Thursday, February 7, 2013

After jurying 3 art fairs in 2 days, this is what I learned...

You’ve applied to hundreds of shows over the years. You know what to do and not do with your images. ZAPP and JAS have made it really easy to quickly apply and not really think about it. BUT, when was the last time you went into ZAPP and checked your profile? Checked that all your information is correct? Checked your capitalization, spelling and punctuation? Have you checked your artist statement to make sure it’s current?

The same things are important on JAS but on there your artist statement is even more important. When you’re being juried on JAS (monitor jurying), your artist statement is right in the center of the page, easy for the juror to read. And you wouldn’t believe how many people make mistakes in there. The wrong words, extra punctuation, missing letters and the big one is your name! Sometimes just the first name, sometimes the full name, “James does this”, “Mary Smith likes that”. I was shocked during my latest jurying how many statements had names. Have you checked yours lately?

Your artist statement should be current and if you want a juror to read it, it should be short. I don’t need to know where you went to school, what your life’s path has been or how many years you’ve been doing this. I need to know anything critical to what you’re showing me in your images. This is not your resume, please don’t list all the shows you’ve done. Short, readable and to the point.

And then there’s the old issue of a name in the booth image. There are still many, many booth shots that have either the artists name showing or the business name. Please, please remove it. It will not help you and it may hurt you. Take down the booth signs that the show gives you even if you can’t read your own name on it. Anything that distracts from what you want the juror to be looking at which is your booth and the work in it. Leave the chair, that doesn’t bother me at all but get out all the signs.

And I’ve learned a couple of new things in this last round of jurying that I’ve done. Photographers as a group have the most odd looking booth images of anyone. Many of them look like they’re 20’ x 20’ booths and amazingly they show under 10 pieces with no flip bins! Wow! Please don’t take offense if you’re a photographer because it’s probably not you I’m talking about but you probably know someone who fits this. Just something to think about.

The other thing I’ve learned is that sterling silver must no longer be a precious metal. No one told me! Jewelers - if there are two categories, precious and non-precious and you work in sterling silver, fine silver pmc or gold, you belong in the precious category. And trust me, you don’t want to be in the non-precious category if you don’t belong there. There is some absolutely wonderful jewelry being made these days without the use of precious metals and you don’t want to be competing with them if you don’t have to. Of course if you’re applying in the non-precious category then I’m not competing with you for a space so maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this…


Kelly said...

Fantastic information, thanks for the back-stage view.

SEWSart said...

I found this very helpful information since I am just starting out in the show application process, but I would like one thing clarified. Artist statements should not contain the artist name?

Thank you!


SEWSart said...

I found this very helpful since I am just starting out with the application process, but I would like one thing clarified.

The artist statement should not have the artist name?

Thank You!


Mary said...

Can you please explain your reason for thinking a business name within a booth is a bad thing? I've always heard creating brand recognition with proper signage and a great logo is what will get your name remembered and get people to search for you in the future. Without my business name within my booth, how are people to know I am the same artist they loved and purchased from in the past - or the artist their friend recommended.

Also, "Many of them look like they’re 20’ x 20’ booths and amazingly they show under 10 pieces with no flip bins! Wow!" I've read that statement several times and I still can't figure out if you are saying that is a good thing or bad thing. Are flip bins good or bad, and why? The Term WOW! can be both good and bad, so I am confused as to your meaning.

I really hope you don't consider my questions any sort of criticism, I truly don't know the answers and as a new artist, am always trying to learn.

Thank you,

Bonnie Blandford said...

Hi Mary - We're actually talking about two different things. I'm talking about the booth image that you jury into a show with which must not show any name or identifying information to keep the jury anonymous. When you're at the show you of course need your name and everything else involved in your personal branding showing. Just not in your jury images. Some shows will not even jury you if there is a name showing!

As far as the other comment, it was sarcastic since photographers pretty much all use flip bins but they're also known for not showing them in their jury images. Flip bins are great but if they are in your booth at a show they should be in your booth image that you jury into the show with.

Hope that helps!

Bonnie Blandford said...

Hi SEWSart - When your artist statement is used as part of a blind jury, you can't have any identifying items within either the artist statement or the booth image. When you're writing an artist statement for other uses, you can use your name however you'd like. Just make sure and take it out when you're using it for jurying! Bonnie

J.Bird said...

It's hard to type up a grammatically correct and perfect artist statement when you're only allowed 150 characters. I often have to replace "photographs" with the word "pics". I know that doesn't look as professional but we need to be allowed at least 200-300 characters in order to convey a better artist's statement.

Bonnie Blandford said...

Actually 100 characters is plenty for an artist statement for jurying purposes. You can make the statement you hang in your booth long and say everything you want but a juror has just seconds to read your statement. It needs to be short and informative. What does that juror need to know about your work that doesn't show in the images? Not where you get your inspiration, what shows you've done or how wonderful you personally think your work is but materials or technique if it's something that can't be seen. You can then take all those other things you wanted to say and put it on the statement in your booth for everyone to read. That's where it really belongs! Hope that helps! Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I always wonder what jurors look for. Here is my though your comment about photographers odd looking booth photos that look like a 20 by 20 booth.

If you do a straight on shot of the booth, showing all 3 walls, you really can only see the back wall. The 2 side walls are perpendicular to the camera, giving you a worthless side view of the picture frames. So in essence it is really just a photo of the back wall.

One solution is to use a wide angle lens. A 50mm lens sees what your eye sees, but you can't see the side walls. By using a wide angle lens, like maybe a 24mm, you can start to see the pictures on the side walls. However , the wide angle lens makes objects look farther away than they really are. There will be some distortion. The photographer may crop from the top or bottom to have a cleaner looking composition. But that will make the photo more panoramic. I have even played with fanning out my side walls so you can see the the pictures on those walls clearly. I like this look but it does make the booth photo more panoramic.

One other solution I have tried is to just photograph 2 walls. You can now see all the pictures clearly and I think this looks fine, but I worry that a juror will be upset that they can't see the third wall.

Pamela Whitlock said...

Last year I was a juror for the American Craft Council shows. I was only jurying the Jewelry and Fiber Wearable groups. We used Zap at the time and now ACC uses JAS. It was a long process to jury a total of 1500 applicants. It took me five and a half days. I took my job very seriously because I was partly determining someone's ability to make a living. The one thing I learned was that there were so many times I felt "let down"... people would put up their best image and it was downhill from there. I would have prefered to work up to the best image. Of course every image should be your best image.