Rejections, Wait-Listings in 2012

I have encountered a situation that I'm not sure how to intrepret and I would appreciate hearing from others in regard to similar experiences, opinions, etc.

For the past couple of years I've been very fortunate in being accepted to most of the shows to which I have applied, some of which I thought I had very little chance of getting into.  I try to keep my work fresh and introduce new work when possible.  And, I feel my work has gotten better from year to year if for no other reason than more experience, exposure, etc.

However, it seems I am getting more rejections and wait-listings for 2012 than I've ever had before and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.  With the economic issues we've all seen, it seems there would be fewer applicants to shows and, thus, less competition but this doesn't seem to be the case.  Of course there are all the usual reasons why one isn't accepted to a show i.e. simply an inferior body of work; poor photos; large number of applicants in a particular category, etc., etc.  But, as I said, I feel my work has improved, my photos are every bit as good as they've ever been if not better and , as near as I can tell, there has been no significant change in the numbers of applicants in my category.

So, I'm simply having a hard time in pinpointing the problem.  I can only assume that I'm wrong and my work is getting worse instead of better.  I intend to step back, take some time away from shows and devote it to making some changes and improvements in my work, get some better photos  (pay attention Larry) and solicit opinions from you good folks.

I also have a real personal problem with the wait-listing issue.  To me, that simply says, "you're not good enough to be in our show but we're going to keep your name in the hat just in case we need it".  This is my own personal hang-up but I can't seem to change my thinking.  I would almost rather be rejected out-right than wait-listed.

I would appreciate hearing any ideas, thoughts, suggestions, comments any of you might have on these issues.  And I would be interested in hearing from anyone who is having a similar problem with 2012 and what you think the reasons might be.




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  • Good point, Al.  Thanks for your input.

  • I find it hard to believe that after several years of successful entries, that you suddenly forgot how to do it right. Nearly all wait-listings have nothing to do with your work or quality of your entry. So put that out of your mind. Think in terms of how are you going to compensate for the increase in entry numbers due to the economy and the ease of dumping three to five entries in the works for every week. If every good artist enters three shows each week, the organizers feel that there are three times as many artists applying for shows. This leads them to follow the urge to rotate the artists each year. That means that even the best artists are three times as likely to to be wait-listed. In the flash-card  fast viewing of the photo-shopped images. the jurors are not judging the quality of your work. The jurors are like impulse buyers in a mall. Take advantage of that when planning your images. Just keep on doing art for the art and doing images for the jurors.

  • My Blog stirred up a lot more conversation that I thought it would and I'd just like to thank everyone for your input.  You've made some very good points and have given me some things to think about.  I suppose that the real key is to find the shows (or type shows) in which you do the best and concentrate on those.  Unfortunately, the search for the "right" shows can cost a fortune as you all know but, I suppose we all have to keep searching and simply doing the best we can.  And, at the same time, we have to consider all the things we've been talking about such as photos, etc., etc.  Anyway, I thank all of you for your comments and I wish all of you a magnificent year in 2012.  Merry Christmas to you all.

  • The only way to insure getting into a festival is to win an award previous year (hopefully you get an automatic in the next year)  I know of an artist that got waitlisted into a festival and came in second in his category.  We're dealing with humans, and they are unpredictable.

  • And before I catch more cr*p about a comment I made.   I do not believe ALL art fair artists are overpriced in the Madison Fair - just some that I see displaying pieces that are nothing special that almost anybody can do.  It's a lot of work doing Art Fairs (more then 90% of the population understand)  but you still need have something special before you can charge $500 for something which is not always the case.  

  • Don, don't beat yourself up.  I agree with some of the others that show directors may be changing up artists to keep their show fresh.  I know that doesn't help you out.  Just keep applying to shows.  Apply to some new ones.  Maybe you will be one of the artists that get into a great show because the director was changing things up.

     I don't think it means that your work is getting worse.  Wait lists don't mean a death sentence for your work.  It depends all on the jury and their opinions.  On a different day you may have made it.  Think positively about the wait list.  To me a wait list means you almost made it, not that your work is no good.  It means you beat all the many artists that didn't get wait listed, and that could be a very large number of artists that you beat.  Plus, if they call you   to take someone's spot, look at that as getting your foot in the door, not that you were the second choice.  Who cares how you got in, you got in! 

    Well, I hope you feel batter about things and don't give up.  Get out there and find some new shows to apply to.  Who knows, you may really like the change yourself.

    Jacki B

  • this cheesehead does not remember any let them eat cake post and frankly that would not make any sense anyway. sorry I'm not part of your cool guy group and I should only post with us hicks in the up here in da nort.
  • Lol all u want up in wisconsin, you do not have a clue about what is going on in the art show world. Your let them eat cake post is ignorant and insulting.
  • Yep, Don...I could have written nearly the same post you did!  Part of the reason my batting average is lower this year, my fifth in the business, is that (based on coaching from folks who have been in the biz a combined bazillion years, and counting) I've narrowed my market, raised my prices, and stopped applying to most second-tier shows, and all third-tier ones.  And it's causing some short-term pain, as I've not made it into any shows in Naples past Thanksgiving, and it's my best market.  But in the long run, I've gotta trust it will pay off.  Like you, I want to keep my work fresh, hopefully better, and keep raising the bar. 

  • Don - my suggestion would be to not take the wait list concept personally.  I've been doing shows for 9 years and the first time I got called off a wait list (2 days before show setup!), I went and had my best show ever!  It still remains my second best in terms of sales.  This year, the one call I had off the wait list was my second best show this year. 

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