Art Fair Insiders

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

I just got my annual rejection from Cherry Creek and it got me thinking.  There is a problem in our business that effects many artists like me.

The last time I did Cherry Creek was 1992 (its second year).   I was 11 years into my art fair career and still showing tried and true photography,  That year I showed an ironic new image, that combined with a provocative title, caused people to see themselves in a whole new way.  My sales went up dramatically and I had my best show to that date at Cherry Creek.  

After that, I began to look for more image/title combinations and soon ironic turned to comic.  I became successful beyond my wildest dreams topping out a few years ago at Main Street; Fort Worth with a $21,000 show.  People come in my booth and chuckle constantly, then, before leaving, they say, "I love your sense of humor".

Well, 34 years into my career, my body of work has progressed to the point where what I do is very popular with patrons of art shows, but because of the restrictions of 10 second viewing by jurors I can't include my titles and even if I could they wouldn't have time to "get the joke".  A glance won't do it!  So, of late I'm getting more rejections because I'm jurying with my new work assuming shows want variety and diversity.  Wrong!  It seems to me, that shows want the same-old-same-old work every year.

The problem with the whole system, is that the entire jury process is disconnected from the buying of art.  Shows choose their jurors from the same pool every year.  The jurors are all from the pool of people who are "suppose" to know art.  NOT people who consume art.  So, the same artists (many great ones) populate the best shows year after year.  However, the public is denied the experience of seeing a greater variety of artists (many great ones).  

We all know the serious type of people shows recruit to their juries (e.g. Museum directors, gallery owners, artists and academicians).  I don't believe they take humor seriously!  

If you have four eye-popping images that take no thought to process you're in.  It's the same with judges at shows, they glance at a wall of work but consume none of it.

I know the people of Denver would love my work, but they will probably never get the chance to see it. 

An artist friend of mine thinks the best shows are commission shows, because the public votes with its dollars and the top sellers are invited back.

Something to think about.

Views: 3388

Comment by Robert Briscoe on February 2, 2015 at 10:47am

Hi Connie, I was surprised as well.  

Comment by Irina Busa on February 4, 2015 at 9:59am

There are several inherent problems with the jury process. A very large one is as mentioned is that The problem with the whole system, is that the entire jury process is disconnected from the buying of art“.

I asked my husband, Jack Busa, the director for ARTNADO 2015, for his opinion. His response was: “There are 3 types of juries. The first, employed by very high end art shows is the panel of experts used for vetting submissions, their criteria is authenticity and provenance. The next, and the one most artists are familiar with is the panel jury which reviews their submissions. The discussion has already exposed some of those problems, the least of which is having a person who judges artist who work in the same media as themselves. The last, and the only judge an artist is really concerned about is the patron or buying public.

The only way art shows can serve the artist is to understand there are 2 sides to the equation, what the artist wants in a show and what does the patrons want. This is an active part of our juring process and necessary to create a robust show to draw people who appreciate art. I do not want to burden the thread with any more concepts and methodologies however if anyone wants to discuss this or any other issues just e-mail me at or call me at 561-557-8741. Best of luck with your season”


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