Faring Well at the Fair by Paul Dorrell

Art Fairs and Juried Art Shows

2015 Artist's & Graphic Designer's MarketParticipating in art fairs and juried art shows can be a great way to get exposure and sell your work. You might even win a cash prize. But most fairs have an application fee, and not all of them are a good use of your time and effort. So how do you choose which fairs are worth applying to? In his article “Faring Well at the Fair,” gallery owner Paul Dorrell covers the ins and outs of choosing the best art fairs and juried art shows for your work. You can read an excerpt of the art fairs article below. Read the complete article in the 2015 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market or on ArtistsMarketOnline.com. Don’t forget, you can also search through hundreds of art fair listings right here on AMO!

Keep creating and good luck!


Faring Well at the Fair: Make the Most of Art Fairs and Juried Shows by Paul Dorrell

juried art shows

The plaza Art Fair, a juried art show set up in Country Club Plaza, in Kansas City, is one of the municipality’s time-honored traditions. In 2012 the 240 artists’ exhibitions, live music shows, and kids’ art workshops attracted close to 300,000 visitors. The annual Plaza Art Fair takes place in late September.

After an artist achieves master status, he will rarely participate in an art fair unless it’s an exclusive event through a museum, gallery, or similar entity. But while he’s building up his reputation, it’s essential that he participate regularly in public exhibitions, whatever type of gig it may be. All of the artists I represent have shown in various exhibitions and fairs, as have most successful artists I know.

For those of you who execute only installation-based or avant-garde work, art fairs will be of little relevance. Instead you’ll want to seek out juried shows that are an appropriate venue for what you do—the edgier, the better, as long as the shows have strong attendance. But for the rest of you, the right series of fairs can help give your career a serious launch.

Art Fairs

In the worst case, an art fair is an outdoor event arranged by well-intentioned dilettantes for a largely indifferent public. Are they all this bad? No. Many are well run, providing excellent venues for selling work at the lower price levels and for meeting hordes of potential collectors. The trick is learning to choose between the fairs that are worthwhile and those that aren’t.
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Juried Shows

Regardless of whether the show is an outdoor fair or an indoor exhibition, it must be juried. It means nothing to be accepted into a nonjuried show. Besides, in nonjuried shows you don’t know what other kinds of work will be exhibited—you may be stuck next to some guy who does paint-by-number landscapes on saw blades.

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Shows that are well established are obviously the best choice, like the Navy Pier Show in Chicago (if you can afford the booth fees) or the Brookside Art Annual in Kansas City. But, even if the show is newer and doesn’t yet have a reputation, as long as it’s well run, well attended and in a proper setting, participating in it is better than letting your work sit in the studio and collect dust. You’re in the process of building up your résumé. It’s a gradual process, and you’ll have to be proactive and patient in carrying it out.

Finding These Venues

There are a number of ways you can research art fairs and shows:

The Internet: The simplest way to learn about shows and art fairs is to use the Internet. Enter appropriate keywords in a search and you’ll be off and running. If you’re only interested in fairs in a particular city or state, just specify that in your search. In addition, all states and major cities have arts commissions—at least at the time of this writing. Most arts commissions have listings of shows that are held in their region. Search their websites for information. If they list nothing, call and ask for guidance. Also ask to be put on their mailing lists. This will keep you informed of shows, as well as various commissions that may arise.
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Networking: The more shows you attend, the more you’ll become aware—other artists will help inform you, as will show organizers and attendees. Who knows? You might even sell some work along the way.

Paul Dorrell founded Leopold Gallery in 1991. His clients include Warner Bros., H&R Block, the Mayo Clinic and thousands of private collectors. He has written for numerous art magazines and spoken at venues such as the Rhode Island School of Design and the Art Students League of New York. To learn more about Dorrell and his work, go to www.leopoldgallery.com.

Excerpted from the June 2013 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Used with the kind permission of The Artist’s Magazine, a publication of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit www.theartistsmagazine.com to subscribe.


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