LETTERS TO NAIA

Dear NAIA,
I decided to send you a little more money because I think you are doing a great job! I hope that we can see more progress on the “booth fee due upon acceptance” issue in the year to come. I think this and making contract/refund show policies more reasonable is one of the most important issues applicable to ALL artists who do shows.

Thanks again for all the hard work!
John Bingham


Dear NAIA:
Hi! I am pleased to send you my membership dues. I think that you guys are doing a great job. I have started to see the effects of the new slide standard on show applications. It makes a tremendous difference on the shows that are complying with the new standard. The job now is to pressure all of the shows out there to move to our new standard. As an example, Evanston (American Craft Exposition) has stuck with their old form instead of using the new standard. They are a major show who really should be on the bandwagon. I know it will be hard to get all of the smaller shows to comply, but we should really get the big, well-known shows to stick to the standard.

Given that you have done so well on the slide standard front, I have another task for you. A lot of shows request a check for the full booth fee at the time of application. They then have strict rules about “an application is a commitment to show” etc etc, and state that they will not return booth fees if you decide not to participate in their show. Of course the artist doesn’t know which shows he will get into, so he has to apply to several shows on the same weekend. If the artist gets into more than one show, he has to decide which show to do and forfeit the booth fees for the shows he cannot do. (This is assuming that we are honest and don’t send someone else out to do a show for us on the same weekend, something the show management hates!) This can be very expensive for us, the artists. It also runs contrary to normal contract law. They want us to commit and sign a contract to do their show, before they are willing to offer us a space in their show. This is something that bothers me no end. The shows that require an up front booth fee, should refund your booth fee if you contact them in writing within some reasonable time frame. These shows maintain waiting lists and are almost always able to resell your spot. I much prefer the shows that charge only a jury fee at the time of application and then request the booth fee of the artists who have been accepted. At this point you can make the decision as to whether you want to do the show. Anyway, I thought I would mention this to you as something to put on your list of things to do!! I think you guys are doing a great job and always await your next interesting newsletter. Thanks for all the hard work.

Sincerely,
John Bingham


To Ray Hartl,
What an eye opener. I felt as though we were alone out here and that our complaints were falling on deaf ears.

Thomas Donaldson has not filled out comments from the shows he has attended as he felt that it would be a waste of time. I am active promoting Thomas’s work as an artist and we have traveled with him to give him our support at the Art Fairs.. Some of the Fairs have been excellent and many have left a lot to be desired. He told me to go ahead and get involved with NAIA and I am doing so with the understanding that he will soon follow.

He is busy trying to keep his head above water. He had $2,500 worth of art stolen at the Tempe Show two years ago and he is very wary of letting his feelings all hang out. the enclosed check is for a membership for him in NAIA. I know it will be important to his existence and success.

Sincerely,
[email protected]


To Lawrence Oliverson, NAIA,
On behalf of IFEA, I would like to thank you for your tremendous contribution of time and expertise in speaking at the 42nd Annual IFEA Convention and Trade Show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The following page is a compilation of the attendee evaluations for your session. Please note that your average score is based on six being the highest score possible.
Thank you again for contributing to the continued success of IFEAs educational Programs.

Sincerely,
Bruce Skinner, CFE, President

Visual Arts Affinity Group
Affinity Topic: What Artists are Looking for From Show Management
Banister Pope and Lawrence W. Oliverson

Average Score: 5.6

Session Comments:

  • Very Informative, Good Info, Much Needed
  • Very Helpful (2 times)
  • Seems like NAIA is doing a great job addressing the concerns of both artists and shows.
  • It would be great to have NAIA back as concerns change.
  • Need more time for discussion about process of artist survey. (5 times)
  • By far the best workshop I have attended.
  • I have learned so much.
  • Both very good. Just what I needed.
  • We have been going around in circles on some of these issues. Cant wait to hear more details of the NAIA surveys.
  • Excellent!
  • Artists are an unbelievable source to tap!
  • We need more of these.
  • Thank you.
  • Very focused and informative.
  • Excellent information and handouts.

Dear NAIA,
I am more impressed with the NAIA with each newsletter I receive.

With an unbiased eye, you seem to look directly at the issues concerning artists and offer them in a way that is just good discussion. Furthermore you present the consensus of our dialog to the other people who need to hear it – the show promoters – and with a manner that is respectful of the needs of both of our interests, you foster the rare quality of cooperation.

In my last letter, I asked, regarding slide standardization, “So, what has been the response?” The answer was immediate, not only with this latest newsletter, but with the show applications I am now seeing, using your recommended format. The response has been results!

Now, you offer the Artist Information Statement. Grand idea! Especially if the show judges read them. Simple, succinct, and informative. Who wouldn’t be in favor? Certainly not us professionals.

The jurying process is a subject that you continue to address. As I complete this year’s applications and await in limbo, the determination of what shows I am accepted, I consider the rejections that I will receive, knowing that somewhere, somebody missed the boat. Was it me?, my work?, my presentation?, or the juror who doesn’t grasp my unique craft? Are my prices too high? Did I apply in the wrong category? Were there a lot of applicants in my category? Were the slides shown in order of date received or alphabetically? Should I change my name so the juror is less tired when my slides are finally reviewed? How are we to know? Are there any shows that respond with more than a “yes” or a “no”?

Without limiting the unique qualities of individual shows, could a format be devised that would allow jurors to make the best selections and offer the artists reasonable information as to why their work was or was not chosen? My bet is that we could come up with one. It may a most subjective issue, but might be the one that most allies our interests. And for the added work and responsibility to the jurors, I for one would be willing to pay a larger application fee. I suggest to the NAIA, it’s readers, and the show promoters we tackle this issue. Show us again, how.

Special thanks for the pages on “What Artists Want From Shows”. Both artists and show promoters need to be reminded of the profession we have chosen and its importance to ourselves and our communities. We are indelibly linked and we should be proud to encourage a respectful attitude in presenting the arts and crafts. Keep up the good work!

Until I hear from you, I remain,
yours truly,
C.T. Whitehouse


Dear Folks,
I think your idea for the artist information statement is great. I disagree with the idea of them all being different – original – creative, etc. I believe they would have more credibility with the public if they were all the same. Not only that – I think your organization should produce (or at least distribute) them for a fee. The NAIA logo, address, etc. should be a prominent part. This would serve a few important purposes:

1. More credibility
2. A fund raising source for NAIA
3. A continuing and expanding presence for the NAIA at many venues around the country.

It could sort of be our union card. I believe most artists would be willing to pay $25-$30 for a professionally designed card, typeset with an artist supplied photo – laminated, etc.

Sincerely,
Bill McDowell


Dear NAIA Committee and Board,
I wanted to briefly write and tell you that I sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication you have displayed by giving artists a voice and a means to present our issues and concerns to art show sponsors and coordinators.

I was at the show in Springfest the year of the “Stampede”. My booth was knocked about and I found shoes and earrings the morning afterward, but I suffered little else except deep shock to know that something like that could happen at an art festival. Needless to say I have no plans on returning to Charlotte.

I found it a wonderful experience to read your newsletter and relate to so many of the points brought out by other artists in their letters and in you articles. I had heard about NAIA when it was just forming but was not actively doing shows that year. Now, that I have received my first newsletter and have learned what it’s all about I am joining immediately.

I am also passing this newsletter on to Amy Amdur of Amy Amdur productions (Port Clinton Art Festival) who told me she had not seen it as of yet, but was quite anxious to read it.

Thank you again for giving us a voice.

Sincerely,
Julie Chaleff-Feingold


Comments:
Show awards – Why not call them what they are – NAIA awards?

Response to your question as to whether it is important to know the names of the jurors. Why not? In the theoretical world, it shouldnt matter, but in reality, if I know one of the jurors just doesnt like my work, Ill save myself the jury fee and apply elsewhere.

Great speech by Banister Pope. Thank you for printing it.

Is there a copy of the 1996 Artists Survey Results? I’d like to have one.

Thank you,
Karen Olesen Jakse


Dear NAIA,
How do we feel about reproductions? So very glad you asked.

After 15 years of art shows under our belts my eyes have finally seen! We have a discrimination problem and here is the big question. Why is it that a photographer can fill a booth full of “prints” and a 2D artist cannot?

Those of us, who are painters, are forced to participate in this business with one hand tied behind our backs. And my hat goes off to all of us who are actually making a living at it. For many years my husband and I struggled to produce paintings between shows, sometimes trotting off to an art festival with 8 or 10 framed pieces banging around in the back of the van. (Our painting style is laborious, which, in a business where time is of the essence, only makes the struggle more challenging). One summer while staying with a friend between shows up north, we had set up a workspace on her front porch. We often had to work frantically to get a few pieces together for the next show. We were working morning to night with only three days before the next show. A photographer was also staying at our friend’s house as well and one morning a package came in from UPS. The photographer opened the box and there in beautiful order were stacks of photographs sent by a print company. ” If that ain’t “reproductions” I don’t what are!” In one day the photographer was well stocked and ready to make a killing at the next several shows! I often ask myself now, what took so long for me to finally get it!

Surprisingly, we managed to hold our own, however slimly, until the fall of ’85 when, after two horrible shows in a row, we were scrambling. In our brainstorming we eventually came up with a respectable way to reproduce our imagery and still have each piece fall into the “original” category…. Hand- colored etchings of our originals. Phew! Success again. Fortunately, the one thing you can count on in this life is that after much head-banging you will learn. What we discovered after several years of painting etchings was that we were still painting the same etchings from 4 years before, with little time to create new work. Ugh!

In the past few months we have invested a great deal of time and energy as well as money in computer generated reproductions that we produce ourselves. Alleluia! These prints are done on an ink jet plotter using pigmented inks. It generally takes twenty minutes or longer to print one of each image, not to mention the preliminary work that goes into capturing the image, correcting the color and so on, not unlike what photographers do in the darkroom.

Now, we can finally look up and get a breath. We are back to creating new work with time…. blessed time. ..to do more than just production paintings. I understand what I could not grasp even three years ago. It is ok to make reproductions of your work. It is respectable as long as people know what they are getting. Doesn’t it make more sense to do quality work and have reproductions than to spin your wheels doing rote pieces and calling them originals? We all have the right to make a success of this business as long as we are guided by equality and integrity!

There is some fine photography on the circuit and it is truly an art form. We only ask that we be afforded the same opportunities to sell our work as they do…prints.

Sincerely,
Laura Beatty and John Fehling


Dear NAIA:
Last year I participated in the 37th annual Art Harvest Festival sponsored by the Junior League of Clearwater- Dunedin, Inc. in Dunedin, Florida. I cannot praise this show’s appearance or the hard work by the staff highly enough. However, I would like to point to a problem I had with this show, one perhaps too common when a non-artist group strives to promote a high quality show. I am sure I am not alone when I state that one of the things I target when choosing a show is an effort by the promoter to prohibit the display and sale of offset reproductions. It is not the intention of this letter to argue the pros and cons of repros. Just let me say that it is my opinion that it lowers the overall appearance, adding a “flea market” atmosphere to a show whose public impression is not enhanced by production type work. (There are enough venues for production work available to those artists who choose this route). It makes it difficult for the public to maintain a focus on original work and is particularly unfair to legitimate printmakers. (I am a painter, but think this issue affects everyone of us who tries to exhibit original non- commercially produced work). As stated, there is a place for such bottom fishing, but should it should not be propped up by those wishing to sell original work.

I was assigned a spot next to a watercolor painter whose booth contained two bins full of variously sized reproductions. When I pointed out the show’s prospectus/application specifically prohibited such work, he insisted that, since they contained his own images, they qualified as “original prints” and the distinction between “reproduction” and “print” was an artificial one. (Of course, he had juried in as a painter, not as a printmaker). To quote the application: “Only artists displaying their own original work may participate. No copies or commercial reproductions: this competition is for original handcrafted work” and:”Graphic artists: No commercial reproductions of your work (photo offset, letterpress or gravure) are to be displayed”. Surely, if graphic artists are thus restricted, so should painters!

I had no desire to turn this conflict into something personal or to have him ejected from the show at this point. Nor did I wish to cause the staff unnecessary trouble, but when he continued to display his repros I asked the show director to please review the situation and, if warranted, to have the repros removed from sight. She visited the booth midday the following day, but no action was taken and I dropped the matter. If the director felt unqualified to make a judgment on the issue, she might have had peers form an ad hoc standards committee to help determine appropriate action. What good are standards when they are not enforced? I do not plan to attend the 1998 show.

Sincerely,
Paul Germain

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