Saturday, January 10, 2009

12 Suggestions for Jurying for a Show - What Do I Do?

For new artists/crafters, the thought of jurying for a show can be intimidating.

I'll never forget my first....mercifully easy, in its' own way. I'd been doing glass, furniture and picture frames and one of the principals in the Oak Cliff Artisans happened to be taking a walk by my house with a neighbor and they say me working on some of my Mission picture frames and stopped in for a look.

This gal was apparently impressed and so invited me to the next OCA meeting and asked me to bring some pictures of my and wood.

I dutifully showed up with a CD ROM of 10-20 pictures thinking we'd all have 'show and tell'. I was the only one whose work we looked at. Later I learned that they'd voted me 'in' to OCA and that's how I got into my first art show.

Most of us don't have it so easy. We get an application for a show and see that "submit pictures for the jury" and get nervous...

Here's some tips to prepare..and now is the time to start thinking about this, folks!
  • 1) Submit no more than the required pictures unless you truly have a compelling reason to do so.
  • 2) Take, or have someone take really good pictures! Have someone take really good pictures! Am I clear? Nothing is worse than getting an application with fuzzy, bad images. As a many-times juror it makes me wonder if the work is as sloppy as the pictures. Better to submit 3 good pictures than 5 mediocre ones! Get good pictures!
  • 3) Submit in a small enough file size (if electronic) to get through their firewall, but make them big enough so the details of your work shows through. If that means submitting a CD ROM with 3MB pictures, so be it!
  • 4) Some shows (sigh!) still ask for slides... You can go to BWC on Maple Avenue and have them make slides from .jpgs. You can even e-mail the .jpg file and then just pick up the slides when they're ready. Cost is around $5 - $7 per slide... FYI, you usually get your slides back if you submit with a SASE.
  • 5) Be prepared to submit a good picture of your booth display. Artfest and many other shows use this as a good way to cull out the 'also rans'. You might do stunning work, but if your display consists of a couple of 2x4 easels and a card table, they don't want you. If you don't have such a picture, set up your entire display in your living room or your driveway and take photos. See #2. Take good pictures!
  • 6) Label all of your .jpg files with your name or artist moniker. If they mix them up with something else, you'll benefit when they can identify which pics are yours.
  • 7) Fill out the application completely and submit with a letter on letterhead. You want to specify the show you're applying for, you want to express excitement about being in their show and you want to reference that you 'get' what their show is all about. Recently I applied for a show in which it was clear as a bell they'd been burned by 'resellers' or folks that didn't make most of their own jewelry components. My letter and my application made clear what parts I did and what parts I purchased. I "got" that they want 80% handmade components!
  • 8) When you're filling out an application, think about the jury's perspective and try to be strategic about getting in. I'll give you an example. My biggest seller is my glass pendants. That means "jewelry". Shows are overrun by Jewelry folks and painters/photographers. So when I jury, I say that no more than 1/3 of my booth is jewelry..and emphasize my glass lamps and sconces and, sometimes, even my Mission furniture (even though I rarely bring more than a few pieces to a show). This gets the juror away from thinking "oh great... Another jeweler"...and raises your chances of getting in.
  • 9) If there is any way to call or e-mail someone with the show, do so. Be friendly, funny, whatever makes them remember you and endear you to them. IF they have any influence in the process, it'll help you in the long run. If not, they still may come by your booth and meet you..and maybe buy something! I've had that happen!
  • 10) Get your materials in on time...always. That said, if you miss a deadline, call them or e-mail them and see if the deadline has/can be extended. I've been the lucky beneficiary of this two times last year... Be nice, kow-tow and accept "no" graciously if that's the answer.
  • 11) Try not to take this whole thing personally...hard but true. You may never know why they didn't accept you into the show. Maybe 900 folks applied for the 125-booth show and they picked nothing but the creme of the crop. Maybe they didn't think your work would 'fit' in the scheme of the show. Maybe they had too many folks who produce baby items or jewelry or glass and wanted to balance it with a broader selection of work. Go the the show and see if you can speculate what might have gotten you in.
  • 12) Finally, have fun and don't sweat the small stuff!


  1. Great tips Larry, Thanks for sharing them! May I repost them at Facebook on my group page if I include a link back to your blog?

  2. Slides - try . Great slides and VERY inexpensive. They've done all my slides for any jury that requires them.