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How To Apply To Art Festivals in 4 Steps

If you’re just starting out as an artist, or if you’re well on your way to establishing a following, you might want to consider arts festivals as a way to supplement your income, network with your peers in the art world, and have a great excuse to travel. The process can be time-consuming, if you don’t understand what’s required of you from the get-go. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts is going on its 48th year of bringing top quality art to collectors worldwide and the local community alike. Here’s a list of helpful tips we’ve compiled for applying to festivals.

Are you worried you'll need more personalized help to apply? Don't worry! On February 16, 2019 from 10am-12pm, Kentuck is offering Get ZAPPed, a hands-on workshop about how to apply to the Kentuck Festival of the Arts and learn Get tips on taking quality photos of your work and how to make your application stand out. Bring your laptop or tablet and follow along through the entire class! To register, click here.

Now for the application essentials:

Take note! The Kentuck Festival of the Arts is a weekend earlier than usual this year in order to prevent conflicts with Alabama football home games. Getting around town and finding accommodations will be easier for everyone!


The most important step you should take in applying to festivals is doing some reading about the festival. Scour a festival’s website in order to find answers to questions like:

- What kind of art are they looking for?

- How long has the festival been in existence?

- What accolades has the festival received? Is it reputable?

- How much does it cost to apply?

- Is it a juried show? If so, how does their jury process work?

Many of these answers can be found in the festival’s rules. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts application on has the answers to these and many other questions. You should be wary of any festival that can’t give you answers via their application, website, or by phone. Reading the rules is also an important step in understanding what will be expected of you once you get into the festival, as well as what you can expect from the festival. For example, some festivals may have an artist hospitality area that you’ll want to know about.

By Karen Fincannon

2. Prepare your application materials.

There are several platforms out there that most festivals use to collect applications. The most popular are (Zapp),, and The Kentuck Festival of the Arts uses Zapp, which allows you to create a free profile and store images of your work as well as artist statements and your bio. Zapp also lets you input some of your preferences, and it notifies you via email about shows you might be interested in. All festivals require a little something different, but for most you’ll need:

- High quality photos of your work in the appropriate size (Zapp accepts photos that are between 1080 and 1920 pixels)

- A booth shot

- Brief biographical information and/or an artist statement

Not sure how to know what a “good” photo of artwork is? Don’t know the difference between a bio and an artist statement? Have no idea how to get a booth shot when you’ve never done a festival before? Does adjusting the size of a photo by pixels scare your pants off? Sign up for our Get Zapped course HERE. We’ll guide you through the entire process, AND… there are free doughnuts… just sayin’.

By Bebo

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

No one knows everything there is to know about anything. So, never be afraid to ask questions about your application, the application process, or details of a festival. I say this with one caveat—many shows are run by event-management companies—which means that talking to a real person is going to be a little harder. But every festival you apply for should have some sort of contact information on the rules (which—raise your right hand and repeat after me—“I will read from beginning to end”). With big management companies, just keep trying until you reach someone. The Kentuck Festival of the Arts is an exception. It is run by a non-profit staff of 6 super-dedicated individuals and an all-volunteer steering committee of over 30 people. The staff is always happy to talk to an artist, and we will try to make your application process as easy as possible. Just give us a call (205) 758-1257 or email

4. Read your email.

Like it or not, we live in a digital world, and that is the way that most festivals will communicate with you. If you don’t read your email for a month, and your booth payment was due 2 weeks ago, the festival will likely give your spot away to an artist who has read her email and paid on time.

The festival may also use email to communicate important safety tips, hotel information, driving and parking directions, or business license instructions. When you do create a profile on one of the aforementioned platforms, it behooves you use an email which you check regularly, and then to actually check it regularly. For example, for the Kentuck Festival, we notify artists via email when they are pulled off of the waitlist. If an artist doesn’t answer within a week, we move on to the next artist on the waitlist.

Ready to learn more and get personalized help? Register for Get ZAPPed! The workshop is February 16th from 10am-12pm in Kentuck's conference room. Click here to register!



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