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Applying to Art Shows Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Now that you've found a show/gallery/fair you would like to apply to, it's time to get your images picked out for your submission.


Let's face it, the competition to get into quality shows is fierce. You need to put your best foot forward. Professional looking images of your artwork are essential.


Look at photos of your art work with a critical eye. Pay particular attention to focus, lighting, and compositon. Choose only shots that make you and your work look professional.


Photography skills require practice. And, photographing artwork requires its own special set of skills.


On a side note, these days everyone has a camera on their phone/tablet - and some of these devices do have the capability of taking really great pictures. However, just like with regular cameras, the skill of the photographer makes all the difference in the quality of the image.


If you have not yet developed the skillset to take professional looking shots of your artwork, you should consider hiring a professional photographer who is well versed in this type of photography.


Don't know what constitutes a professional looking image?


For standard square or rectangular artwork in two dimensions, it's an image cropped ony to show the artwork - no background peeking through and no frame unless it's an intrinsic part of the piece. It should be evenly lit and and clearly focused.


For unusually shaped work and three dimensional art, the work should fill as much of the frame as possible. Again try to get the lighting as even as possible - watch out for hotspots, reflections, and deep shadows. Focus on 3d work can be a bit trickier because you may not be able to get everything to look crisp. Make sure the most important parts are in crisp and that anything not in focus is not distracting.


Check out our photo tips for more info.


More About Applying to Art Shows


Get the Right Fit

Do a Background Check


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Applying to Art Shows Get the Right Fit

When applying to an art fair or gallery show, make sure your work "Fits" the show theme, gallery style, etc. As I mentioned in my previous post, if it's local check it out in person. If not, research online - most shows/galleries have some semblance of a website.


You needn't waste your time (or the jury's) applying to a show that's not appropriate for you or your work - say for example by sending images of your traditional representative work to a gallery that only shows abstract art.


This goes for the show's theme as well. Don't send landscape images to a portrait themed show. Believe it or not some artists do this - either they don't read the prospectus thoroughly or they figure that their work is so good that they can somehow slide it past the jury. Doing so will get you a reputation, and not a good one, it shows you don't value you the jury's/show's time.


On this note- make sure you follow the submission guidelines- for the same reason- not following guidelines wastes the jury's time and may get your submission thrown out.


More About Applying to Art Shows

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Next: Give Us Your Best Shot(s)

Applying to Art Shows Do a Background Check

Do a little research about any show before applying.


Whether you receive an email invitation to apply or you hear about a show through an advertisement or word of mouth, the first thing you should do is try to find out more information about it.


Make sure the show sponsor/gallery is legitimate and above board in its dealings. There have been stories of scams so you want to protect yourself. Also, I and some of my artist friends have had issues with galleries that are careless with work or don't pay their bills. Sometimes a quick Google search will tell you if others have had problems with a show or gallery in the past.


Google the sponsor/gallery. Look at their website and make sure that looks professional. Do they advertise? Do they participate in social media? Check out the work of other artists they represent - you might even contact one or two of them for references.


If the show is local, try to visit the venue. Go to the gallery and check out the space, note the manner in which they display the art - Are the works displayed professionally? Do any show sign of damage from improper handling? Look at the exhibition space - Is the gallery clean? Is it well organized? Pay attention to the staff - Do they seem professional and well-informed? Attend an opening - Is it well trafficked? Does it look like they are making sales?


Reach out to other artists you know and see what they have to say about the show/venue - ask questions about such things as care and handling of artwork, turnout for shows, and promptness of payment for sold items.


For art fairs/festivals - if possible, visit the show the year previous to applying. That way you can get a sense of the quality of the fair itself and the artwork being shown, see what's selling, get a sense of the crowd, and speak to other artists (see my artist's guide to visiting an artfair).


Doing a bit of legwork before even applying to a show will help you prepare for what to expect and may even save you money and potential heartache.


More About Applying to Art Shows

Next: Get the Right Fit

Applying to Art Shows Getting Started

You've compiled a body of artwork and you feel you are ready to start applying to shows.


Where to start?


Whether you are interested in applying to gallery shows or art festivals, there are some things to take into account before you start filling out applications and sending in those jury fees.


Doing your due diligence up front may save you from some costly mistakes.


There are numerous things to think about when applying to shows. Some may seem obvious but others may be things you never would have thought of until confronted with a problem.


Over the next few blog posts, I will point out a few things I have learned over the years about applying to shows.


More About Applying to Art Shows

Next: Do a Background Check

An Artist's Guide to Visiting an Art Fair

So you are visiting an art fair. Maybe you are scoping it out to determine if you would like to apply as a vendor in the future. Maybe you just want to immerse yourself in some beautiful art or meet some lovely artists.


Here are some do's and don'ts:


Remember that the artists are there to sell their art. This is not a social event for them - they are working. Don't do anything that makes their job harder.


Don't feel like you cannot step into an artists booth or ask questions just because you aren't going to buy anything. Having people in an artist booth is actually a draw for other customers to come in. If you are admiring an artist's work or even speaking to them about it, don't feel obligated to run out just because someone else comes in to look. However, unless you are seriously looking to purchase something from this artist, don't make it difficult for others to see the work and don't monopolize the artist's time.


When I do shows, people (esp. other artists) always ask how the sales are going. It may be a legitimate question, but it's not the appropriate venue. I have always answered with a positive- something like "Oh, it's going great. The crowds have been really good" - even when they're not. Here's the thing- kvetching about a bad show, at a bad show, during show hours, when customers are around is a huge no-no. Lots of artists will do it but it just makes them look bad. Don't put people on the spot like that - it's not nice. If you are really interested in participating in a particular show and you would like to speak to someone about their show experience, snag their card and ask them if you can pick their brain about the show at a later time.


These days everyone has a camera on their cell phone. People whip them out all the time and snap, snap, snap. You, being the art lover you are, may be tempted to photograph some else's work. That's fine, but ask permission first - some people are cool with it, others are not - it's their work so it's their prerogative.


This shouldn't require saying but I've witnessed it first-hand so here goes. Don't denigrate other artists' work or make comments like "I'm better than that person" - it's just plain rude On another note, sometimes a kind word or thoughtful gesture can really make an artist's day brighter.


Art fairs are exhausting. The days are long, full of hard, sometimes dirty, work. Weather can be unpredictable. Tents blow down. Work gets damaged or even stolen. Sometimes crowds/sales are very rewarding other times they are downright disappointing. And all through it, we artists must smile, exchange pleasantries and interact cheerfully with a sometimes less than appreciative public. As an artist who is just visiting, try to respect the amount of blood sweat and tears your fellow artists have put into the show.


How to Use Your Website Proactively

Most artists use their website as a tool for follow up after they have a show. People come to the show to see the work but don't commit to buying. Then in a last ditch effort to close a sale, the artist hands them a card with a website address hoping they'll go to the site and decide they simply can't live without a piece of art.


Sometimes this works - people often need time to think about a large purchase before committing. But, why not use your website in a more proactive manner as well?


Step One: build a mailing list with both email and snail mail addresses. People who've bought before (i.e. collectors), people who've come to your shows, anyone who's expressed an interest in your work.

Step Two: When getting ready for your next show, try to make your website as up to date as possible. You don't necessarily need to include every piece you'll have in the show, but a good representative sampling is wise.

Step Three: When promoting your show via postcard, email blast, Facebook page update, etc. include your website address and an invitation to preview your show via the website.


I have done this with success - I've even had people come to shows looking for specific pieces from my website and made sales.

Tagged: Marketing