Art Fair Feedback: Zapp

by

Krasl Art Fair in St. Joe, MI

Dear Connie,

As of this email we have currently participated in 47 shows for the year with 3 more remaining. Then we will be exhibiting out west for the winter months and our schedule will start again. We travel quite extensively to shows throughout the US and have met many artists during our travels.

We are not hearing positive things about the new ZAPP application process. We have heard it described as an enormous money maker!

Supposedly, shows are now receiving thousands of applications at say $35.00 to $50.00 per jury process, while the show you might be applying to are only accepting several hundreds of exhibitors.

Artist friends that we know have been rejected from shows they have done for years. For the promoter, this is a good thing having new people with new product. But what happens to the attendees when they attend the shows looking for their favorite artist and they are no longer there? How many jury fees can an artist endure without acceptance? And what about the commitment while the shows itself was growing?

In your forum have you had any contact or comments with artist regarding the ZAPP process? At this time we are going to suspend applying thru Zapp until we hear further on this issue.

Thank you for your time.

Doris A. Guffey
Michigan

Jody dePew McLeaneHello Doris,

Thank you for contacting me. Zapp has caused a good deal of consternation in the artist community. Here is some further information about your concerns:

First, about Zapp being a moneymaker for organizations: Zapp is only indirectly a moneymaker for art fairs. It is expensive for an art fair to become part of the system, ranging in cost from $3000 to $8000 depending on the options selected and the number of applicants a show receives.

The system is very attractive to an art fair, not as a moneymaking venture, but because

  • it simplifies tedious office procedures such as building and maintaining a mailing list
  • printing and mailing of applications
  • data input
  • handling thousands of slides into and then out of the carousels
  • enabling art fairs to maintain electronic communications with prospective exhibitors

This, in itself, often justifies the expense for the shows. In addition, the number of artists registered with Zapp is very large, probably the largest database of exhibiting artists in the country. This enables them to reach out to all of these interested parties with an easy to fill out application. It gives the art fairs access to many, many artists who will apply because it is so easy and just one more application is only $20-$50, very easy for an artist to justify for the chance to be seen by the jury.

This means that often an art fair will receive more applications than they had under the old system, which does equal more income from jury fees, which then helps pay the Zapp bill. I attended one mid-level show’s jurying last winter. The previous year they had received approximately 200 applications. This year they received around 300 applications. The increase in applications offset the costs of using Zapp and they also saved money because they did not have all the other jurying expenses I listed above.

What does this mean for you? Yes, there are more applicants for some art fairs which means more competition.

I’ve been in this business for a long time. In the early days if you had pretty good work it wasn’t too hard to get into almost all the shows you applied to and we would see our friends at most shows. We all knew (word of mouth) where the best shows were.

Then Sunshine Artist appeared with its top show ratings, followed shortly by Greg Lawler’s ArtFairSourceBook. These publications allowed anyone who subscribed to have access to information that we had been trading behind the booth for some time. Suddenly shows were harder to get into, everyone knew where the top shows were and everyone seemed to apply to the top twenty or so. Competition skyrocketed!

Enter Zapp–now you see the previous magnified and everyone is trying to learn this new system that requires new skills to get into the best shows.

I will answer your other questions in another blog entry. I hope this was helpful.

 

 

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11 Responses to “Art Fair Feedback: Zapp”

  1. don crozier Says:

    We wonder how it will all shake out- many more artists are double booking, hence more cancellations and more in from the wait list. Will it all balance out? Who knows….

  2. Amy Says:

    I spent an enormous amount of money on Zapplications last year…thought some of the art fairs I have done in the past would be rejecting me since I mostly stay local and had been in them for a number of years. I was shocked to get into the ONE art fair I was certain would reject me due to the fact they are one of the premier shows in the US and I had done them for years. I was shocked that I didn’t get into ANY other fair I applied to. When once an art fair recieved three hundred applications, and they switch to Zapp, then you get a rejection letter saying, “we would love to consider you but we had over 1700 applications” it sends you away with your tail between your legs. I feel deflated and bilked of money. I cannot imagine any juror looking at that many slides and considering the minuteness of my work that sets it apart from others. I consider myself a top notch artist in my field, yet I have been cleaning houses due to need of income. In all honesty, Zapp dramatically changed my life…as if the economy wasn’t bad enough. I don’t want to consider any more Zapp shows…I’d rather find other options for my work.

  3. Constance Mettler Says:

    Here is an email on this topic I recently received:

    Hi Connie,

    This whole ZAPP thing gets me mad, it gets harder to make a living each week from the shows and show aren’t helping the artist by using ZAPP. It’s sold to the shows as a way for them to increase their revenues, screw the artist, sorry. It’s how I and other artist feel about the whole thing. This year is our 34th. year doing the outdoor shows for a living and like you and Norm, they used to be fun. Now with the economy in the toilet and gas sky high we don’t need more applicants complicating things.

    We did a small show recently that had 48 jewelers, 30 photographers and about as many painters plus the other crafts. The pie doesn’t have that many pieces to go around, as our sales showed. Losing the middle class isn’t helping, that’s where our sales come from or used to.
    Michael & Carol Weber

  4. Ayenne Applebaum Says:

    Hi Everybody! I am so relieved that someone out here is starting to comment on this situation. Zapp and JAS is BS as far as I am concerned. NO MORE MONEY FROM ME !!!!!!!
    For several years now I have sought alternatitive venues because of the ridiculous jurying system. The lack of practical experience on the part of the jury, not to mention the subjectiver view points of thhe jury….And how about in one year out the next?!?
    The expense of applications-slides in a digital age was one thing, but with the afforementioned skyrocketing gas costs and state of the economy, I too decided to retun to the world of art fairs. Besides the cost of new software $800.00 so that I could translate my photos into the appropriate submission format, I spent over $400.00 to be rejected by almost every show to which I applied. Two of the shows directors in Florida had personally given me their cards wondering whynI wasn’t exhibiting at their shows. I was rejected by them also. Let’s not forget, exhibiting is the key word. I don’t do shows for ooows, aahhhs and your so creative- I pay my mortgage and by clay and kilns with my work-furthermore I sell everywhere I go – I say down with Zapp and JAS- I’m done. If I am paying 30-50 dollars per app. tell you what- let me know why I was “declined” with my notification of decline….earn your fee… I say let fight against this system- Ayenne@ http://www.whimseepots.com

  5. Chip Says:

    Maybe some who are complaining might want to rethink whether their work is really as ‘good’ as they think it is. Sounds like when they compete against their local peers they do ok, but in a national arena their work doesn’t quite measure up. Sticking to smaller shows in their local area that don’t get wide attention will increase their chances of getting accepted.

  6. walt badgerow Says:

    Hi Conie….Good to hear so many others making such accurate observations about the online subscription services ZAPP and JAS. Also sounds like “Chip” might be one of the new wave of people applying to some of the top shows in the nation, not because of their good artwork but because of their prowess with the computer and in specific, digital imagery. I think that the word “competition” is inaccurate in this instance, unless it is meant that applicants are are being juried for their compter skills. It’s now just a question of when this will be recognized by the public and whether their complaints will be heard. Thank you and keep up the good work, Walt~

  7. walt badgerow Says:

    Hi Conie….Good to hear so many others making such accurate observations about the online subscription services ZAPP and JAS. Also sounds like “Chip” might be one of the new wave of people applying to some of the top shows in the nation, not because of their good artwork but because of their prowess with the computer and in specific, digital imagery. I think that the word “competition” is inaccurate in this instance, unless it is meant that applicants are are being jured for their compter skills. It’s now just a question of when this will be recognized by the public and whether their complaints will be heard. Thank you and keep up the good work, Walt~

  8. Beth Says:

    I am very frustrated with Zapp myself and it’s good to hear I’m not alone! I feel like I am throwing my money at art shows just to get a simple “no” and the whole process feels SO impersonal! I wrote a blog about it here: http://freshieandzero.blogspot.com/2008/03/zapplication-not-so-happy-adventures.html

  9. Constance Mettler Says:

    This is a big deal issue among artists, Beth, as you know. Love your blog entry and your “full disclosure.” Wow!

    And, on the other hand, for myself I do not see Zapp as the bad guy. I’ve been in this business a long time. When we started there were no rating systems and the only way a person could know where the good shows were was to ask another artist. This worked very well if you asked the right people!

    Then Sunshine artist started rating the shows and suddenly all the good shows were getting great ratings and everyone was applying to the top 25 shows! Then it got tougher to get into the shows.

    Then Greg Lawler started his ArtFairSourceBook and suddenly even more people knew about the good shows. Then it got even tougher to get into the good shows.

    Do you see where I am going with this? Now, suddenly Zapplication comes along and anyone who has the technical wherewithal is applying to the zapp shows…it is fast, easy and what do you have to lose but $25-$50 a pop? Now the competition is even tougher!!

    What will be next? Getting into the top shows had always been a gamble, with the increase in communications the numbers of applicants have increased. What to do? Just keep getting better, present better and better slides, and a great booth slide.

  10. Beth Says:

    I agree that Zapp isn’t necessarily the bad guy, but when I see that a show I am interested in is using Zapplication, and that means that they are going to get a lot more applications and judging by my past history of rejection – it just makes me verrrry hesitant to submit an application. Maybe in the long run, when artists like me see this happening over and over again, Zapp will eventually level out and not have so many applicants.

    I also don’t care for the impersonal nature of the process. The minuscule blurb you’re allowed to write for the jury that is supposed to explain your materials, techniques, and so forth is ridiculous. They want you to answer three questions in 100 characters and it usually gives me enough room to say “I make jewelry with wire and a hamm-“. I’m mildly exaggerating, but you know what I mean? It makes me feel like a number and if we were accountants, I’m sure we would be okay with compartmentalizing ourselves in so few words but we are artists, full of emotions and creativity and we love nothing more than expressing it! 🙂

  11. Steven Burney Says:

    I see the corporatizing of the art show bussiness the same as stockcar racing became nascar. sports fishing became BASS. Soon zap will only accept artist who have a corporate sponsor. A sponsor that can pay $5000.oo and up per competition. The top twenty shows will become a circuit. The only ingrediant missing is the advertizing
    HYPE.

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