How To Locate Art Fairs
Periodically I will receive the question: How do you apply to art fairs? The answer is pretty simple, yet also somewhat complex.
The short answer is I find out a fair I'm interest in, view its web site and secure the artist information. Send in my money and wait to see if I'm selected. Unfortunately, the short answer doesn't really help out the person just starting in fairs. Thus, I've expanded the answer with this article.
Determining Your Geographic Area
Before you can apply to a show, you need to know something about the show. This is the start of your research.
Art shows exist throughout the United States, and in all months. One can be kept very busy each weekend going from one show to another, from one end of the country to the other. Before applying to any shows, the artist must first identify the area of operation he or she wishes to operate. Do you want to go nationwide? Statewide? Or more local?
Personally, I have chosen to do shows within 1 3/4 hours or less from my home. While this may limit me, it also manages my budget. I can come home each night, sleep at home, eat at home, and not add to the expenses incurred at the show. Doing a show much further away requires overnights in motels, or staying at campgrounds.
Also, by identifying this area of operation, I don't spend any time considering shows outside of this area. And ideally, I become better known within this area.
Finding The Shows
Once you've identified your area of operation, now it is time to look for the shows. There are many resources available for this pursuit:
Search Engine - Type in "art shows (your state)". You'll be amazed at what is provided. One link to a show or event will lead to another, and suddenly you are spending a few hours reading and recording needed information about each show. (Hint - Bookmark the show's web site for future reference. Saves time!)
ZAPP - www.zapplication.org - Many, though not all by any means, art shows place their event on ZAPP. Sign up, it is free. The artist can search for shows (that are on ZAPP) by state. Each show provides information about their event, including date, pricing, amenities, etc. The artist can easily apply to the show through ZAPP. It only takes a few minutes through this on-line service. Payment is also easily handled through PayPal.
Art Fair Calendar.com - www.artfaircalendar.com - Lists shows and events.
Art Fair Insiders Blog - www.artfairinsiders.com This site provides a very informative blog (sent via weekly email) that is well worth reading, at least initially when you are starting out. Because it is written by artists doing shows, you'll see a variety of opinions about different topics.
Midwest Art Fairs - www.midwestartfairs.com - If you are in the midwest, this site provides quite a listing of shows and events in the upper midwest.
Other artists - Either directly from an artist's web site, or by asking them, artists are very willing to share what fairs they attend.
These are just a few of the sources I use to find shows. You'll need to use more than one source when researching your show selection.
When doing your research, not all shows are created equal. Some have a greater attendance, some offer different amenities. Some have easy load-in and load-out, others not so much. Read the information carefully, and decide if it is something you'd like.
Once you've created your list of shows you'd like to attend, now comes the application process.
Each show will have its own application. All the shows on ZAPP are somewhat similar format. There is a short questionnaire about you and your product, you attach 4-5 images with a booth shot, pay the jury fee with PayPal and you are all finished.
Other shows have a much lengthier process. Shows not on ZAPP will have their application and artist information available on their web site. Download this info and carefully fill out the application. Some shows require more information than others. If the application isn't complete, it could be cause for rejection!
Some shows require you to email images of your booth and product, others ask that these images be mailed with the application. The recommendation here is just do everything the application requests, including providing a self-addressed-stamped-envelop if required.
Before finalizing your application, you will also be required to pay the required jury fee. If you are filing via ZAPP, that payment is made through PayPal. If you are mailing in your application, then the payment will be made via check.
The jury fee is not the booth fee. It is fee to have your application reviewed and evaluated. Whether you are accepted or rejected, the jury fee is never returned. Make sure your application includes the jury fee.
The booth fee is also often required with the application, though not always. Some shows (those on ZAPP that I apply to), do not require the booth fee until the artist has been notified of selection. At that time, they require the booth fee. If not paid, the booth is then turned over to someone on the waiting list.
If the application requires the booth fee, this is typically request as a separate check. However, that isn't always the case either. Therefore, once again, follow the instructions of the event.
Sales Tax Number
Many shows will require you to provide your state sales tax number and federal ID number. Once these numbers are assigned to you by the respective agencies, you'll use the same numbers for all your art shows.
Submit, and Wait
All shows have a deadline for application submissions. If you miss this deadline, the show does not (and often, will not) consider your application. Therefore, know the target dates.
After your submission, just sit back, relax, and wait for the event's notice to you. Most shows will let you know via email. Some will use regular mail. The timeline for notification varies, from mid-February to late spring.
Accepted Or Rejected
If you are accepted, congratulations. You can start planning your display for that show.
If you are rejected, welcome to the crowd. Happens to everyone. Perhaps this year you'll just want to walk the show and see if it is worth applying to the following year. Most importantly, don't let it get you down. Rather, move forward with the shows you've been selected, and have a great season.