Thursday, August 27, 2009 Resource Web Site is a free unique tool for artists applying to art shows. It helps answer the two most asked questions artists have about their application; which images should I use and what order should I arrange them in. Artists can set up a free account, upload their jury images, move them around and create different combinations to compare the strength of their jury presentation. Check out the web site for more information.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Victoria's Secret Booth

Kevin Kaye's booth at the Rochester Hills show. Photo by Jan Robb.A humorous look at why you shouldn't shoot a booth slide at an art show.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How Not to Ask For Digital Jury Images - Reinventing the Wheel Again

The Images Festival of the Arts in New Smyrna Beach Florida has taken it upon themselves to redefine how to size digital jury images. Totally ignoring the fact that over 30,000 artists have jury images sized 1920x1920 on their computer, they are asking for images sized 6x8 inches at 300PPI which translates to 1800x2400 pixels.

The problem with asking for non square images is that verticals display at 3/4 of the size that horizontals display because that's the format of monitors and digital projectors. And if the jurors are using wide screen monitors, the size difference between horizontals and verticals can be even greater.

Read my post about how not to ask for digital jury images, or just read the Images application.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apply with High Quality Photography only

The photography requirements for the Bar Harbor, Maine show on ZAPP which closes next week. Has anyone ever actually destroyed their master file, which is very short sighted because that eliminates any chance of putting together a body of work to be published in the future, like in a book. 

True limited-edition photography of high quality.
*Note about photography: Because of the spread of digital and other "mass produced" means, photography does not fall under the guidelines for original, one-of-a-kind or true limited edition art. However, due to "popular demand" it has been decided to allow photography to be exhibited provided the artist certifies that the image will be part of a true limited edition. In other words, a provenance must be included with each individual image certifying that the image will be reproduced in only a limited number edition of 250 or less after which the creator/master files will be destroyed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Update on ZAPP User Conference

Update on the ZAPP User Converence
Bruce Baker and I will be doing a three hour seminar on Friday morning August 21st. Here is a summery of the topics we'll be discussing:

  • Demystifying the jury process
  • Creating a stronger jury presentation
  • Showing the jury what they want to see
  • Improving your jury images
  • Creating a booth shot that has impact with both the jury room and at the show
  • How to display and sell your work while at a show, and a whole lot more!

Additionally ZAPP has agreed to set a one day fee of $70 for our seminar. Both Bruce Baker and I will be giving away our services as door prizes. And as usual when I do a seminar, I'll be there early to answer questions for anyone ambitious enough to get there early also.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reminiscing about Ann Arbor

Main Street section of the Michigan Guild show from 2006. The last year I did Ann Arbor.

My booth behind the clear front I had made for my Craft Hut. Each morning before the show opened I would take down the inner opaque side so people walking around early could see my work and hopefully come back to purchase.

That's me sleeping behind my booth during a slow time while my wife watched the front.

Typical sign found on the streets of Ann Arborduring the art show.

Three Rivers Arts Festival Shows Positive Growth

On the positive side of the art show news, this year the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh (my local show) changed the length from three weeks to two weeks this year for the first time. I walked the show both weeks and spoke to over a hundred artists. Most artists said that they were doing well. An additional layout change was to move the Friday, Saturday, Sunday spaces down to the point and they turned the food booths around to face the forty booth spaces that were located there. Everyone's first impression was that the spaces wouldn't work do to the separation from the rest of the show in Gateway Center on the other side of the Hilton. But it turned out that most of the artists in the new location did well there and some first weekend artists even requested to come back for the second weekend if space became available due to cancellations. It's exciting to see that kind of change in an arts festival that's been around so long. I hope they keep the length of the show to two weeks from now on. 

Manayunk Art Show favors sponsors over artists

When will they learn that the public doesn't attend an art show because businesses with bull horns stand in the street and hawk their products. There was a recent review of the show posted to one of the art show forums. Here's a condensed version:
I Just did the Manayunk Art Festival in Philadelphia. NO MORE. Crowds were huge, that is the only positive point. Everything else was negative. The Manayunk Development Corp. which runs this show has probably given space to every sponsor who applied. So, every 6th-8th booth on each side of the road was a sponsor booth. They created a major distraction by being loud and noisy, and at least one using a bullhorn to hawk their products. The same problem with the food. Every 10th booth was either a food booth or one of the restaurants that expanded into the show perimeter. Again, this is where most of the money went from visitors. They also created noise and played loud music. It was reported that when one of the artists complained to the show staff about the sponsor using a loud bullhorn, they were told that the show wouldn't do anything about it. In addition to all this, young kids vandalized a few booths at night and broke some windows of a few shops. Music was very loud, coming from all direction, which was extremely annoying. There were at least 70 low end flea market type jewelry booths, about 25% of all exhibitors. So, Manayunk is no longer an art festival. It's a food plus sponsor plus music festival.

A little personal perspective here. I used to do the Manayunk show. Of all the shows I've done, it was the only show where I could hang the outside wall of my booth with my 1970's basketball photos and feel like I fit right in.

Patriotic Puppy Dog

Xena's July Fourth portrait
You can see more pictures of Xena on my web site.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

ZAPP User Conference Aug 19-21

Bruce Baker and Larry Berman

I've been asked to be a speaker at the ZAPP user conference in Denver and at my recommendation they've also asked Bruce Baker to be my co-speaker. Though our talk is tentatively scheduled for Friday morning August 21st, we're still negotiating on the amount of time we need. I will be donating my digital imaging services as a door prize to one lucky attendee - $140 value. You can read more about my seminar and download my seminar prespectus from my web site.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Throwing Away Art

Dumpster filled with art
I recently started cleaning out the garage. The photographer Emerson once told me that he envied me changing styles every few years but that I must have a garage full of old photographs that hadn't sold. Right he was. I started throwing away everything older than ten years old. Most of that was the thousands of teddy bear, kittens and baby duck photographs that were left over going back almost twenty years. The interesting thing is that they were probably the most commercial photography ever sold at art shows. Many a week that I sold in the 500 print range. 

For as well as they sold at art shows, it was a total bust trying to sell them from a web site. BermanBears was my first web site and I don't think I made even four sales from it. The dumpster picture is really the third time I filled it and I still have more photographs to throw out from that era.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Setting Up an Art Show Booth

Josh Trefethen created a time lapse video setting up his booth at ArtFest Dallas in May. He used a Nikon D300 with 18-200mm lens, set to take one shot (at low quality JPEG) every 15 seconds for 3 hours and 40 minutes. He then created a 12 frame per second video using Quicktime and iMovie. You can see the video on YouTube in high resolution.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Artist offered Waiting List Space for $100 over Booth Fee

Posted to one of the art show forums. An artist was on the waitlist for the Virginia Highland art show, which has a $300 booth fee. He said the show contacted him and offered him a space for $400. Another artist, upon hearing of this, said he had a similar experience with the same show. He was offered the opportunity to set up one day early if he paid a $50 additional fee. Considering the congested area and set-up hassle, he decided to do so but when he pulled out his check book, the show staffer told him cash only. After a few words he relented and told the show person to give him a receipt. He was told no, they could not give him a receipt. The artist refused to pay cash without a receipt and the show finally gave him a hand-written receipt.

According to their web site, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization. I wonder where the extra cash collected by the show staff goes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May the Best Jury Slides Win

According to the Reston web site, the 2009 award winners will have their work for sale at the preview party the evening before the show starts. If I'm reading it correctly, they must have juried for awards months before the show and that sends a message that the images of the artwork are more important than the actual artwork - NOT. Art shows are about art, not pictures of art.

In a post Ginny Herzog made on the NAIA forum, she verified that this was true and that the art center charged $50 - $75 admission to the preview night plus took a commission from any work sold by the award winning artists.

This would have never happened when Mary Saunders was director and the jurors walked the show on Saturday (like they specified in their application) and chose the award winners by looking at the actual artwork. Where are the artist advisors when you need them. Ginny, Paul Germain and I were artist advisors to the old regime and Mary Saunders would have asked before they would have made such a decision.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Creativity After Art Shows

I started a new project the same week I sold my van and gave up art shows. I've been shooting jury slides for the past few years and have a studio set up in my living room. As an ongoing project, I've decided to photograph everyone that comes to my house with something they brought. I keep a book of prints by the door so I can show prospective subjects what I'm doing. You can see the complete gallery of images on my web site.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Poetic Justice

Read about this on one of the forums. At Tulsa Mayfest, a few artists had some pieces stolen. They gave a description to the police and a few hours later the police informed them that they had caught the guy with the stolen work. The artists were reluctant to prosecute because they were from out of state and would be required to return to testify at a trial. When arrested, the guy also had $600 in cash. So the police struck a deal. The guy went free, but he was required to pay for the work he stole.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guy McDonald Supports Art Show Community

Guy McDonald has supported the art show community for over 18 years providing a credit card solution for artists. Even I use his credit card services having switched when my old credit card machine died early in 2008. But what prompted me to write about Guy McDonald is that his company, TeaMac Inc., is absorbing the latest rate increase by Mastercard and Visa and not passing it on to the artists. Also, you should read his about page to see some of the other things his company has done for artists.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sarasota Craft Show Lives On

Richard Rothbard

What strikes me as strange in this economy is that promoters with over twenty years experience will cancel shows because they can't get enough artists at their prohibitively high booth fees, instead of offering booth fee reductions and making less profit for a year or two, enabling the artists to do shows at a rate they can afford and continue to stay in business. And it may not be only a year or two, the business of art and craft shows may be changing forever. More about that another time.

In a move that doesn't surprise me, Richard Rothbard has taken over the Sarasota (formally ACC) December dates and offering a much lower booth fee. He sent out the following e-mail:

Good News regarding ACC Sarasota & Charlotte Shows
"The Sarasota Craft Show is on! The Charlotte Show is on the table waiting for a consensus from Charlotte exhibitors. To ALL ACC exhibitors This is your special INVITATION to both Sarasota and Charlotte, so SAVE THE DATES. The shows will be managed by Richard & Joanna Rothbard of American Art Marketing who have 28 years of experience in show management, are NYC gallery owners since 1985 and exhibiting artists for almost 3 decades. Booth fees will be substantially lower, same high standards, and we will be working with the marketing team that has made the event so successful. Further details, Invitation & Application forms will be available on our website by May 7/8. Show dates: December 4,5,6. and November 6,7,8.
Those of you who would like to see Charlotte continue this year need to respond accordingly. The Sarasota Show is under contract...I am looking forward to hearing from you.
If you wish to receive a hard copy application by snail mail or have questions please email your request to e-mail Richard or call 800-834-9437"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Not To Ask For Digital Images

I get calls about this all the time from confused artists. A show is asking for digital images that meet the following requirements, "300DPI or larger." or how about this one that I came across when I helped a local artist prepare images for an application; "Save photos as JPEGs at 400 dpi. The higher the resolution, the better to see your artwork!"

Only actual pixels matter, and images should be defined in height and width in pixels.

DPI is dots per inch that a printer puts down on paper. PPI is pixels per inch and is the density of the pixels within the image. Neither PPI nor DPI is the size of the image and has no relationship to how large an image displays on a monitor or is digitally projected. In fact, an image that is 1920 pixels at 72 PPI is exactly the same file size, displays exactly the same viewable size, and has the same amount of detail in the jury room as an image that is 1920 pixels at 300PPI or even 1920 pixels at 4000PPI. Digital display devices like monitors or projectors only see actual pixels, not resolution. Resolution is only important when making a print where the closer together the ink dots are (DPI) usually means a higher quality print.

Pixels vs. Inches
Monitor and projector resolution is defined in pixels. Though you purchase monitors based on their size in inches or how much space they take up on a desktop, what displays on them is defined by their resolution in pixels. For example, 17 and 21 inch monitors, each set to 1024x768 will display a 500 pixel (long dimension) at the same proportional size taking up approximately 2/3 thirds of the height or 1/2 of the width. So when an art show asks for images size 5x7, they are referring to how large the image displays on the monitor they are using to write the instructions and it has no bearing on how large the images actually display on the monitors of the artists applying. That's why art shows need to ask for images in pixels.

Square images
Both monitors and projectors are horizontal format. Therefore if an image is asked for at 1024x768, the vertical size will be two thirds the horizontal size, and is unfair for any artist submitting vertical jury images. The beauty of the 1920x1920 pixel image format is that square images display both horizontal and vertical jury images exactly the same size. That's why the first day ZAPP released their image specifications, which were to be 1280x1920, I called and suggested that to be fair, they ask for a square image masked with black borders. In actuality, this is exactly the same as 35mm slides which can be rotated so that both horizontal and vertical openings are the same.

Digital Cameras and resolution
Digital cameras do not capture resolution, only actual pixels. You can decide what resolution you want by opening the image in Photoshop and unchecking resample before changing resolution. Resolution does absolutely nothing to file size as long as the pixel dimensions don't change. What's important is that you set your digital camera to capture the most amount of pixels at the highest image quality with the least amount of JPEG compression. Read my article on how to set your digital camera to photograph art.

Art Shows not using ZAPP or JAS but asking for digital images
For shows that don't understand digital images, I have two articles on my web site that I e-mail to any show interested in doing it in a way that's fair for all artists. How to ask for digital images and the best way to view digital jury images.

In summary
Asking for resolution isn't asking for an image, it's only asking for the density of the pixels in an image. You need to know the height and width of the image either in pixels (for monitor/projector jurying) or inches (for printing) to provide what they need, and this goes for any digital image submission, not just art show jurying.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Art in the High Desert Gives Feedback to Artists

Carla Fox, artist and director of Art in the High Desert has this to say about jury feedback.
"I found, as an artist, I was frustrated in not getting into some shows though I tried repeatedly with different images. I wanted to know more than just my score. Art in the High Desert is the only show I am aware of that works this hard to help artists improve their applications. We are offering a window into the jury room, as well as specific feedback on your specific application and images and how the jurors viewed them. The extra fee for jury feedback, was also explained in the prospectus. Here is what the prospectus states about jury feedback and it is far more than just scores.
Jury Feedback - If you would like feedback from the Art in the High Desert after the jurying we are happy to supply you with this. It consists of general comments from the jury room, a checklist of common concerns, as well as brief comments on your submission. The cost for this is $5. These are available until June 1, 2009. A SASE, your name & media, + a check is required for feedback."

The $5 jury feedback fee covers a whole new set of expenses. Each juror had a "Juror Feedback Form" for each artist. That is 4 jurors x 397 artists who applied =1588 pieces of paper. Board members also took notes of reactions in the jury room. All this paper must be sorted and cataloged. For each artist who wants feedback we check all the notes to compile their personal feedback. This takes a lot of time. And frankly is a pain in the butt. Each year I wonder why I fight for this feedback as the paper consumes my time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Detroit Festival of the Arts Cancelled for 2009

This was announced back in October on their web site:

The University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) has announced that it will not produce the Detroit Festival of the Arts in 2009 due to the construction of the Midtown Loop Greenway. The Loop will extend through a significant portion of the festival site. Please note that the Festival will return in 2010.

A legitimate reason, unlike most of the other shows that are canceling due to high booth fees and not enough artists applying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Apply to be on the Waiting List

Where are the artist advisors when you need them. A screen capture from the show's web site:
The 2009 ArtFest Midwest "The Other Art Show" takes place on June 27-28 in Des Moines. It's the local art show that runs at the same time as the nationally recognized Des Moines Art Festival. The original deadline was March 2 with notification March 21. But if you look at their application page on the web site it says, "April '09 *****PLEASE NOTE We have openings for the waiting list for the 2009 show and are accepting artist applications. If interested in the waiting list, we will waive the jury fee. There are also a few outdoor demonstrating artist booths available. Follow normal application process or email or call for further info."
It also says further down on the page that "payment of booth fee is a guarantee to exhibit. Booth fee is non-refundable".

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Artwork Photographer Provides Strange Color Files

I occasionally get images to correct where the photographer has given the artist images of their work with color that looked weird. In the above example, the photographer had shot RAW and converted his files to the Prophoto rgb color space. In simple terms, the Prophoto color space has more color information than the Adobe RGB color space which has more color information than the sRGB color space. But you need a color managed program (like Photoshop) to view the Prophoto files properly, otherwise you'll see the image on the right when you should be seeing the image on the left.

Working in the Prophoto color space is fine, but the photographer also needs to understand the limitations of their client. Not everyone has access to a program like Photoshop, which can read the color information and display it accurately. Therefore the image should have been converted to the sRGB color space and before being given to the artist, which is also the default color space for digital jurying for art shows.

Good Art Doesn't Have To Match Your Couch

Artwork as a Bulletin Board

Every wonder what your customers do with the artwork they purchase? That painting or photograph is probably hanging over the couch being appreciated by all who view it. But sometimes it has an unexpected use, like this reproduction (I certainly hope it's not an original painting) hanging at the nurses station, being used as a bulletin board at the hospital where I was visiting a friend.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art Show Tries to Give Feedback to Artists

In an interview with a 2009 Brookside juror, I was told that Brookside was saving juror comments for the artists in the "comments" line of the ZAPP scoring page. A number of artists asked where they could find those comments. An artist contacted the show and sent me this e-mail:
"I have done some checking with Donna Potts, the show director at Brookside, and she has found out from Zapp that artists are currently unable to access the juror comments. According to Donna, Zapp hopes to make that available next year. Donna was not aware that artists couldn't access the feedback and wishes she had known."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It Feels Good to Buy Handmade

by Jerry Kermode
Throughout the early 70s at the end of the hippie movement, it was a time to reflect about the craziness of the 60s; the Vietnam era and the civil unrest that had come before. One of the things that has made America great is the people and things we’ve done with our hands and our brains; the entrepreneurs. And that’s what crafters are. And so my feeling is that the general population wanted to be around the people who made things by hand doing what they could do best. It was a good thing to be around us and everyone bought a funky little coffee mug and people hung out at the parks and played the guitars. It was a fun time. We did our first show in Laguna Beach in 1970 and I remember it rained so hard that we made the newspaper because we had a couple of friends with guitars and a violin and everyone huddled under our tent singing and playing music. I don’t remember making any money. Both the hippies and the rich people flocked to those shows. It was just a fun time to buy really high quality stuff made by the people standing in front of you. An acknowledgement of what America was, and still is today. And I think people are reaching back for that because those were the things that really had meaning and made people feel good.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wendy Rosen on Why the Jury System is Flawed

From a conversation with Wendy Rosen, director of the Buyers Market of American Craft, the nation’s largest wholesale craft trade show.
The standard craft show jury system does not allow for the revelation of whose work you’re looking at, and so you could be looking at derivative work made by someone who’s actually copying the original designs of someone else. That’s the first reason. The second reason is that sometimes photographs of great work look terrible and photographs of bad work looks great. The photographs are not always representational, and the worst thing that an artist can do is take their own photographs. Click here to read the entire article.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

ACC Cancels Charlotte and Sarasota

The ACC Charlotte (Nov 6-8) and Sarasota (Dec 4-6) shows for 2009 have been cancelled.

This is the e-mail that was sent to the artists:

Dear Artists,
As our valued partners in presenting some of the nation’s best craft shows, I’d like to share important news about program changes at the Council: the American Craft Council's shows in Charlotte and Sarasota are being cancelled. Like other industries, the arts – especially nonprofit arts organizations – are facing severe economic challenges locally and nationally. We are dedicated to our mission of promoting understanding and appreciation of contemporary American craft. Although we regret closing these two shows, we are reaffirming our commitment to our core programs while at the same time finding the need to make difficult program cuts.

The Charlotte and Sarasota shows have provided great community outreach but unfortunately have experienced a decline in artist participation, public attendance and revenue. It no longer makes sense for the Council to subsidize these losses. This change will allow us to focus on our four shows located in diverse geographic areas: the flagship show in Baltimore and the shows in Atlanta, St. Paul, and San Francisco. Through these four shows, the Council will concentrate on presenting the best shows and best work for our artists, members and public audiences. We look forward to working with all artists who choose to present some of the nation’s finest craft at these venues.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lincoln Center September Shows Cancelled

The ACAC has cancelled the two Lincoln Center September shows (Sept 5-6 and 12-13) due to lack of applications. They will still have their June Lincoln Center shows as well as their May and October Nassau County Museum of Art shows.

Boston Mills Jury - Round II

On March 26, Boston Mills sent out the following e-mail to artists that unknowingly had problems with their application last month.

Dear Artist,
Growing pains inevitably accompany any new system of doing things, and we have had a few growing pains with our new system of jurying for the Boston Mills Artfest. We tried to make our application as easy as possible, and we also tried to extend the deadline as long as we possibily could to give people more time to figure out the new application process.

Unfortunately, there were a handful of artists whose applications were found to be incomplete on jurying weekend for various reasons. And because of the later deadline, we did not always catch the incompletes in time to contact the artists and have them fill in the missing information before jurying. You are one of those artists whose work was not juried in February - and this is because we either did not receive images from you, or the images that we did receive were not able to be opened or viewed correctly.

Don't worry, though, you can still be considered for a spot in the 2009 Boston Mills Artfest. This email is to let you know of an alternate jurying process that we are holding just for you. If you can get us your digital images by Tuesday, March 31st, we will review them and let you know whether you are accepted into the show.  

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email them over as well. We appreciate your patience as we work though these growing pains, and we look forward to considering your images for our second jurying.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Improved Booth Slide

Almost every artist knows how important a professional looking booth slide needs to be. Though a show may never tell you how it’s going to be used, at the very least it will be used to break a tie if two or more artists have the same jury score. And in the case of work where the size isn't clear, it will be used to give the jurors a sense of scale.

To improve their booth slide, I work with artists having them set up their booth in their house or backyard and then e-mail me the images while the booth is still set up. Then I make suggestions on the placement of the items in the booth, camera position or how the exposure can be improved enough for me to do the final post processing and make it look like a professional display photo. The result gives them a better chance of getting into shows. Click here to read the entire article.

The original booth slide