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    CHESWICK, PA 15024

  • November 16, 2014

    10 Tips to Help You Get Into Better Art Shows

    From the November 11th pod cast on Art Fair Insiders. The page also has Bruce Baker’s ten tips, though not expanded like my list. You can download and listen to the pod cast as an MP3 file. If you need help finding the download link, there’s more information at the bottom of this article.

    Bruce Baker and Larry Berman

    1 – Choosing which shows to apply to
    Research shows before you apply. Find out if it’s a good fit for your style or price range. Too often basic questions about shows are asked on the forums after the artist has applied and been accepted.

    It’s OK to apply to more than one show on a weekend to try and keep your schedule full. But choose your shows carefully to make sure they are worth the extra money if the shows you cancel do not have a refund policy.

    2 – Understand how the shows you apply to jury so you can choose which images to apply with and what order to put them in.

    JAS uses monitors and the jurors see the images 3 over 2 on a gray background, large enough to see a body of work. The artist statement is centered in the second row between the #4 and #5 images. Some of the better fine craft shows include the artist name.

    95% of the ZAPP shows use monitors for jurying, and for most of those shows the jurors work from home. The jurors see the images one at a time on a black background. So your first and last images should be the strongest for a good first and last impression. The jurors can spend time looking at your images.

    5% of the ZAPP shows project the images for their jurors, and some of them are the top shows. The jurors see the images projected simultaneously with one image per screen. Therefore your presentation should be chosen to keep the jurors eyes centered. Your booth image should not have any distractions so the jurors glance at it and dismiss it as being professional. Jurors get to see your entire presentation for usually less than 20 seconds so the less time they spend looking at the booth, the more time they have to evaluate your art.

    3 – Black borders yes or no
    It says on the ZAPP web site that black borders are no longer necessary. Because the shows that project the images haven’t changed how they jury since ZAPP started over 10 years ago, your images should always be uploaded at 1920 pixels square with black borders. If not, when you apply to the top shows that project the images, ZAPP will resize and add black borders to your images possibly degrading them. The more detail in your artwork, the more chance of the images degrading. Making a change to a JPEG and saving it degrades the image, no matter what quality level you save it at.

    The borders have never been an issue for ZAPP monitor jurying because the jurors have always seen the images on a black web page. The black borders are to make sure all images project the same size. Because JAS uses a gray background, if you want to use your ZAPP images with black borders, make sure they don’t distract.

    4 – Good photography
    It goes without saying that good photography is essential, especially if you’re in a competitive medium like jewelry. Good photography takes the photography out of the equation and lets the art work be juried on its own merit. Don’t be too creative with the photography because you want the jurors to say “wow, great art” instead of saying “wow, great photograph of that art”.

    5 – Backgrounds should match and contain neutral tones and not introduce color. Gray, black, or graduated black to white work best as backgrounds. The artwork should pop off the background, not get lost in it or distracted by it. White background should be reserved for web sites or magazine publication. In a dark jury room white blinds the jurors and prevents detail in the work from being seen.

    2D work like paintings or photographs shouldn’t have any background. Crop to the edges of the art and do not include mats or frames. Your booth image shows the jurors your presentation. And don’t include signatures or any other identification on the artwork or in your booth.

    6 – Photograph large or difficult to light objects under your white canopy. Your artwork looks great when set up at a show so why not use that same quality of light to photograph it for jurying. Hang 3 side walls and lay the fourth wall on the ground to reflect light back up. Just like using a 10×10 EZCube.

    7 – Camera settings
    Cameras are set wrong when new. Besides not being set to capture the most pixels at the highest quality, they are set to give shallow depth of field with a faster shutter speed so that pictures of your children or pets can be taken without blurring. The settings need to be the opposite to photograph art. Low ISO, stop the lens down for maximum depth of field and use a tripod so the camera can choose a longer shutter speed for the correct exposure. I’m the only jury slide photographer who answers questions for artists attempting to photograph their own artwork. Please give me a call if you have any photography questions. 412-401-8100.

    8 – Consistency in your body of jury images. Something I learned from listening to Bruce Baker when we’ve done workshops together – when you choose pieces to use for jurying, if you choose from pieces made at the same time they’ll look like they come from the same mind and they’ll go together. Also, not every piece that looks good to you will photograph well. Be prepared to photograph a few extra pieces so you can test which group will make the best presentation.

    9 – In general, what sells well doesn’t jury well and what juries well doesn’t sell well. Artists tend to think their best-selling artwork is what they should jury with. Usually more commercial, popular, or cliché work sells well but experienced jurors look for something different. Something they’ve never seen before or something they’ve seen but in a way they’ve never seen it.

    10 – The 3 deadly sins of jurying are sex, politics and religion. All three are topics people feel strongly about and are guaranteed to turn off at least as many jurors as are turned on by them. In fact, anything people feel strongly about shouldn’t be jury image topics.


    © Larry Berman