Resources To Find Your Best Shows Plan Your Schedule With These Tips

February 2023, by Brenda Flynn

Where do you find shows? Ask any artist on the show circuit that question these days, and the answer is bound to vary. 

An exhibiting artist myself, I am always eager to find shows to add to my schedule but must find the right ones. None of us have the time or money to waste on shows that do not fit with the art we are selling. 

My personal approach is primarily word of mouth from other artists, Sunshine Artist’s print version, and ZAPP. I scan online listings every few days as well. 

I am always asking other artists about shows in a particular region. In fact, one of my best shows started as a referral from another artist who specializes in fine art stone and metal sculpture. He suggested the Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and it has been a super show for my work for two straight years. 

Print and Online Sources 

Sunshine Artist’s event listings is a resource for artists. 

Like many artists, I also rely on online resources that allow me to skim the listings for shows in the months or areas I am looking for, find contact information for the shows, and read articles about art fairs. 

Among the recognizable names in the print business and now branching out by leaps and bounds in the online field is Sunshine Artist. I have written show reviews and feature articles for the magazine since its early days. I always sat down with the print version of the magazine to check out all the listed shows, and I circled ones I wished to investigate further as possible additions to my schedule. 

Some artists now prefer the digital version. Celia Boch, a jeweler I met years ago and spoke with recently at a show, started a subscription for the magazine’s print version. 

While she prefers the print version, she has started relying on the digital version due to being on the road for months at a time. “It’s almost easier, to tell you the truth. I can look into shows while I’m in the RV after the first day of a show and catch up on new shows entering the art scene,” Boch said. 

Reviews and Artist Referrals 

Another jewelry artist, who works primarily with silver and copper, said she prefers “to read show reviews and synopses of shows” before deciding where she wants to apply. “I like to try and do at least two or three a month if I can keep my inventory high enough, and if I can have a listing of shows from week to week and line them up, it’s more efficient,” she said. 

Her primary resource for show information is an online source that features art show reviews by artists. She also said, “Contacting other artists in the same media helps tremendously in my decisions,” because she believes fine jewelry artists have a much different set of clients and customers than other artists in different fields. 

“When you talk to other silversmiths, they can let you know how shows have worked out for them in different regions and states, and if the shows are saturated with jewelry,” she said. “I’ve done shows in tiny little venues, maybe 50 artists in total, and I’m the only jeweler, and still not made expenses, because the money isn’t there.” 

She goes online to target specific shows in an area she will be in, hoping to add one or two shows in the same month. “I can usually contact the show promoter from the site, and they may have an opening if the deadline is close or passed, and I can slide into a cancellation immediately. Never hurts to ask!” she said. 

Find and Apply

Many artists know about ZAPP for finding and applying to shows all in one fell swoop. When ZAPP first arrived on the art scene, it was a time-saving tool for artists. Looking up shows is easy and applying to them is even easier. You upload your portfolio, fill out the show applications, and pay your jury fees online at one time. 

If the show subscribes to and publishes its event on ZAPP, it is there, year after year. However, that is the key: The show uses the service to advertise its event. 

If they are “old school,” they are not going to be on ZAPP. Then you must fill out paper applications, print your photos, and send the information in the mail, although some now use the email process as well. 

This page and a wealth of other resources are available to Sunshine Artist subscribers.

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