January 7, 2013 | Alyson Stanfield

Do The Math for the Juried Art Exhibition

An anonymous artist sent me an email with these stats.
The painting she is sending to a juried art exhibition sells for $1200.

Jim Carpenter Painting
©2012 Jim Carpenter, Storyboard VI. Acrylic on canvas, 4 x 12 inches. Used with permission.

Other fees involved – which don't include material, labor, or office time – are:
Framing $400
Shipping to 2 shows $300
Entry fees $70
Hanging fees $70
Box $50
For a total of $890.
$1200 – $890 = $310 “profit” (ha!)
If the work sells, the venue takes a 35% commission, which is $420.
That makes you $110 in the hole ($420-310)!

Why Enter Juried Art Exhibitions

Don't entered juried shows (especially ones across the country) in hopes of making money.
Do enter juried shows for experience.
Do enter juried shows to network with other artists and organizers.
Do enter juried shows because they produce nice catalogs and have a good track record (this artist received 2 catalogs for being in the show).

Your Resolution

Get smart about money! It's okay to invest money in experience and exposure as long as you know what you're doing and understand the financial implications.
Strategic planning is a big part of my No-Excuse Art Marketing Bootcamp, which begins soon. All of the details are here. I hope you'll join us and focus on business growth and smart decisions.

20 comments add a comment
  • Number one: Paying $400 to frame a small painting like that is absolutely ridiculous. Number 2: Maybe she should choose sites/contests that are a bit more reasonable; maybe even free? Number 3: She should be happy she sold the painting at all. So many aspiring artists out there never do.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Janet: Who said the painting was small?
      #2: That’s the point: do the math and figure out if it’s a good move for you.
      #3: Who said the painting sold?

      • Alyson Stanfield

        It might still be worth it if the networking is right, the juror is someone you want to see your art, etc.

        • There’s a picture right at the top of a painting, with very small dimensions in the description. However that artist’s name is “Jim”, so probably not the female painter and work described in the article.
          But I agree – spreadsheets are an artist’s friends.

  • Yes, this artist needs to get smart about money. If she shipped the painting to 1 gallery ($150) and the gallery takes 50% she still is only making $100 “profit”.

  • Whoa! I have done the math before, but this time it really hit me over the head.
    One thing about framing – maybe it’s best not to frame, as the possible client may not like the choice. Many pieces do not have to be framed if on gallery wrapped canvas or cradled board. Just an option to consider.
    It’s really easy to get caught up in the entire experience and not pay attention to how much we are truly spending.
    Thanks, Alyson

  • I only look for and enter competitions where I can hand deliver my work. In Southern Cal that isn’t too hard to do, but I’ve had really good luck in 2012 with selling my art at the show, getting some really good contacts and making new connections with gallery owners. I figure all expenses in my price and I do it because I think it’s fun! Just another way to get my art and name out there.

  • This looks like an advertisement for fiber art. Not framing and shipping is really cheap because we can roll it up – rarely costs more than $20-$30.
    Although my question is if we talk about the price of the frame separately – should the price of the canvas and paint and studio space and water and electricity also be included? The gas to drive to fedex and ship it? Sounds to me like the problem might be this artist hasn’t set her prices high enough.

  • Nilé Livingston

    It is important for artists to have time creating new art, networking and experiencing life without worries of market issues. Juried Art Exhibitions are designed to share your work with supporters who are willing to nourish your career. The brilliance of an open call is that it expands your exposure. It’s about learning how to present your work, inspire others, and collaborating in order to build awareness and appreciation for the art world. Interaction among fellow artists and innovators will arouse interest in your work and encourage you to explore different techniques, thus assuring further success of your work and building a community.
    I’m hosting a short film contest on my website http://nilelivingston.com/neighborhood/ In response to the creative minds that assemble short films for school, work, or fun; and after showing them to their peers the films are forgotten about. I want to re-surface and share these works. Please consider applying, it’s open to everyone everywhere.

  • catherine feeman

    The caption under the art in the article above said, 4″ x 12″. I think Janet (comment above), as well as I, thought that as the piece of art the stats was referring to. It’s certainly true that we need to be very purposeful, and informed, as to exhibitions we enter. Local exhibits eliminate shipping but framing is very expensive. Some exhibits even require the original art for jurying, which means all that shipping could be for nothing if your work does not get accepted!

  • Yep….that’s about right. They are soooo much work for such little return.

  • I did an experiment with juried shows in 2006. The shows did nothing for me (and the other artists) other than take money and hang art on their walls for the time of the show.
    A lot of time driving, dropping off art, picking up art that was not chosen, going to the openings, picking up art after not sold, and all this during my regular day job hours.
    I was in the red for over $600…and that does not include time and gasoline.
    It was an experiment and a lesson: most juried shows are not worth my time and effort.
    I forwarded this post, Alyson, to my husband and a photographer friend.
    THANK YOU for a realistic view of juried shows!

    • Shelly L

      You are so right Angeline… at some point you just get fed up with these juried shows because you discover you are paying them to (potentially) reject you!
      I have entered my last paid-for juried show. I will enter free ones only from now on.
      I think artists need to fight back against these fee-only juried shows that can reject you and keep your money. Refuse to enter them. They are getting more and more expensive and do relatively nothing for you even if you are chosen. I have been in so many of them — I have no idea how much I have spent so far on juried show submission, and most of them have led to nothing at all.

  • How is the artist calculating gallery prices? All costs (including artist’s desired profit, framing, overheads and costs of materials) should be doubled. So why isn’t she doubling her frame price? A gallery would – if you sell through a gallery at a 50% commission they don’t take the cost of the frame off first. So even if she sold this in a regular gallery they would pay her 50%, or $600. $400 is her framing bill so was she really only wanting $200 for the actual painting? Standard formula is to double everything – profit, costs of materials, overheads of studio, framing – to get a gallery price.
    I agree with the general theme of the post – I always add up all costs of exhibiting and then decide if that is a worthwhile expense on its own if I got no return. The same goes for art fairs too! Where you also need add in your own time if you’re manning the booth.

  • I’ve really started to taper off the number of juried shows that I enter. Not just because of the numbers like the ones above, but also because I find it hard to support my work in the show if it is more than a couple of hours away by car. I love when people get to see my work, but if I’m not there, those eyes rarely turn into sales. I’d rather invest the funds I’d spend entering a handful of juried shows, plus what shipping would cost me, on events that I create or participate in closer to where I live. I can work that event then, and try to turn that show into business for me. It just seems to be money better spent that way.

  • Thanks for this post, Alyson. I submit yearly to about 4 or 5 juried exhibits, primarily in hopes of building my resume and getting my work out there. Selling the painting is not my objective in entering these exhibits, and I know that I have not been very wise in how I price the paintings I submit. When all of the adding up is done, in some instances I might find it a better strategy to put NFS on a painting I am submitting for a juried exhibit.

  • Wow. This has several problems like
    1. Unless a show has an exceptional opportunity for recognition, I won’t pay to enter. Especially if the entry fee is over $25.
    2. She paid an entry fee just for a shot at getting into the show, and then a hanging fee on top of that? You would have a very hard time convincing me that this is justifiable!
    3. Who is she paying for framing, boxing and shipping? Those services can all be had at a far lower cost. Our creativity cannot stop when we walk away from the easel, we need to find alternatives to high cost services.
    I am not writing to criticize this artist, but to help us open our eyes. The art world is full of organizations and people whose full time job is extracting money from artists, who have very little extra to begin with. As long as our eagerness, and, lets admit it, desperation, to get our art shown drives us to pay to show our work, these groups will continue fleecing us. If we just say enough and stop handing over money that we have worked hard for, things might change.
    There are many high profile organizations and shows that have made a policy of not charging artists jury fees. They have found that this brings a higher quality of art, since established, successful artists are less likely to to pay to hang their art. Lets do what we can to support them!

    • Shelly L

      Deb — I totally agree!
      It’s time for artists to stop entering these expensive shows — say No! Then maybe things will change. Artists are gouged for money every way we turn. Galleries and these expensive juried group shows are no exception.
      Just think about it — musicians and writers and actors get people to pay THEM for their work, in all venues. They don’t pay people in order to play music or act in a play in a venue — they get paid, instead.
      Artists, for some reason, pay people to look for free at their art. There is something wrong with this picture!

  • Shelly L

    “There are many high profile organizations and shows that have made a policy of not charging artists jury fees. ”
    Where, and who?

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *