Saturday, May 20, 2006

Show rejections and "no refund after acceptance" policies

This week, I received rejections for 2 of the shows I applied to (Orchard Lake and Northville). Unfortunately, the rejection letter gives you no clue why you were rejected. If I had to guess, I'd suppose it was for 1 of 2 reasons.

One likely possibility is that they were not impressed with my booth slides. Being my first year, and having to get the booth slides ready months ago, I had to hurry up and take the photos with whatever setup I had available at that time. The display definitely looked a bit unprofessional.

The other likely possibility is that they simply didn't like my choice of slides of my work. The slides I sent in were of some of my best (in my option) shots, but were in the ordinary photographic landscape style. They weren't in the abstract style or done with artistic effects (watercolor or sketched). Since these shows seemed to be more of an upper notch fine art style of show, I now wonder if sending in my more artsy shots (even though those aren't in the style I focus on) would have had more success.

Of course, there are other possibilities. Perhaps a landscape photographer is not the type of artist they envision in their shows. Or perhaps they really liked my work and thought there was nothing technically or artistically wrong, but that they had enough people who were just a notch better than me.

Whatever the reason, I now have 2 more weekends without shows. I was hoping to get in a half dozen shows this year, but now I only have 2 confirmed shows with 1 more application out waiting for a response. Now I have to find some additional shows to apply for. I guess that, for the 2 shows that are an hour or so away and thus I was unsure about applying for, I guess I should go ahead and apply for them. An hour drive is better than no show.

One of the things that really irks me about many shows is their "no refund after acceptance" policy. In an ideal world, you could pay your jury fee, get accepted, and then have the choice of paying your booth fee or turning down the show and letting someone on the wait list take your spot. However, many of the shows want you to send your booth fee with your application and state there are no refund after you are accepted.

This burned me on the Orchard Lake show. I had 2 possible shows to apply to for that weekend. Both shows had due dates in the same week. The other show had the no refund policy, and its decision date was after the Orchard Lake refund deadline. I picked the show that I thought would be the more rewarding one to participate in, and now that I've been rejected, I'm not in either show. I have a feeling I would have stood a better chance of getting into the other show.

I'd like to say "oh well, lesson learned", but I'm not really sure what I learned. The reason for my rejection is completely ambiguous, and there's really no better way I could have worked the application/refund issue.

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