain of salt!   

  • Kara, good points -- it kind of depends on the quality of the event, plus what the show organizers tell the jurors to look for. The more upscale the event usually the more organized the judging is. I did this podcast to try to get show organizers to listen, to hear of an objective system that is being used and to hear what two influential show directors do with their shows. I'd guess you are talking about Sausalito. Did they publish in advance info about the judging? If not, a suggestion that they also listen to this podcast and make a more strategic plan for fairness and transparency.

  • Barrie, last year I took second place in a juried show with no categories.  But that is certainly an exception rather than the norm.  I suspect most jewelry artists (and photographers) would agree.  Since you are neither a jewelry artist or a photographer, I suspect you haven't been in our shoes.

  • Of all the shows I've done in my career I've never seen photogs and jewelers be stepchildren any more than any other medium. Everyone feels this way some of the time. Both photography and jewelry categories win plenty awards and both have won something in every show I've done. Sometimes photography and jewelry win multiple prizes in the shows.

    If a judge doesn't get into our booth and they are the judge for our category and they are paying attention, it's partly our fault for not having better work and a better presentation that draws them into the booth. It's our job to figure out how to create eye-catching and challenging work and often dynamic if not flamboyant displays of it. It's gotta have personality. If a judge fails to go into a booth, it's a guarantee plenty of the patrons aren't going in, either.

  • The fact that photographers and jewelers are looked down upon is exactly why they need to have categories if they are going to have awards.  If not, they should be giving us a discount on our booth fees because we are always the unwanted stepchild.

  • Jane, in that instance, I certainly don't think that's fair to jewelers and I know how tough a road you all already have.  In the beginning, I thought us photogs were the only bane of the art fair world.  I've heard numerous times how I'm able to just "print money"!

  • Barrie,

    Wow!  Thanks so much for the kind words!  I generally get two reactions to my photography; 1 - people love it and share how it speaks to them or 2 - people scrunch their faces at it, hahaha.  I am really flattered either way as I don't ever want people to be indifferent to my work. 

  • I saw someone who looked official come by my booth but I was talking to people. I'm not sure if they were judges. I was confused on how they divided ceramics was it sculptural and pottery vessels? Two categories or one? Although my pieces include ceramic glazes they aren't completely finished that way, I add a mix of medias to complete the finish. Would that jeopardize my opportunity to compete? To be honest I don't loose completions often. so when I do, I like to understand the grading scale. When I saw the winners although nice work, I was left confused in what way the judges arrived to their decisions. Difficulty, design, originality, or did they vote by their decorating preferences? I think it would help to have information from shows on what they are looking for.
  • Donald, the three spots for the judges does appear to be fair, but the reality is that for many booths they just initial the sign (or put their sticker on it) and walk on without ever going into the booth.  I don't know about other categories but with jewelry, most judges will not even walk into the booth unless your work is in glass cases. 

This reply was deleted.