Ever think about applying to participate in an art fair? Well now is a great time. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many artists are asking themselves: What do I do now? With social distancing recommended, in-person exhibitions and large art-fair gatherings are not feasible. So, why does it make any sense to put together an application for an art fair with an uncertain future? Here are a few things to consider:
Use your art fair application as a jump start. When social distancing restrictions ease and public gatherings resume, you’ll want to hit the ground running. Submitting your application, planning a proper art-fair booth, creating a body of work, and building a sales strategy are all ways to make the best use of this down time.
Participation inspires community engagement. One of the best things about art fairs is meeting and connecting with artists and collectors. The human connection is so important to selling art and as soon it’s safe and healthy to be together again, people are going to be starved for social connection. It’s also a call for artists to contribute to the local arts community during good times and bad.
Tell the world your studio is open for business. Submitting an application and then announcing your acceptance on social media signals to the entire world that your career is in full swing. It will set your work apart and you may even receive some sales just from the announcement alone.
People are still buying art. Everyone is spending a lot of time wandering around their homes noticing empty spots begging for great art. Social media feeds are bursting with new projects and subsequent sales opportunities. Sure, there’s a lot you can do digitally to market your art, but you can take your career to the next level when you physically participate and present your art in a public art show.
Art fairs support artists. Not only will the fair you are participating in provide online marketing through their website for as long as the pandemic impacts large gatherings, but you’ll also receive valuable social-media exposure from the venue to its followers, both of which give your art career extra momentum.
Worst-case scenario, the art fair is postponed, but not canceled. COVID-19 is definitely changing the way we do things, but we will return to public spaces. If the show is postponed, your application most likely won’t need to be resubmitted, it’ll just count toward the next fair. You haven’t lost anything, in fact you’ve gained valuable application and preparation experience.
To help you get started, this issue of Pottery Making Illustrated is all about tools—both the physical tools you use to make pots and the mental tools you use to build a studio practice. Mamta Gholap returns with advice on applying to art fairs, while Rhonda Willers shows us how to build a better studio work bench. Patricia Griffin demos sgraffito techniques on large platters, Ai Yamamoto teaches slip trailing on dinner plates, from David Scott Smith we learn how to make bisque molds for press molding, and Eva Champagne explores a kurinuki technique for making hollow vessels. We also have Sunshine Cobb’s fixes for menacing cracks, Deb Schwartzkopf’s template technique for building small bud vases, and Lindsay Oesterritter’s collection of tools for cleaning up her pots after atmospheric firings.
So, once you’re done reading this issue, make some great pots, then start applying to art fairs. Give yourself something to look forward to.