Creative Entrepreneurship

I listened to this Art Fair Insider podcast today, How Art Fairs Choose and Run Their Juries.

I took notes so I could present a few highlights to you that you might have been curious about but not curious enough to listen to the 64 minute podcast. You’re welcome.

Guests on the show were:
Mo Riley, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

Lyn Sedlak-Ford, Board Member Art in the Pearl, Portland, OR.

Jerry Allen Gilmore, juror for many of the nation’s best art fairs.

I’m not going to try to attribute each bit of information to the correct panelist but rather highlight the things I found interesting. Keep in mind these are high end shows. A 10’x10′ space at Art in the Pearl is $575. Ann Arbor Street Art Fair charges $650. Each one charges a non-refundable $35 application fee.

The terminology has changed over the years from jury fee to application fee because it was previously thought by some artists that the jurors were being paid this money. The more accurately named application fee covers administrative staff that receives and processes the applications, arranges for the jury, sets up the jury room, sometimes rents space for the jury to use and notifying applications of acceptance. The fee also covers the credit card processing costs.

Sometimes the jury asks for additional information if they are unsure about a particular component of the juried work, for instance. Sometimes the artist is called for additional information, sometimes the staff researches it on the Internet.

Jurors are paid a stipend for their time.

Jurors all work in the same room, sometimes viewing the images on a projection screen, sometimes on individual monitors in front of them. The first round goes rather quickly, literally seconds can be spent on each image. The second round is where jurors can ask for additional information, like having the Artist Statement read. Round 3 is where the final decision making takes place using a point system.

Some shows have no specific number of spots for each medium – all spots go to the highest scorers. One year could have particularly strong painting submissions, and less pottery, for instance.

The board of the show organization does not have veto power over the jurors they hired. The directors interviewed said blackballing artists is a myth – they want a quality show, period. There are usually 5 jurors on the panel. One show mentioned has 3 jurors who are peers (often the award winners from previous years). Often at least one of the jurors is from the academic world, someone who is used to “grading” artwork, so to speak. Another could be a gallery director.

The Ann Arbor show juries with panels, each panel comprised of experts in the medium they jury. Each panel also includes an Advisory Board Member, who has a 6 year term limit. The other jurors are new each year.

Ann Arbor profiles their jury here.

Jurors are instructed to score on:
Color and Texture
Artistic Merit

Both of the show directors said jurors are not given pricing information and don’t consider saleability. The jurors award points and the highest scoring artists are awarded spots in the show with the rest going onto a waiting list.

If two artists in the same medium have identical scores, both artists are accepted (and spaced far apart from each other in the show) or one artist could be put on the wait list (which the directors seemed to indicate means they will get into the show too).

Both directors said they have jurors visiting the artists during the show and will extend invitations to artists to apply the following year without having to go through the jury process. These are not the same jurors who worked on this year’s show but sometimes award winners from previous years.

One of the show directors interviewed said they have invited 62 artists (including award winners) back for the following year. I couldn’t find the number of artists participating in the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (high 300s) for perspective, but it attracts 500,000 visitors. Major show!

I see that Rochester Artists Jeremy & Chelsea of Delish Glass and Raphaela McCormack will be at the Ann Arbor Street Fair this July. None of these 3 artists are Rochester Artisans in spite of being invited numerous times. I love their work immensely! Check it out.

I thought it was interesting stuff – hope you did too!


Comments on: "Ever Wonder about Art Fair Juries?" (1)

  1. Tom Zachman said:

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting this.


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