I would like to spend a little time this week griping and complaining about the unfairness of art show submission fees. I have been involved in other activities and sports over my life time and how it usually works and should always be is if you pay an entry fee to participate and are not chosen, do no qualify or there is no more room for you, you get your entry fee back. Obviously, if you don’t show or cancel late you do not, that is your fault. In the world of art shows this is not how it works. You send in the images of your art, usually limited to 2 to 5 pieces with your entry fee varying from $25 to $45. Some are more but I don’t enter those. If your art is not selected, and it usually isn’t, you don’t get your entry fee back. They keep it! No refund at all! Keep in mind that artist usually don’t have lots of extra money sitting around to essentially donate to galleries. So, entering shows is a big gamble and the house usually wins. This is always the case. But everything you read about becoming a successful artist says you need to enter shows and “get you work out there to be seen”. Most all art shows are juried by a single or a few jurors who decided if your work gets into the show, this is pretty much just based on if they like your work or not. So, if the juror is a realist and you’re an abstract artist, most likely your art won’t get in. I have seen total crap get into shows and great work not.
The second part of my complaint is the commissions that galleries charge. Say you do get into a show, yeah! Now it is “preferred” your art be for sale, which is cool because I want to sell my art. But here is the catch, they usually charge around a 40% commission. 40%!! Just to hang on their wall! They also say that “you may not price work higher than it is published or sold in other venues like your website”. So, I can’t mark up my work to compensate for the 40% commission they are going to take. That is almost HALF! I will remind you that typically artists don’t have much money and don’t make much money. But I do want to become known, sell my art and make a little money. But in order to do that I have to shell out lots of money that I don’t get back, let the gallery take almost half of what I would make if I do sell a painting and be thankful I just got ripped off because it was good exposure. There is just something not right about this. I would like to hear from other artists that think this is wrong and unfair.