What if the job you hold now made you interview for your position every year? Wouldn’t it be horrible to have a job with absolutely no job security??? What if you had a job where you had to send your resume and re-interview every month? Or every week? Well, that is the life of a full time show artist. And it’s not for the faint of heart by any means…
Now-a-days, it’s relatively easy to find out where shows are. There are several webpages for show listings/applications, and the whole process is electronic. However, when I started doing shows in 1997ish, you had to know about the shows (generally through word of mouth) and call he show director to send you an application. The application itself used to involve slides or images of your work and display labeled to their unique specifications (some wanted a red dot some an arrow, some your name, some a pin #, etc). It was a really annoying process. The paper part of the application may include a place for your artist statement, bio, show history or nothing at all. The application process was arduous. In current years the process has become more streamlined because of technology. The application websites store a lot of the information, so the actual filling out of the applications is a breeze compared to the old days, however now that the applications are readily available to everyone, the competition (number of artists applying for each available spot) went up exponentially.
The jury processes vary by show, but most use a ‘blind’ jury system. Therefore, the jury does not know the names of the artists that they are jurying for fairness. The applications are broken into categories (jewelry, ceramics, fibers, etc) so each artist is judged against artists in their own field. Many juries go through 1000’s of applications (not an exaggeration) over the course of several days with several rounds until they arrive at the magical number of people that fill the available spaces in their show. So, in many cases I am competing with upwards of 300 people in my category (or more — the jewelry category tends to get the most applications of all the categories) to fill maybe 20 available spots. So, the applications go out, and the rejections come back. But, when there is an acceptance letter, it makes the feeling of accomplishment extra sweet knowing how hard it was to just get in.
Do you think you could live that way???