Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Fair Director Woes?

How much do you know about summer art fairs? You know, the white tents in the park?

I have actually written two articles on the subject lately, and it looks like number three is joining the crowd. Farmers And Artists And The Job investigates the aforementioned job descriptions in a (ahem) bouyant sort of manner. Should I Stay Or Should I Go-oh, The Summer Art Fair 2009, gives my top ten reasons to do just that---actually go to a show, or bash it, and stay home.

And here we are again, writing yet another summer art fair article. Sheesh. I'm acting like I know it all! Ha! I know some. But first let me give you the behind-the-scenes.

Most art fairs operate with a jury system. The artist submits their images (of their artwork) AND their jury fee check to the show they'd like to exhibit at. Yes Dorothy, we have to pay to even be considered. Jury fees range from $10 to $40. I haven't seen any higher than that, and I don't want to either. The jury sits and looks at artist's images at the rate of approximately one artist every ten seconds and then decides who they want to exhibit at their event. Notification is sent out to the winners and losers. The winners then get to send in their exhibit fee which is hardly ever less than $100, and I personally chose to ignore those that are over $500. And this win/win situation gives you the opportunity to drive a long ways and spend a weekend in a park hoping you'll meet someone who loves your paintings as much as your mother does :)

There is also a category known as "the wait-list artist". "And what in tarnation is that?" you might ask. Let me explain. Because all the jurying-limbo is done early in the year, and nobody knows where they are going to get accepted, many artists apply for several events, and ironically get accepted to fairs that happen on the same weekend. That means they have to cancel at one, leaving a blank spot in that art fair lineup. Heavens, we can't have a blank spot in the lineup, rather we develop the wait-list. So comes the list of ten to twenty artists who weren't quite favored enough to be winners, but weren't tossed out as complete losers either. One of those lucky souls then gets the call to send in their exhibit fee check and join in the fun.

Heads up: here comes the part that caused me to think it important to write this article. Today in my inbox I found an email from an art fair director announcing they had "openings" for their wait-list. What? Are they rebels and not following the art fair testament? OR is this a sign of things to come in the art fair world this summer? Inquiring minds want to know how many of their normal applicants did they not get this time around? And they need to round up a few more to keep in waiting, just in case? Wow. Several directors have also sent emails announcing their extended deadlines for application submission. (read: we haven't gotten enough yet either!)

Personally, I have picked and chosen with a significant amount of discerning care regarding potential art fairs for my summer calendar. I sent about 1/5 of the number of applications this year versus the previous. Gone is the desire to gamble on a "maybe" art fair.

Let's refer back to paragraph #3, where I insinuated I might know it all. Maybe, and here's some advice: If you are thinking starting up an art fair this year, would be a great fundraiser for your organization, you might want to reconsider. Times they are a changin'.

Later, Cooper


Janell said...

Thank you, Karen, for sharing the benefit of your experience and wisdom. I'm starting to get it now.

Sell Art Online said...

Some great insight here. It's a shame about the fee to be considered, hopefully it will pay off!

LSaeta said...

Glad to have found your blog. Your artwork is really nice. Thanks for the great advice!

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, I haven't stopped by for a while. I am very ashamed.
Hope you end up near me this summer for one of these art fairs.

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