Art Fair Insiders

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

Building a Better Art Festival - 6th Annual Arts Festival Conference

Portland, OR - August 28 & 29, 2014 
The Zapplication conferences always start off with a keynote speaker whose message extends beyond the art fairs. This year it was Russell Willis Taylor*, whose general message was, "we live in a world where the pace of change is only getting faster, yet some things, such as the enduring value of art and the unique role that artists play in our society, has not changed much in more than 2000 years. The Arts make life worth living."

Two days of speakers and workshops ensued. About 100 artists and show directors from across the country attended. Bev Ringenburg from the Cedar Key Arts Festival came the farthest. But show directors were there from S. Carolina (Artisphere), a bunch from Texas, from across the Midwest and many from the West Coast.

Here they are, the two women who manage the ZAPP system and make sure all runs smoothly for you: Christina Villa, ZAPP manager and Ruby Montana, ZAPP Program Associate.

How many show folks can fit in the elevator? On the left Bev Ringenburg, artist Kathleen Eaton, Sara Shambarger from the Krasl Art Fair and Mo Riley from the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair ...

On the left (who can help me out on her? Definitely a show director) and on the right Jenny Wright from The Woodlands Waterway Festival in Texas

Probably the most anticipated part by artists is the Public Portfolio Critique where a panel of professionals critique jury images submitted by participants

Experts presented useful information including:

  • Barry Fell: Problem Solving for Events and Strategic Media Planning
  • Chris Dahlquist: The Growth in the "Maybes"
  • Alyson Stanfield: Websites that make sense and How to charge more money for your artwork
  • ZAPP Symposium moderated by Stephen King/Des Moines, a thought-provoking session for discussing larger themes, including those in the greater arts and culture field
  • Eve Connell: Content Matters, The Art of Pitching Messages and Effective Interpersonal Communication
  • Creating an Art Fair Experience, presented by Patrick Flaherty/Broad Ripple Art Fair and Carla Fox/Art in the High Desert

Connie Spickelmier and Jean Schaffer from the Creative Arts League of Sacramento and Terry Adams from the Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Kelly Smith Cassidy (artist and Tahoe Art League) and Erin Hartz from Chicago's One of a Kind Show, in the background Brad Anderson and Grace Peterson from the Salina, KS, Arts & Humanities Commission

Artist Alyx Morgan who won a free pass to the conference in the AFI Birthday Party Pledge Drive.
Great to meet you, Alyx!

Many show directors: Sara Shambarger/Krasl, Patty Green from Clute, TX (starting a new show there in 2015), Kerry Murphy/Artisphere, Mo Riley/Ann Arbor Street, Bev Ringenburg/Cedar Key, Liz Runforff Smith/Artisphere and ??

*Russell Willis Taylor's presentation was exciting and thought provoking. In need of a good book to read? She recommends Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future.

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Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 18, 2014 at 8:33pm

And just one more thing about zapp.... My wife and I are collabrators, but do you know how many shows miss this detail? There are only a few that actually list us together on signs and in programs. It's usually just her name since she's the painter. But our collaboration is the biggest thing that separates us apart from others. I submit jury images showing FRAMED WORK. Sometimes that may work against us since the established rule is DON'T SHOW FRAMES. That's something everyone gets taught in art classes. Anyway, the fact that we are collaborators goes unnoticed most likely because of the way shows see the artist profile detailed in zapp. I don't know how they could miss my name since I'm entered into my wife's zapp profile as a collaborator, but it happens 19 out of 20 times.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 18, 2014 at 6:59pm
The other side of the coin: a show that presents all of the important stuff up front on Zapp impresses me as being well managed by someone in the know. When I have to dig for basic info, I assume they have their nose in the air assuming their show is so great everyone knows this stuff, or a complete idiot is running the outfit. Nothing like starting off with red flags waving at you.
Comment by Connie Mettler on September 18, 2014 at 3:18pm

Oh, and no one mentioned that almost all of the photos were women, Terry Adams wasn't the only man in the group. I count about 25-30 men.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on September 18, 2014 at 1:38pm

I get what you guys want with ZAPP in terms of listing the most important items when deciding what shows to apply to. Usually, for that info, I have to dig for it. I always find it either buried somewhere in their prospectus or on their web site which is easy to find by clicking on the icon. Yes, it would be nice to have that info up front.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on September 18, 2014 at 1:22pm

I want it clear that I don't have any problem with how ZAPP goes about its business. They have always said that they do not influence how shows run their events. So, much of what Barrie has said should be directed to the shows themselves. ZAPP does not have a suggested outline for anything. Each show does there own thing. If you want the shows to post, up front, their booth fees, for instance, then you have to make suggestions to the show directors, themselves. I noticed the La Quinta show already does that.

One thing I like about the Square is that I can take American Express and pay the same rate as any other card.

ZAPP was created by show directors. It is only natural that there would be a slight bias towards the show perspective. It would only be logical that ZAPPCON would have that same slight bias. Therefore, most, if not all, the discussion topics involving artists are about how to market better, how to sell more, how to have a better display. There are no critical discussions from the artists perspective, as to what shows can do to make themselves more artist friendly. It is my experience that the most successful shows are the most artist friendly. Therefore, all my posts from now on will be directed towards show directors as to how to make their shows better for artists.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 18, 2014 at 12:58pm

Barrie Bryant hit all of my gripes about Zapp. It they were on the ball, they would have a set format that ALL shows must complete with GEOGRAPHY, COSTS and DATES. They could then write their paragraph about all of the other stuff. Without the essentials, The get the little message ion red letters that they have to complete this before listing the show. DUH DUH DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 18, 2014 at 11:48am

We always took Amex. Heavens, for a few cents more you could lose a sale! All the expense of getting to the show and then not making it as easy as possible for people to buy your work? What's the sense of that. Didn't realize Zapp didn't have Amex as part of the system.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 18, 2014 at 11:06am

I think zapp must leave it all up to art shows. There really should be some standardized form for the main details of the prospectus. Shows will all want to vary what they ask artists to provide. Some want awards won, some (like 4 Bridges) want to know if the artist is applying to other shows for the same weekend within a 150 mile radius of Chattanooga, and then some just want very little basic info and the jury images. Booth fee is really important to know right off the bat for me. It's just basic EXPENSE info that should be at the top of every application. Also, if a little town lists its name, why not have them also include in parenthesis something like 35 miles south of Tallahassee, as in Sopchoppy, Florida. I'm just using that little town as an example. I'm not necessarily interested in doing the Worm Grunt Festival and I don't even think the little Sopchoppy festival is on zapp. But the city should always be accompanied by the state!

I've seen plenty artists lose the sale by not accepting Amex. They're not doing the kind of volume zapp is doing, though. Zapp ought to be able to negotiate a good deal with Amex and offer it to us. I'm sure by now most artists have figured out what else to do. Two years ago I was calling shows that didn't accept checks and asking to send a check or pay them directly with Amex.

Comment by Connie Mettler on September 18, 2014 at 10:09am

Such great suggestions, Barry and Barrie! Don't think people who can do something about this aren't reading here. And since I haven't sent in my evaluation for the conference yet to Zapp I'll definitely reference your ideas. Thank you.

My apologies for not showing more artist photos. I just looked at the attendee list and it looks as though from 1/3 to 1/2 of the attendees were artists! I was the person with the camera and think my decision to shoot show directors rather than artists was partly because I thought the readers here would be interested to put some faces with the names of the shows they are interested in. 

Just wonder if Zapp has a suggested outline for shows when writing their prospectuses. 

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 17, 2014 at 5:49pm

I did notice that as well, but they are the people I had expected would attend a conference like this. Maybe they are the folks Connie was most comfortable photographing? But there probably weren't very many artists attending. Still, I have wondered why artists would attend a zapp conference in the first place. I would probably learn something, but would it be worth the cost? Couldn't I obtain those selling skills or whatever they may be instructing about by reading books and blogs right here in my sitting room? They are charging bucks for people to attend the conferences, aren't they? Plus travel to the gig? I just don't see the value for me as an artist.

I think websites such as AFI help artists a great deal more than a zapp conference will. We've had discussions about theft and security and crime and stuff like that. We can't do anything about encouraging shows to offer free secure parking or having fewer food and music vendors or no gate fees.

I have a few good suggestions for zapp to make our experience using the software more efficient. Maybe I'll just call them on the phone to discuss it since their phone number is all over AFI. I've called them a few times already, but not with any suggestions.

Why does zapp refuse to allow American Express charges for jury and booth fees?

Why does zapp not ask shows to put BOOTH FEE COSTS just below the JURY FEE at the top of all applications?

They used to not even have a city and state listed in a conspicuous place until pretty recently. That was always stupid since sometimes you couldn't even find the city and state listed in the application. Then you'd go to the website and spend five minutes searching for the city and state there since web developers seem to think anyone visiting the website must already know where the dang show actually is in the world. Sometimes the application and website would state the city and not the state. WTF?! I had to call a telephone number (if I could find one) to ask where in the heck the show would be since it didn't actually say. Sometimes I'd just do an area code search, sometimes I'd call.

Technical writing is really important since zapp lists instructions. Anything goes on that site. I like the ease of the site mostly, so don't get me wrong. But it could be much better and more artist friendly. The basic information could be the in same format every art show to list. Other pertinent details could be after the main stuff. Some shows go on and on about stuff, like 4 Bridges in Chattanooga, Tennessee for instance. Others say very little (my kind of show), like Maitland Rotary in Maitland, Florida.

You are so right about needing to make it easier for artists, or just more artist friendly, BB. At least it should be that way in the administrative part of this biz.

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