Art Fair Insiders

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

Staged Booth Photos and the Jury Process - well why do you take them and why weight them so highly?

I have been wanting to have event promoters discuss this topic for quite some time, but never got around to posting it: Why do juried events accept STAGED (FAKE) BOOTH IMAGES for evaluation purposes and then weight them so highly?

Truth is, most on site booth set-ups do not resemble the submitted jury images. They do NOT usually show browse bins, density of merchandise marketed for sale, signage in use at the show, and that often many exhibitors move their displays outside the boundaries of their booths. They may even show prints of originals staged as originals when the original was sold long ago. Juries already accept works for evaluation which are no longer in the artist's inventory and may be 10 or more years old - not reflecting the work which the artist currently does....

Why not require CURRENT (within the last 12 months) booth shots which are actually obtained at events to show what an exhibitors set-up REALLY looks like...warts and all.

Juries will have to acknowledge that they are live shots and not optimized for being pretty. Most exhibitor booths are not pristine, nor exhibit the Spartan emptiness which juries seem to adore. They may need to weight them less heavily to reflect the reality of so many situations 

Most booths are filled with as much product as possible in order to hopefully have items which might appeal to a customer.

CAVEAT - there are some higher end painters and others who do often only display 15-20 pieces in their booths... BUT often they are set up where you cannot see the interior of the display because of the zig-zag walls and mini-maze set-up used to display their work.......... But some of these also have non-show booth jury shots that don't reflect the rather claustrophobic actual booth conditions.

An artist who submits an actual at-the-show-booth-image is often penalized because it reflects reality.

Meanwhile, there are those in the art community who have created a separate revenue stream by offering booth shot creation and post-processing services. Some of these providers appear to have insinuated themselves into the jury advisory process... which gives the appearance of perpetuating the use and preferred acceptance of fake booth photos.

While I admire these folks for their revenue creation efforts, the truth is that those who doing this as a service are enabling a dishonest practice if their clients are not going into a show and setting up their displays in the same way that the images are submitted. And the juries are not being backed up by the show personnel actually going to confirm that the booth looks like the jury image.

If shows have a preference for this Spartan display look which maximizes the booth space and not the amount of product, then they need to be more specific in their jury criteria. In any event, juries need to require actual set-up images for evaluation of perhaps they should scrap the fake booth jury image altogether.

Let the firestorm begin........ I'm wearing my leopard skin print Nomex outfit.....

Views: 3945

Comment by Wendy Merkle on August 3, 2015 at 7:56pm

I feel the same way about many people's profile pictures.

Comment by Darlene Troyer on August 3, 2015 at 9:26pm

Thank you Mark, I've thought this for a long time!

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on August 3, 2015 at 10:01pm

No, I think you are making more out of this than happens in reality. Artists should simplify their booth images so that judges can see the main body of work quickly without distractions. I've never used a mock booth shot and my booth looks so similar to my booth shot it's uncanny. And I'm a high end artist showing from 10 to 15 works. I know some other high end artists who are big award winners all over the country and their booth shots look kinda bad due to the construction of the walls. They still get in the shows and win the big awards. I also know other high enders who have nice booth shots.

I don't think there are as many folks doing mock booth shots as you think are out there. I've reviewed plenty of show websites that actually show the four jury images for everyone in the show, and when you see the majority of the booth shots you can tell that they were done at a show with warts and all. I did my booth shot in a show where I recognized I had perfect lighting for it, close to three years ago. I need to do a new one pretty soon.

I think your suggestion that new booth shots be required each year is ridiculous. And it's probably ridiculous to think a lot of artists use 10 year old work. I just don't believe it happens very much. Artists have more pride than that in their newer work. Don't you?

And what in the world do you mean, Wendy Merkle, about people's profile pictures?

Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on August 3, 2015 at 10:17pm

I have to agree Mark.  I set up my booth just to take a jury photo.  I don't want to, but I feel I have to.  I make jewelry and it's very competitive so a booth shot absolutely makes a difference.

Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 3, 2015 at 10:21pm
Thanks for your opinion. I'm a multi award winner, but not in the high end shows. 15 ribbons in the past 8 years, including 7 blue ribbons or their equivalents for best in oil/acrylic painting.

I disagree that folks Don't recycle entry shots and don't fake their booth entries.

I've only been at one show in the past 10 yrs of doing juried events where someone came by with jury booth photos to compare submitted versus actual.

So the capacity for BS'ing the jury and the event with a staged shot is really big... Especially when you consider that so many events advertise that they have a different jury every year and like buy/sell, most show directors and decision makers have no stomach for policing their own rules and regulations.

I also believe that if you have award winning paintings, you are likely to submit them as entries regardless of whether they exist only in print formats in your inventory.

And we all see folks who, for a fee, will stage and shoot your booth shots advertising in print and web arenas. They generally aren't shooting them live at shows to my knowledge.

I also have spoken to several painters who admit to a vast difference between their booth shots and their actual set-ups. A lot of these are leaving out print browse bins and cutting the number of pieces they display jury booth shot versus actual show hanging numbers.

Again if this is a real phenomena, then show directors and jurors need to stop using them to jury entries.
Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 3, 2015 at 10:26pm
Not disagreeing with you Roxanne. Have to say I understand the competitive jewelry environment. It's been fostered by the shows over time and the jewelers are competing against each other, not the fine artists.
Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on August 3, 2015 at 11:58pm

I agree that the jewelers are competing against each other, not painters.  That doesn't change the fact that we also have to do the staged booth shots with only the expensive stuff in and not as much inventory as we would normally put out so that it doesn't look cluttered.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on August 4, 2015 at 9:32am

Artists have an option when they get to a show as to how they will set up their booth. Sometimes how the person next to us sets up their booth factors into how we set up our own. And when an artist gets positioned on a corner booth unexpectedly, they have the option to set up their booth opposite from their normal way to allow for an open side.

There are numerous scenarios as to why an artist's booth image is considered a representation of their actual set up booth at the show. It's not like a building code environment where plans are submitted and then an inspector comes and grades the job.

We need to be able to adapt and remain flexible. That's just how this business works best.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on August 4, 2015 at 10:12am

Regarding how judges weigh the booth shot....

I'm sure you've considered the image judging scenario yourself, Mark. In 10 seconds or less, you have the opportunity to accept or reject an artist based upon the images presented. A cluttered booth shot doesn't factor well into the decision to accept an artist. It contributes to the rejection.

Having art judged is different than selling it. Those are two completely different scenarios that might deserve a different approach to maximize results. It isn't dishonest in any way. A judge doesn't need to see your marketing signs and stuff, but a customer might.

We're also being judged from four to six months prior to an actual show. A lot can happen in that time, such as the art we use for judging getting sold. Now we don't have that original for the show four months from now, and that's wrong?

I read your website #1 and looked at almost everything on it. Some great images of the greyhounds. WOOHOO!

Comment by Mark V. Turner on August 4, 2015 at 10:15am
Barrie, my point would be that the booth shot submitted for the jury would be orchestrated specifically for the jury, but not representative of what the show set up would be regardless of position or who your neighbor was. It is designed to hoodwink a jury into believing that your show set up is what you submitted as a jury image.

I think it bears noting that jurors have also been swayed to believe that there is a certain preferred aesthetic for how a booth should present itself and this is how they judge those images. The fact is that the public doesn't necessarily care. The public tastes in home decoration run the gamut from hoarder to ascetic Spartan.

Perhaps there need to be booth standards established as part of jury criteria and these need to be published as part of the prospectus. In that way, we can understand what a show is looking for. Howard Alan has long had an entire section of their website devoted to booth aesthetics. It's not that they actually seem to enforce it. But at least it is there.

So Barrie, I still disagree. And I think we are a very very long way away from the origins of the outdoor art show with its snow fences and clothes lines and no tents and no women's fashions or jewelry.

But if juries need a certain density of work or specific arrangement of work, or propanels vs flexible mesh displays, they need to state their aesthetic and density requirements because this is obviously no longer a matter of exhibitor aesthetics. The standard should be the quality of the work and not how much of it you put on the walls, nor how you decide to frame it. It's always been about the contents of the package, not the box you put it in. And while I am not a proponent of a wattle and daub booth display, if the jury requires it, I'll fake one just like the other folks are doing and come to the show and set up like those who send in booth shots that don't reflect their reality. Jurors need to wake up. The jury process needs to specifically state their booth shot aesthetic requirements, or realize that they really want propanels or armstrongs, or flex mesh.

Currently, though, they are living in a fantasy where the exhibitors are submitting the silk purse display and setting up a pig sty.


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