Now that we’ve kicked off the first art show of the year at La Quinta, I’ve been reminded that not everybody understands all of the terminology that get used in art circles. Both the general public and aspiring artists.

For example, I get this question all the time…

What is a Juried Art Show?

Next time you go to any reasonably well-established fine art fair, chances are it’s a juried event. A juried art show is one at which exhibiting artists had to be found worthy of entry by presenting their work to a panel of “jurors” or judges. These judges can often be fellow artists (like me!) or knowledgable members of the art community x such as museum curators and gallery owners x selected by the sponsoring organization.

There are hundreds, sometimes thousands of artists competing to get into the top fine art shows. And they might be competing for very few openings. It can be quite stressful for applicants, who have to plan out their submissions many months prior to the show dates. And, as should be obvious, since most artists don’t get into every show they apply to, they have to apply to a lot of shows to end up doing as many as they want over the course of a year. At $30 to $50 per application, show apps add up fast as a budget category.

So How Do Juries Work?

Each art show has different criteria by which the judges are to evaluate applicants; some subjective and some objective. Sometimes jurors specifically look for art they think will appeal to the local patrons.

Many if not most shows claim to use “blind juries,” meaning the judges aren’t supposed to know who the artists applying are. I’ve been doing this long enough to tell you that while this sounds good in theory, the high-end art community is pretty small…

Jurors look at up to five images from each artist as well as a booth shot, their typical set up at a show. For some shows jurors sit together in a room over the course of several days looking at large projections. They often have only a few seconds to form an opinion about each entry.


For other shows each juror works independently, looking at the submission images on their home computer screen. In either case, the jurors rate each applicant on a scale x the higher the number, the more likely that artist is to get into the show.

The jury process is intended to raise the quality of the show and therefore attract patrons. The higher the reputation and standard an event or show has, the more top artists it will attract and therefore more people really interested in art will attend. All of which results in happier patrons, artists, and show promoters.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss some tips and tricks for applying to juried art shows.