Art Fair Insiders

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

Interesting mix of pleasure and frustration this week.

We just did a great show in Springfield, IL this weekend, AN ART AFFAIR, organized and promoted by artist Ed Martin, who has considerable experience as a participant, and thus carried out the most wonderful show experience for the artists.  I posted a review of the show.  This is an up and coming show and I highly recommend it for next year.  Finding a comfortable indoor show in April in Indiana and Illinois is wonderful!

On the other hand, I have applied for the 4th Street Art Fair in Bloomington, IN  which is held in the first part of September.  Years ago, while showing at a gem and mineral show in Bloomington, I was invited to apply, and periodically since then, I have applied.  Never gotten in.  So this year I upgraded my photos, and thought I'd give it another go.  Last week I got an email from them inviting applicants to come down for their open jurying.  I wrote back asking if they had a schedule of when which categories would be juried.  I was flabbergasted when I got the response.  They had 423 applicants this year, and proposed to give each applicant 15 seconds!  They hoped, best case scenario to be finished in less than 2 hours!!!!  My husband and I figured that they have about $10,000. in jury fees.  I'm seriously ticked off at this diminuation of the jurying process.  We work hard at our submissions, try to make good decisions as to what items to showcase for the jury, spend time and money to get the photos taken and pay the art fairs on average, $25. to look at the photos.  I can hardly fathom trying to jury over 400 artists' entries in less than 2 hours.  This kind of thing makes me feel sick.  The process is so artitrary to begin with, and then we get this kind of situation.  I probably won't try again for this show again since the possibility for being accepted is more like a gamble than an actual selection and I don't gamble with my business.  Hopefully I'll get this upset out of my system with this blog and move on to being my usual placid self!  Thanks for listening!

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Comment by Robert Wallis on April 18, 2012 at 9:35pm

Mine was the photography booth with the zig-zag Propanels. I went off and left the top support bars leaning against the wall in my garage. I had shots from New Orleans French Quarter. A stained glass guy was on one side and a painter was on the other side, and was maybe 4 or 5 booths up from the front wall. BTW, my wife estimated the crowd to be lower than my guesstimate. She places it around 300 attendees. I left a review in the Discussions column here.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on April 18, 2012 at 7:15pm

Sorry to hear that, Robert.  That can really kill the "niceness" right out of a show, for sure.  I walked around before the show began.  Which booth was yours? 

Comment by Robert Wallis on April 18, 2012 at 9:32am

Kathleen, I was at the Ed Martin show also. Unfortunately, my side of the hall had a different experience than yours. I made booth fee but not the other expenses. The artists next to me just broke even, and none were planning to return, as were the one further down. The facilty was nice, Ed was nice, but I doubt if more than 500 people attended the show. The large photo installation was from Galbo who sent hired help to staff the booth, so that wasn't cool.

The idea of the indoor show was good, but unless feet come through the door, it's not going to survive.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on April 17, 2012 at 8:30pm

MEA CULPA 4TH STREET COMMITTEE.  I totally misunderstood the whole situation and I apologize for blogging before getting your answer to my email.

Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on April 17, 2012 at 8:24pm

Thanks Charlene.  You are absolutely right about the public screening.  I also emailed the 4th Street Committee, and they responded, explaining essentially what you said.  The jurors are not even at the public screening.  They supply the jurors with the entries which they view at home and are encouraged to take their time over during a week.  

I see your dilemma, but it sounds like a win/win situation.  I'm sure you'll make the right choice.

Good luck!


Comment by Kathleen J. Clausen on April 17, 2012 at 1:01pm

Thanks, Mark, that makes me feel better!

Comment by mark Grosser on April 17, 2012 at 7:34am
I live in Indiana and I did this show several years ago I was highly disappointed in the quality and the show management . It is rated high in art fair source book because it is a committee of artists running the show and they send in high marks for the show . They have the locals set up garage sales right behind some of the artist. They have a craft fair and call it fine art you are not missing a thing by not doing this show . I'll never do it again

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