Entering your artwork in shows — local, regional, or national — is not an inexpensive proposition. There are entry fees, which can range from $5 to $50 per piece — as well as costs to box, ship, send, insure, and return your work should it be accepted. Oh, and those entry fees? They apply whether your work is accepted or not, and depending upon the size of the show, “or not,” may be a very real option.
“But think of the exposure if I get in,” you tell yourself. Well, there is, that, but the exposure may not be as grand as you think. Some shows attract the same crowd, year after year; others, which promise exposure through national magazines, take out an ad, one in which your painting does not appear. The top tier shows, the ones that really do draw in crowds, are not particularly friendly to newbies.
So is it even worth it, doing shows? The Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, has entered and continues to enter shows, but we have found that far more sales occur in other venues — through the website, through contact with individual clients, through Facebook, even — than they do through shows. And doing the math at the end of the year — calculating entry fees, shipping, and shipping back — we find that there are more efficient ways to turn a profit.
Being Abnormal, an article by Carolyn Henderson in Fine Art Views (and yes, that’s me, the same person writing this article), talks about doing things differently, including entering, or not entering shows. After you read this article, make sure to check out the comments from the various artist readers; frequently, in any online article, the most interesting information comes from the comments, and most especially from the people who comment through the Fine Art Views site.
So what about you? Have you entered shows? Has it been a profitable experience? Or do you find that you’ve picked up more in experience than you have in monetary compensation?
There are a lot of people out there these days trying to make money off of artists, and one of these ways is through assessing entry fees on shows. I’ve always found that it’s worth being wary of the continuous e-mails in your inbox announcing, “We’ve extended the entry date for this show! You have another two weeks to enter!” Two weeks later, the deadline is extended by another week.
Also not a good sign is a show that is exclusively online. While there are verifiable and legitimate online shows, online events are increasing, and it is becoming easier and easier to put them on. Make sure that, when you send your money and enter your artwork, that there is the potential for something good to happen — actual exposure, to people who are genuinely looking to by art, comes to mind.