This month I was asked to write about my experience as a juror for the 2019 St. Louis Art Fair. These notes and recommendations were compiled as information for an artist to consider before submitting an application. This article is an insight into the business of art fairs.
This article can be found on BermanGraphics Blog
2019 Saint Louis Art Fair Juror Review by Karen Gelbard
A juror’s notes and recommendations on applying to the Saint. Louis Art Fair 2019
The Saint Louis Art Fair sets the standard for a well-run show that can generate big sales from an educated and discriminating audience. There were five jurors with diverse backgrounds who selected the work for the show. It was a very thorough process.
We were charged with choosing excellence rather than to fill categories. The work was separated into two categories, 2-D and 3-D. Each artist was asked to submit four images and a booth shot. An artist statement that describes techniques and materials was also required. These statements were read aloud during the projection.
149 applicants were selected from 1150 submissions.
The first day of the jury was open to the public. Among others, Emerging Artists came to observe the process. This was a great opportunity to see your own work projected on the screens and compare it to the competition.
The jurors looked at all the images four times. We rotated positions at the laptops for scoring which also put us in front of different screens during the rotation.
Some applications were eliminated very quickly because the application was incomplete.
Recommendations and Observations
Use the “Preview as Juror” button in ZAPP to look at your submission. It is a great way to review your application. The images are projected on screens simultaneously for this show in the same order as you see them in the “Preview as Juror”. White backgrounds overwhelmed the artwork. Gray backgrounds were more effective.
Check your spelling. The new ZAPP now has a spell check feature. Use it.
Update your images. One image had a date on it from 2007. It might be the best image of your work, but if it hasn’t changed since 2007, it becomes a subject of concern.
The jury images are projected simultaneously on screens. Think of the jury images as a visual story. The first image is the subject, the second and third images are the feature and the last image is the closing statement.
For 2-D work, frames should not be in the jury image.
For Wearables/Fiber, show drape, shape and construction. Whether mannequin or model, the armature for the garment should enhance, not overwhelm, the image.
Add dates, titles and description to your images. It is a waste of an otherwise good submission to leave these fields empty. This is additional information for the jurors about your work that may not be covered in the artist statement. This is a great place to include your price range, one thing that is asked for in the application.
A few artist statements stood out because of poor or unprofessional language. One artist statement was done with emojis. Later, I consulted with a young person to decipher them. We both agreed it look like a cat had walked across the keyboard. Another statement was crude in its language. It was memorable for being inappropriate but did not help the applicant’s chances in any way.
You are competing against your peers. Ask yourself the question “How is my work different from others in the same category?”
The Artist Statement
The artist statement is where techniques and materials are described. As an example, “I am inspired by the flowers outside my kitchen window” is not a good statement. It uses only 54 characters and the application allows 300. Try writing with the process as the subject matter. Avoid writing in the first person. Describe unusual tools or materials. Include techniques that are added to manipulate the materials. Do not go over the 300-character limit.
The Booth Image
The booth image should be a current representation of your setup and display. It is also another chance to show the jurors a cohesive body of work and how the work is presented. Remember to remove all identification. This includes signage for booth numbers and signatures on work.
When it is time to apply to the Saint Louis Art Fair again, take the time to review, update and refine your application. Good luck!