Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Now remember - these are just my thoughts and opinions from my experience and internal workings as an artist. The point is not to discuss, support or argue with ME personally - but to think about and comment on these IDEAS. And so importantly, ADD to the discussion other ideas and perspectives not broached here. Growth the discussion with your view. Just urge staying on point throughout.
So many facets to this question it is somewhat intimidating. Excluding commission-based shows, the tapestry of art that constitutes the show and from which the public and patrons have to choose is solely determined by the jury process (plus possibly a few award winners usually chosen by an even smaller set of “jurors” (aka: judges). They determine the fate of each of us as an artist: the ability to show our work before any particular crowd, to return to a crowd that demonstrated through purchasing it likes our artwork – or not return because of the opinion of jurors. No matter what we do or how much we ‘change’ or grow in our work, it ultimately seems to come down to the opinions of jurors. Similarly, the juror node is the primary and sole determinant of what patrons get to choose from and the foundation on which the success, or failure, of the show is premised.
Who makes a better juror? Academician? Gallery owner? Museum curator? Peer artist? Best friend? Worst enemy? Person who is color blind? Why? What about an art patron? I cannot remember seeing or hearing of an art patron on a jury. And a rare instance or two of doing so by a show is not the point – as a regular course of events, why are patrons not jurors?
Which ‘type’ of ‘qualifications’ best reflect the objectives of the show? The look of the show? The ultimate success of the show? Hopefully at least one objective of the jury process is laying a palette of artwork the attendees and patrons wish to purchase, no? Do any of us go to art show merely to exhibit? Is a show successful merely if people turn out, crowds are large? Or only if people engage the art, the artists and buy, at the show or post-show?
Do jurors typically buy artwork? Patrons – do they merely come to look, as when going to an art museum where the work is not for sale? Within the constraints of no buy-sell, no imports, no rep’s – handmade by the artisans present at the show, these events are about patrons of the arts and sales by the artisans, are they not?
If a show thinks their jurors are good and doing a good job, why do none assess that characteristic? For example, gather sales data from all artists, compare to jury scores, then ask a statistician (found locally at a bar perhaps) and see if there is any relationship that exists between jury score and sales, with sales being the response of the public to what was selected by the jury. Or at bare minimum position staff at exits to see how much artwork is going out and from which artists? Are these not doable? Important?
Fundamentally, jurors seem merely another manifestation of a critic – like a book critic, movie critic, music critic, Broadway play critic or restaurant critic. Does a juror bring to the table more than a set of personal biases, likes and dislikes, preferences - same as you or me? Do they really know all art mediums? In a jury room where images may be viewed for what – 10 seconds? Maybe 20? Can they really tell that much about the work? And again to be intentionally redundant, what relationship do their opinions have to the art-buying public on which artists and the show fundamentally rely? Do their scores in any way reflect how well artists will sell or the flip side, how the public will respond to the work? Do jurors provide feedback to show management on how to better the process (e.g., display slides for a longer period of time to allow more ability to critically view the work, ability to read artist statement or description of techniques and materials they shows asked artist to provide then review the slides)?
Interjection here: I think of how the established world of art, primarily the painter community, critically viewed the emergence of impressionistic painters. Also how critically derided by were the works of such notables as Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams. I would also ask from your personal experiences, do you go see a movie, or avoid one, because a "critic" liked it or dislike it? Same for books, eating in restaurants and the like. Do you feel your sensibilities are in any way well-defined by critics?
Last, is it a good thing to have any juror sit on more than one event? If they see your work at multiple shows, how much of your career is now tied to the opinion of a single juror? If they recognize the work of some of the artists, that they may know personally, how do they not bring into their decision ancillary information other jurors do not have about that particular artist, with nothing comparable to bring into the decision process for those artists they do not know? Effectively then, how can a jury process be blind if the juror is familiar with many of the artists they are jurying?
Okay. Your turn.