Art Fairs and Art Shows are different sorts of events, and use the term “jurying” to mean different things. “Jurying-in” is also a term used by art groups for a certain level of membership.
Art Fair participants purchase a “booth” space from the owners of the fair, and artists then equip their “booth” to display their artwork. The owner of an art fair makes money selling booth space, not individual pieces of art. The owner of the fair has in mind a particular customer base to attract, and selects the artwork for the fair based on what those customers will want; this process is called “jurying”. For example, the owner of a quality art fair with a sophisticated customer base will sell booth space only to artists with the best quality work overall. A homey craft fair, on the other hand, will sell booth space to vendors whose work is inexpensive and appealing to a very broad base of customers. Other fairs may be in between the two in deciding on who to sell space to, but in any case, the process of deciding who to accept is called “jurying”, and involves an overview of all work to be sold and often even includes evaluating the appearance of the artist’s “booth” arrangement and fittings. (See the section on Art Fairs for more ways the term “jurying” is used in art and craft fairs.)
Traditional jurying as for an art show (in a gallery or art center) involves looking at individual pieces, and customers are not part of the consideration. Art show jurying is done by one or two jurors who are respected and well known members of the art community, who give their opinion of the best work. Only a few pieces are selected from only a few of the artists who have submitted their art. At an art show the work may be for sale, but it is primarily presented with the ideal of enriching the public; “valuing the arts because they make our hearts wise – the highest of human goals”, “to celebrate life through art” and “to support the beneficial inclusion of fine art into community life.” (From various art center statements of purpose.)
Jurying-in is also used to the process of looking over and artist’s work when joining an art group. An overview is made of an artist’s work, with an eye to how well the applying artist will fit in with the specific art group and its specific goals. We have posted some standard guidelines, “General standards for jurying”, describing what artists can generally expect of jurying by other artists, but it is subjective, not a checklist, and may vary with the needs of the group. Examples from other organizations of jurying-in requirements:
- The Kiln Club (fine art pottery) details technical and aesthetic criteria
- Notes on Artist Member Jurying (PDF) from the California Art Club (an Arts & Crafts era organization) emphasizing requirements for paintings
Art Fairs, Art Shows, Art Hops
An Art Show consists of only a few pieces of work from each artist (unless it is a “one-man show”). There are no “booths” (see the section on Art Fairs) as all of the artwork from different artists is placed together, and “hanging a show” is an exercise in creating a flow between the work of different artists placed in the same area. Artwork usually may be purchased at an art show, but the work cannot be removed until the show has ended-sometimes a period of several months-different from purchasing at a fair, where the buyer takes possession of the artwork immediately. Juried shows are prestigious events and are usually held indoors in museums or galleries. In a juried art show, artists submit the specified number of pieces to the juror, usually a respected and well known member of the art community. Only a few pieces are selected from only a few of the artists who have submitted their work. The emphasis is on presenting the public with the very best artwork (from that particular juror’s point of view.) A show “opening” is a reception for the artists and the public (often involving wine and cheese) held on the official first day of the show. It is an honor for artists to be included in a juried show.
Art Fairs (also called art and craft fairs) are held in large indoor or outdoor areas. When held outdoors, they are great warm-weather entertainment for the whole family and attract large numbers of people. Specialized fairs may be found that sell everything everything from fine art from the best galleries to fairs for crafters selling hobby-type crafts. For the public, art fairs are a great way to meet artists and buy items that interest them. Painters, printmakers and photographers often offer affordable reproductions of their work and inexpensive cards based on their work. Fine art crafts such as fiber art, fine jewelry, and ceramics may be less expensive than they would be in a gallery.
International art fairs in big cities around the world are huge events, very expensive to enter and very selective of the artwork to be displayed to their big-business and millionaire customers.
Regional art fairs are more affordable, and provide a place for local artists to present and sell their work to a very wide audience. There are many sorts of these regional fairs, with greatly varying quality of work. Fairs emphasizing original fine arts and fine art crafts such as fine art ceramics, painting, prints, photography, fiber arts, and metalwork are of the most interest to artists, although there are also specific “craft fairs” for commercial-type crafts and hobby crafters who make inexpensive bead jewelry, home decor items and such for the widest possible customer base.
How it works: Art Fair participants purchase a “booth” space from the owners of the fair, which the artists equip to display their artwork. Indoor fairs have the artwork hung on movable wall panels, and outdoor fairs have the panels under an awning or tent.“Booth” fittings may range from a card table under a pop-up to elaborate and expensive display panels and canvas tents. Artists may have as much of their work as will fit in their “booth” space – it is in effect a little store. This is different from an art show where one or a few pieces from several different artists are placed in the same room or area (there are no “booths” in an art show.)
Often art & craft fairs are “juried“, which is done differently from jurying for a juried art show. The “jurying” for an art & craft fair is a check by the fair owners (or a committee selected by the owners) of photos of representative samples of the artist or crafter’s work (sometimes requiring photos of all the items to be offered for sale) and photos of the “booth” or display and tenting arrangement to be used. The type of work offered also will affect whether or not the artist will be able to purchase a booth (“juried in”)-if too many artists offer work in the same media or style, some artists may be turned down despite having very fine quality work, since the fair owners will want to present a variety of offferings to the buying public.
A primary purpose of art & craft fair “jurying” is to assure that both the “booth” and the work that will be offered for sale in general will be consistent and not fall below the standard the fair owners have set. In this way, customers will know what to expect to find at the art fair, and, if the art fair has been correctly targeted, there will be a large customer turnout for the fair. If there is a large turnout, the fair owner will sell even more “booth” spaces at the next fair; and since selling booth spaces is the business of art fairs, all will be well.
More uses of the term “jurying” for arts fairs and crafts fairs
Craft items that appear to be handicrafts may instead be mass produced in Chinese factories; examples of manufactured “handicrafts” may be found in box stores like WalMart and big craft stores like Michael’s or HobbyLobby. Since it is difficult to tell if such handicrafts are made or purchased, craft fair owners may want proof that the items to be sold are handmade – and call that process “jurying” or “soft jurying“. Fairs which are operated by art organizations tend to look for a much higher level of artistry in the submitted examples than fairs run by entrepreneurs, so artists may not encounter “soft jurying” in more sophisticated venues.
If there are more requests to purchase “booth” space in a fair than there are spaces available, the owners of the fair will make decisions about which applicants to accept, a process which is referred to as “highly juried“. In this case, the fair owners’ decisions may be made on artistic quality overall (unlike the individual piece jurying done for an art show) or the fair owners may use some other criteria important to customers to decide which sellers to accept.
To add to the confusion, there may be a juried art show held along with the juried art fair, with individual artworks juried as in a regular art show and sometimes prizes awarded. Prizewinning juried artworks are displayed in the artist’s booth along with the artist’s other work for sale, which was “juried” in the art & craft fair sense. No wonder people are confused as to what “juried” means!
Crafts fair jurying emphasizes saleability of an individual’s items and the general effect of the individual “booth” on the “shopping experience for our attendees”. Some of the “jurying standards” for overall work at a quality crafts fair are listed on http://www.hellocraft.com and include design and craftsmanship, functionality, “Does it look like there was time invested”, uniqueness, “Would we buy this or recommend it to someone?” and “Does this vendor appeal to a large group of shoppers, or would their products only appeal to a very niche group?”
Art Hops are held in many communities. The idea is to visit artist studios and galleries, to “hop” from studio to studio all in the same evening. Each studio or gallery is set up like a mini show opening, with food and drink, a long party! Another sort of Art Hop is held in a small geographic area, usually with the artwork hanging in stores and restaurants all within a short stroll, with the artists in each venue available for conversation. The party atmosphere still prevails, with the food and drink provided by the store owner. Artists present whatever they want, for sale or not, for the opportunity to meet the public. Watch Facebook and the Guild website for news about upcoming Three Rivers Art Hops!