Art Fair Insiders

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

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In my recent post, I told the story of applying to an art show and having the director take it upon himself to switch my category.  No one mentioned this in the follow-up comments and I am wondering what you all think of it?  

Has it happened to you? 

If it did, how would you feel? 

Would you feel entitled to a refund? 

Would you ask for it?

If you got no response would you be surprised?  (When customers send me a payment I answer their missives).

If you missed it, here it is:

I recently sent a $25 jury fee to The Des Moines Arts Festival through Zapplication and went off on a road trip to do shows in Memphis and Pensacola.  When I got home and caught-up on my email, I found  one from Stephen King the director of The Des Moines Arts show.  In it, he said he thought my digital photography should be moved from the photography category to the mixed media category.  The email said if I agreed I should respond by a certain date.  The date was long past.  So, I thought, since I had not responded, at least my application would be juried in the right category.  Right?

Not so.

On my next visit to Zapp, I found my category had been changed to Mixed Media!  Then I got an email from the show giving the statistics of the applications.  In photography there were approximately 100 applications.  In mixed media there were over 150.  Needless to say, I recently got my “Dear John” letter from Mr. King.

What did I get for $25?

 Back in November when I got Mr. Kings email, I replied that I thought he should put me back in the right category and that his email intimated I wouldn’t be switched without my permission.  Recently, I emailed him asking for my jury fee back “ for cause”.  I didn’t get a reply back then and I don’t expect I will now.

Update:  Still haven't heard from Mr. King.

 

Views: 1076

Comment by Larry Berman on December 20, 2012 at 7:07am

I hate these discussions.

Let me phrase that differently. I hate when show directors do not understand the definitions of the mediums they are asking for, and do not have the foresight to ask anyone with more knowledge than they have. And lets not even go into how much respect they have for our jury images. I realize that they might have the right to recatagorize our applications based on what they think our medium actually is if we make a mistake in the application, but if you've defined your images and artist statement properly, it's clearly a traditional photograpic process.

I would contact ZAPP and discuss the issue. The phone number is 888-562-7232.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100



Comment by Alison Thomas on December 20, 2012 at 8:55am

I call it category hell and looking at your images I think you are in the same place I am RC.  I've had shows want me to switch from photography to digital art and shows want to switch me from digital art to photography.  However, the only time I had a show want me in the mixed media category was when they had no photography category.

Comment by Maureen Riley on December 20, 2012 at 12:01pm

At the risk of a protracted lambasting, which seems to be the norm when a Show Director comments on this site, I want to share my reaction to RC's post.  I am doing this as a follow-up to the podcast I participated in recently and because I think it's important to help artists understand the jury process.  I DO NOT speak for Steven or the Des Moines Art Festival.

 

RC, what I read into your post is that you think that your odds were better for getting juried into the show if you had been in photography with 100 applicants instead of the 150 that were in mixed media, and because you didn't get in under MM, your money should be refunded.  Again, let me stress that I am not speaking for Des Moines, only the A2 Street Art Fair.  If the work is going to get into the show....it's going to get into the show regardless of the medium it's juried under.  3D mixed media and sculpture are two other mediums where the line is very blurry.  Artists often call and ask where they should apply for better odds of getting in.  My answer is always the same....it doesn't matter...if the work is going to be accepted, it's going to be accepted in either category.

 

I also want to point out another part of this equation that wasn’t revealed....the number of accepted artists per medium.  We target a higher number of mixed media artists than photographers because MM work is so broad and therefore does not overpower the show.  So, even though there were more applicants in MM, your odds of getting in could actually have been better.  I don’t know that....I’m just saying don’t rush to conclusions.

 

Please note that I used the word “target” above.  As I spoke about in the podcast, we have a target number of spaces per medium, but if the submissions don't measure up to our standards, we don't accept artists just to meet a quota.  On the other hand, if the work in a given medium is exceptional, we will increase the number of accepted artists in that medium.   You would never be able to calculate the exact odds of being accepted in advance.


In the original thread, someone suggested that knowing the criteria they are being judged on would be helpful.  Read the prospectus!  We clearly state what we judge on.  You should also look at the event's website.  Most of us have artist directories with images.  You can tell a lot about a show by looking at the exhibitors from previous years.  If the show doesn't look like a good fit for you....don't apply! Also, look at the mission of the host organization.  If they are a non-profit arts and cultural organization you can pretty much rest assured we are not out to take advantage of you.  We do this to support your efforts to make a living.  I’m sure there are unscrupulous show directors out there, just like there are unscrupulous artists, but please don’t lump us all into that category.  Most of us are just gettin' by....just like you.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Comment by Tara Skelton on December 20, 2012 at 12:50pm

I sell cocolate and nuts at events mostly inTX, so I don't have a pony in this race. Excuse me if I am wrong, but isn't the real issue here that his application was changed without his permission and now the director will not even respond to questions?  This just seems really unprofessional.  Is he so embarrased at his mistake that he is now compounding the problem?.  Not a show I would want to apply for if I was an artist.

- Tara

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 20, 2012 at 1:34pm

Mo, as I read R.C.'s post he was objecting to being moved to Mixed Media, when he specifically wanted to be in digital. I know his work, it is definitely photography. He would never try to get past a jury by choosing Mixed Media to have a better chance of being accepted. He is proud of being a photographer and would never consider his work Mixed Media.

Comment by Maureen Riley on December 20, 2012 at 1:56pm

I didn't mean to imply that I thought RC was doing that....my apologies if it came off that way.  I have to ask though, had you been accepted in Mixed Media, RC, would this conversation be taking place?

My intent was to assuage artist's concerns about the category designation, as I believe that it has little bearing on the outcome.

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 20, 2012 at 3:23pm

I'm with you on that, Mo, and thank you for pointing that out. I only wanted to make sure we were on the same page on the issue, not that you were inferring nefarious tactics on a humble artist ;)

But I do take your point, what if he had been accepted in Mixed Media ... interesting to ponder.

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on December 20, 2012 at 8:46pm

If I had been accepted into mixed media, I wouldn't have complained, why would I?  But, I'd be surprised by a show who would accept me into the wrong category.  I want to be juried by qualified people (not sure Mr. King is one of those), against other photographers on a level playing field.  What's fair about comparing my photography with artist who specialize in mixing media?

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on December 20, 2012 at 8:58pm

Maureen, as a working artist doing shows for 31 years, I do not believe the following statement to be true:

 "If the work is going to get into the show....it's going to get into the show regardless of the medium it's juried under.  3D mixed media and sculpture are two other mediums where the line is very blurry.  Artists often call and ask where they should apply for better odds of getting in.  My answer is always the same....it doesn't matter...if the work is going to be accepted, it's going to be accepted in either category."

 

Connie, do you believe that is true?

Comment by Larry Berman on December 20, 2012 at 9:08pm

Sounds like question #57 from the show director's handbook of the hundred most asked questions and responses that artists are most likely to believe.

Larry Berman

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