Sunday, May 10, 2015

Entering Art $hows

I haven't entered very many juried art shows. I was thrilled to get my Twix Mini piece into the CPSA International Exhibition 5 years ago, then didn't enter anything again until the UArt Show here last year. Not sure why exactly, just not motivated I guess, or unwilling to get on that merry-go-round, for whatever reasons. 

OK, wait, maybe I do know. Its expensive

I know its gauche to talk about money. But if you're trying to make a living as an artist, and you want to do the 'show circuit', you need to know what you're getting into.

First, there's the entry fee. That's typically $20-$35 per piece, with sometimes a discount if you enter more than one piece.
Then you have to get the piece framed (not everything needs to be framed, but I'm talking about drawings, which definitely do).
Then you have to ship the art to wherever the show is (if you get in), and arrange to have it shipped back.
That all adds up!

I was excited to have my Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast piece accepted into this year's CPSA International Exhibition. Its the only piece I entered, and the entry fee was $25. I took the art in to be framed the other day, and that will cost roughly $250 (simple but elegant natural wood frame with plexiglass, for an 11" x 17" drawing). Next I will have to ship it, and have no idea what that will cost. I will do FedEx, and will have to arrange for the return shipping as well. $100 maybe? (That might be a little high, or not. I can't remember what it cost last time.) Then there's the shipping box itself. I have a special Airfloat Systems box that I'm hoping I can use again, if its the right size. I think the one I have cost $45 or so - its probably more $ now. And in addition to all of that, there's a $40 cartage fee required for the show. So lets' add that all up, shall we? 

Entry fee: $25
Framing: $250
Box: $45
Shipping: $100 (estimated guess)
Cartage: $40
Total: $460 (or so)

Lets' just say $450 to make it easier. That's not cheap, is it?
And if you enter more than one show a year, with different pieces of art, that can really add up fast.

On a whim, and at the 11th hour of the entry deadline day, I decided to enter my Berry Tart piece in the CA State Fair this year. I have no expectations whatsoever of getting in, since this is a state-wide show, with so many different kinds of art being entered, but I decided to go for it.

Notice the Sale/Price Value I put on the art: $2,000.
This piece is already framed, since I had it in the UArt show last year. The entry fee for the State Fair is only $20. And if it gets in, I can just hand deliver it because I live right here, a few miles away. So that will cost me way less than the CPSA show.

Also, I'm thinking 'gallery', someday, maybe. You have to consider the gallery fees (usually 50%), so a $2,000 piece will automatically only net $1,000. Subtract the framing, and that leaves $750. Not bad, but not $2,000. So even though $2,000 might seem high, it really isn't.

Ideally, we'd all win the big $$ awards in these shows, and that would offset the costs of entering!! Last year I did win a nice little sum in the UArt show with my Molasses Cookie drawing, and that definitely paid for the costs associated with entering. But you can't count on winning. You have to just enter, and hope for the best.

Its serious business being a fine artist and going this route. Its easy to get discouraged if you don't get accepted, let alone win anything. But I'm giving it a bit of a go, and we'll see what happens!


Melissa B. Tubbs said...

Paula I'm so glad you created this post. People need to know how expensive it is to be an artist, especially when they see a $2,000 price tag and think that the price is awfully high. Also included in that price is a lifetime of experience and skill to create the quality art that we create.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Paula, You hit the nail on the head. We rarely speak about how expensive it is to enter into juried shows. The expense goes well beyond the entry fees. Excellent article.

Jeanette Jobson said...

People really don't realize the costs incurred by artists from conception of a piece to showing. Many automatically think we get the full amount. I wish!

There is a set of thriving industries built up around artists and, like farmers, the artists don't often get the lion's share.

Good luck on the entries.

Beelzebub said...

Oh you are so right!
It's nice to win awards and perhaps they bring a certain amount of credibility or prestige to some viewers.
However, my opinion is that the price is too high.
Selling online is the best way to middlemen, dealers, brokers taking a cut of your money.
People like me can browse and buy what we like, no stress, no pressure.
By the time you get into a show, you have to set the price so much higher just to cover costs, that you automatically exclude a group of buyers who would buy something under $500 but never $1000+
(Like me!)
It's nice to be recognized, but recognition in the form of sales is, to my mind, sweeter than any award or show.
Married to an artist.