The "All-Important" Booth Shot

The 2019 edition of Joeytown, also known as my booth shot

The 2019 edition of Joeytown, also known as my booth shot

In many years of participating in art shows, one comes to learn the importance of your booth shot. It may be the most critical component of your show application. It can make or break your chances of getting accepted into any given art show. One of the most exciting aspects of being an independent artist and applying for the best shows across the country is not knowing what shows will hand you an invitation this year, but it can also be the most disappointing part as well.

When chatting with customers, many don’t realize that there is a jury process to get into reputable art shows. Shows require artists to submit an application asking for a description of their creative process, their artist’s statement, photos of their work and a photo of their booth as it will be displayed at the show. More often than not, at least for me when applying to the higher-end shows, the reply is a rejection not an invitation.

For example, I applied to the Utah Arts Festival four years in a row before finally being accepted on the fifth attempt. When I did the show in 2016, it turned out to be the best show of my career, so it was worth the wait. But the rejections are hard to take when you think you’ve got it right and they never come with any explanations as shows are not required to give reasons for declining your application. This leaves little direction for improvement.

For me, I think the whimsical nature of my work softens my chances of getting accepted into many shows because it does not convey the high-end vibe that many art shows wish to emit. I also believe many jurors forget that it’s okay to have fun art mixed in with serious art for the patrons strolling through the show. As we all know the art world is subjective, so I can only speculate on the reasons why I don’t get offered a spot at every show. I’m just grateful for the successful opportunities that I’ve had.

Last year I made some changes to my booth to create a greater impression on my customers and the show juries. First, I made the booth taller so that I can display more artwork. Second, I implemented a set of shelves to display my books more prominently, because this is the only way I can let juries know that I also write & illustrates books in addition to my artwork. Lastly, I had to make a space for storage within the booth since I have so many images that I try to keep in stock at shows. I’ll let you know how my strategy works in 2019.