Jury Success: How to Put Your Best Foot Forward

Thoughts about the jury process … the competition is fierce

Artists often ask for our thoughts about their jury images — sometimes before they apply and sometimes after the jury results are announced. Based on viewing thousands of images and talking to many artists we thought it might also be helpful to share some of our thoughts here.

Image Size

If you’re applying to a show that uses ZAPP, then you have 1920 x 1920 to use for your images. Some ideas for thought:

  • Are you using all the space most effectively?
  • Would some strategic cropping showcase your artwork better?
  • Did you pick artwork that both portrays your work well and looks great in a 1920 x 1920 space?
  • Are those black bars decreasing the impact of your artwork?
  • Could you make adjustments and get rid of black bars to gain impact with the jurors?

Here are some examples to illustrate these points. (Images are 1920 x 1920 as submitted to ZAPP by the artist.)

Change It Up

Is the artwork in your jury images keeping up with your current body of work?

Do your individual images coordinate with each other in their style and in use of the 1920 x 1920 space?

Does the artwork in the individual images coordinate with your booth shot or are you confusing the jurors?

Do you need to freshen up any images to gain impact with the jurors?

Booth Shots: Our Window To Your Display

The most frequent questions we hear from artists regarding jury images are:

“What do you look for in a booth shot?” or

“Why are booth shots important?”

We know there are many viewpoints on these questions and we encourage artists to ask many festival directors these questions. Here are some examples of what we’ve found to be effective booth shots:

You can see from these examples some of the things that can make for an effective booth shot:

  • The artist’s booth looks like an outdoor art gallery — a true depiction of the artist’s booth rather than a Photoshop constructed rendition.
  • The booth shot is tight and focused on the artist’s display — there is very little of the tent showing.
  • The artwork is nicely displayed and gives a complete impression of the artist’s work — again a true depiction of the artist’s booth rather than a Photoshop constructed rendition.
  • Tables for business cards, brochures or browse bins are attractive and cohesive with the look of the booth.
  • There is no extraneous clutter, signs with names, ribbons, unrelated artwork, people standing in the booth, etc.

Booth Shots: Why & How We Use Them

We are also often asked: “How do we use the booth shot”?

During the jury process we instruct jurors to use the booth shot to look at details such as:

  • Consistency in the artist’s work.
  • Scale of the artwork — sometimes very hard to determine in the artwork images.
  • Aesthetics of the the display of the artist’s work.

When there are ties in overall jury scores the booth slide frequently becomes the tiebreaker placing an artist as accepted instead of waitlisted … or waitlisted instead or not accepted.

During the process of laying out the art festival and giving booth assignments booth shots are one of the considerations to determine corner locations and other strategic locations. We pay a great deal of attention to creating an aesthetically pleasing show for our attendees and presentation plays critical role in those decisions.

Do You Have Thoughts to Share With Us? Questions About Your Images or About the Jury Process?

We love to talk with artists. Just give us a call at 239-768-3602 between 9AM & 5PM Eastern time. Or email our Director at Sharon.McAllister@ArtFestFortMyers.com.

We’re happy to spend time reviewing images and sharing our thoughts with individual artists, so feel free to call us anytime.

Of course, the caveat is “these are only our thoughts,” so use them in conjunction with your own thoughts and other people’s input. And if you have questions about what other art festival directors think, then call them and ask them. It’s our experience that they like talking with artists as much as we do.

We also encourage artists to go watch an actual jury process or jury preview day with shows that make that offer to artists, as we do. It gives you great insight into what your images look like to the jury and how they compare to your peers (aka competition). And if your images need updating or your booth setup looks “tired”, you could find just the inspiration to make some necessary changes.

ArtFest Fort Myers invites all artists to join us on jury preview day, at which time we can stop and chat about your images. Or on the actual jury day, when you can just watch the process. In mid-August we will notify all artists in our database with all the details so you can plan ahead. Be sure to sign up for the Artist Newsletter so you’re kept in the loop.

P.S. Making the Jury Work For You In Other Ways

The jury process can be a great and inexpensive research tool for artists. Many artists, as they continue to evolve, have more than one body of work. Applying independently, with each style of artwork, can be an effective way to “test market” a city/geographical area and determine which work is most likely to be well received.

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