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Spring Into the 2023 Art Show Season

Written by Joely Rogers

You’ve put your heart and soul into your art: capturing that magic moment when your inner muse is stirred, setting up the ideal composition, and honing the details until it finally feels finished. Now it’s time to get out of the studio or out from behind the lens — and in front of an audience.

Now, where to share your work? We’ve gathered some tips and tricks that will help you find the right shows, competitions, fairs, retreats, and more.

Tap into the Power of Social Media

Social media has never been more important for artists looking to connect with an audience and discover venues to showcase their work. “I use Instagram and Facebook as my primary resources,” says oil painter Christopher Johnson. He goes on to say that social media “got me to where I am today with respect to shows. Instagram in particular helped me enormously.” 

Christopher recommends using social media as a way to research shows, connect with other artists to find events relevant to your art, and to ask questions that will help you determine if a particular event is right for you. He also recommends the Facebook group Art Fair Buddies: “It’s a collection of artists talking about various shows throughout the world,” Christopher explains. “It’s a helpful resource to gather info and ask questions.” 

Collage artist Richard Curtner also emphasizes the power of networking — on and off social media. He points out, “Once you start doing shows, you also get a lot of word-of-mouth [and] recommendations from other artists, especially artists that work in similar mediums.”

Join Relevant Art Societies

As you’re seeking shows and venues, don’t forget to focus on your niche. Joining professional societies centered on your primary medium will often qualify you to exhibit with them. From the National Watercolor Society to the Professional Photographers of America, if you create it, there’s likely a group devoted to it.

Explore 'Zines and Pubs

Art community trade magazines and publications often put out their own calls for entry or sponsor competitions. Many have cash prizes along with great exposure. Here are just a few to get you started:
Artists Magazine 40th Annual Art Competition. (Artist focus) With competitions in several categories — from still life to wildlife — this contest features tiered cash prizes for specific categories - $29,000 in prizes total.
Communication Arts. (Graphic Artists, Designers, Photographers, Illustrators, Interactive) Around since 1959, CA is one of the most prestigious juried competitions in the world. There are separate competitions throughout the year for various genres. No cash prizes, but the solid aluminum trophy is worth bragging about.
Annual Photo Contests. (Photographers) Sponsored by Outdoor Photographer magazine, categories are Nature’s Colors, Wildlife, and The American Landscape, etc. In past years, prizes have included a $1,000 grand prize, a $500 second prize, and a $250 third prize.

Pound the (Virtual) Pavement

Nothing can replace time spent on doing your homework: online research, networking, and signing up for mailing lists. Sometimes there’s no magic formula other than a little creativity mixed with dedicated time — and as artists, we know a thing or two about both, don’t we? One quick tip: as you’re signing up for all those mailing lists, consider setting up a separate email just for art calls-for-entry. They can pile up quickly in your in-box, and having a separate account can help you keep things organized.

Click and You Shall Find

Here are some online resources to consult as you embark on your search for art shows and fairs this spring:

ArtShow: Includes a database of calls for artists, plus workshops and retreats.
CaFE: Includes resources for calls for artists and submission management.
FASO: Includes a database of art contests and resources for art marketing.
Juried Art Services: Includes a database of art contests and application process services.
Art Gallery Finder: Explore galleries across the U.S., organized by state.
Art Fair Calendar: Listings for craft shows and fine art festivals, searchable by region and by city. 
Art Jobs: International job listings for artists and a huge “Open Calls” site for creatives.
C4E: Art calls and opportunities are gathered into separate sections for artists and photographers.
Side Arts: From exhibitions to vendor events to residencies, find verified calls for visual artists of all kinds.
Sunshine Artist: Celebrating 50 years as an art and craft show resource, this magazine features reviews of art shows and fairs across the U.S.
AFSB: The Art Fair Sourcebook is designed to help artists and event organizers find the best fit for specific styles of work and price ranges.
ZAPP: Apply to a number of art shows from one central website.
OnlineJuriedShows: Find a collection of local art shows all in one place.

Also, be sure to check out your regional arts organizations for lists of events and calls for artists. Two examples of these useful organizations are Art and Seek (a North Texas hub for art news and events) and the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (a regional nonprofit promoting and supporting the arts in the Cape Cod and Barnstable County area). 

Wishing you a prolific and profitable springtime! Let us know how it’s going with a comment below, or share your own favorite art-show scouting methods.

Last Updated November 30, 2022