This will be my 23rd year selling my work at arts festivals but my 1st sitting on the jury that screens applicants for a show. I was invited join the jury panel for FestiFall, which takes place every 1st Sunday in October in Chapel Hill, NC. It was a very interesting and illuminating experience. The show has 7 categories: fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, pottery, wood, and 'other'. Not surprisingly, jewelry received the most applicants by far, so we had to be extra careful with this category, trying to maintain a good balance for the show.
For each category, all the images (sorted by artist) were shown fairly quickly in succession so we could get a feel for the overall range of artwork submitted. Then we went back through each artist's work more thoroughly, while the descriptions they submitted of their process and materials was read out loud. Much attention was paid to the degree of handmade-ness of the items shown. Each juror then gave a numerical vote.
Some applications were a unanimous and immediate "Definitely!"; others were a unanimous and immediate "Please try again next year". Most fell somewhere in between and many provoked some lively discussion. This is where good photos and work descriptions were very important... sometimes we couldn't tell what we were looking at!
It is now up to the show chairs to tally the scores and make the final decision.
I must say I was surprised at the poor quality of some of the applications. Now I don't claim to be an expert, but assuming you are submitting your best work, there are some details you should pay attention to so your application doesn't get derailed for technical reasons:
4 simple tips for better show applications
- Images, images, images! There were several applications with virtually unreadable images: out of focus, too small, resolution too low. Some were crooked, or just plain confusing (e.g. too many objects in the photo). Assume that your images will be projected onto a large screen. What looks like a great photo on your camera might not look so great when enlarged, if you had the image quality set too low. Even if the show doesn't give you specifics regarding size and quality of images, I'd suggest following the guidelines set by Zapp (an online application center that many shows use). There's lots of other useful info on preparing images on their website .
- Send as many images as are required or allowed. FestiFall has a fairly loose requirement for number of images - you can send up to 6 - so why would you send only 2?
- If the application calls for a description of your work, describe what you do and what materials you use in as much detail as space will allow. Looking at a fuzzy photo with a description along the lines of "I gather various materials and make art that is a joy to behold" doesn't help the jurors and definitely doesn't help you.
- Double-check your application before you send it. Make sure your images are oriented the right way. There was an artist who sent some images that were completely unrelated to his category - we guessed he sent the wrong files by mistake. Don't make that mistake!
Well I hope this helps a bit when you're sitting down to apply for your next show... best of luck!