FAQs regarding the application process, jurying, tenure, and booth assignments
What is the application process for Indian Market selection?
- Artists wishing to apply for the upcoming Indian Market must fill out an application. The application includes sections on contact info, proof of tribal enrollment, images of the artists’ work and descriptions, certification statements, and an application fee.
- Applications are available in November of the prior year to the upcoming Indian Market. Applications are due by Mid-January (exact dates vary year-to-year).
- You still can fill out a hard copy and send in the images as usual via a thumb drive or CD. To request a printed copy of the application, artists can call the office at 505-983-5220. Also, for the two years since Tenure program ended, SWAIA staff has done outreach in several communities in New Mexico and Arizona, to help artists with their applications.
- The application fee for artists applying to Indian Market varies depending on whether you are submitting your application online or in a hard copy form. There is a discount to apply online, as it cuts down on administrative work on SWAIA's end.
- Online application- $35.00
- Hard Copy application- $50.00
Who do I contact if I have problems with my application or photos?
- Please contact the SWAIA offices if you have any questions or issues with the application or submitting photos. The office number is 505-983-5220.
- Extremely important. Your images and descriptions are all that the jurors see in order to score your work. There is no consideration of the artists' history of awards, family legacy, or anything else.
- Indian Market is extremely competitive! In order to compete, you must submit the best of what you do. As you create work throughout the year, if you do a remarkable piece, photograph it before you sell it! Images of work done within the past THREE years are accepted in your application.
- Professional photographs are not necessary. Many artists submit photos taken on a smart phone (or a relative's smart phone). The three things to keep in mind are:
- That the photos be between 500kb - and 5mb. They must be high enough resolution to not get blurry when they are projected onto a screen at several times their size;
- That there is a neutral background behind the work. Please don't photograph your work on fancy backgrounds or amid scenery. The focus must be entirely on the work;
- That the lighting is neutral. Harsh shadows or dimly lit rooms aren't the best.
What is the criteria?
- The scoring criteria focuses on four areas: Technical Execution, Concept/Design/Creativity, Aesthetics, and Indian Market Standards. Each juror is allowed to award 25 points in each criteria for a maximum total of 100 points per juror, with a perfect score from all three jurors being 300 possible points.
- This scoring system is superior to the old 3 criteria system with a max score of 15 (Each juror scored 5 points in each criteria for a total of 15, then all three scores were averaged). The new system decreases the chance for duplicate scores. For example, in 2014, under the old system, jewelry scores averaged 14 points out of 15 in order to be placed. With only 80 spots available but 140 scores of 14 or higher, who chose which artists were placed?
- The new scoring system gives artist applicants more opportunities to differentiate themselves, and gives SWAIA a more accurate breakdown of scores so we can establish cutoffs for accepted, waitlist, and unaccepted artists.
- Jurors for the application process are selected from individuals who have long-time expertise or knowledge in each classification. These individuals have included accomplished and longtime artists, museum curators, experienced collectors, and art educators. Jurors with potential conflicts of interest are avoided; for example a gallery owner that deals in Native sculptors would probably not be selected as a juror for sculpture.
- Before jurying occurs, all images are assigned a number. This way, the name of the artist is never known by the jurors. This is called a "blind" jurying process. Is it perfect? No. However, we strive every year to make the process more and more fair.
- Absolutely not. The jurors do not have access to the age of any artists. Nor do they have access to artists' tribal affiliation.
- No, the tenure program was officially ended after Santa Fe Indian Market 2016. All artists who want to participate in Santa Fe Indian Market MUST submit an application and images, regardless of prior tenure status.
What was SWAIA’s tenure policy?
- Until last year, the Tenure Program allowed artists with Tenure status to bypass the jurying process and receive automatic admission into Indian Market. Most years, Tenured artists simply sent us an application but were NOT required to submit images or undergo the jurying selection process.
- The Tenure Program was started in 1992 when the application process moved to jurying for new artist applicants. The program was only meant to be a two-year program to alleviate the fear of long time artists having to jury in. The program, however, was not applied equally to all deserving artists.
- Various SWAIA Boards and staff have been agonizing over the abolishment of the program for 26 years and while none elected to fully end the program, 16 years ago SWAIA decided no more artists would be added to the program. Artists would have naturally lose tenure status through death or missing Indian Market for some reason. This meant that the number of tenured artists would get smaller and smaller over the years. Unfortunately, not all Directors chose to follow this policy and awarded tenure status to some artists for many different reasons. Two years ago, the Board came to the decision that in order to be fair to ALL artists, the tenure program must end.
- Not necessarily. Great Native artists should be present at our show, regardless of age. Being an all-juried show however does have many positive benefits however. The prestige and high level fine art that Indian Market is known for will be preserved. Jurying breeds a healthy competitiveness and allows all artists the opportunity to present their best work. There is an incentive to develop and grow as an artist.
How many artists are accepted into Indian Market each year?
- There are approximately 661 booths each year at market with approximately 930 artists accepted with many artists sharing booths with other artists.
- Acceptance letters with booth assignments, as well as wait list letters, go out in mid-March. Artists are selected based upon their score, with a percentage of placed artists dependent upon the number of applicants in each classification.
- Booth placement is at the discretion of SWAIA. We do try to accommodate long time artists in the same booths they occupied prior year, but cannot ensure that it will always be in the same place.
- We do try to ensure that the booth guide is as accurate as possible. Additionally, in 2016 we launched a new Indian Market App for mobile phones. An artist can be searched by name and then a "pin" shows the spot where the artist's booths is located. It is also important that you notify your collectors of your booth number.
- We place juried artists in booths based upon their score and the size of booth requested. We generally try and place artists in the booths that they were in from the year before if they are returning artists. We also will try and accommodate a new artist’s request if there is availability in their requested area.
- Yes, up to three artists can share a small booth space, and up to four can share a large booth space.
- If you are on the wait list, you have a good chance of being in Market. Your work qualifies, but was not scored quite as high as those that are accepted initially
- There are a few ways to be placed into Market once put on a wait list:
- Once the deadline for booth payments pass (this year it was May 4), and artists have not made theirs, the wait-listers are placed in those spots;
- If you find a placed artist who is willing to share their booth, you may do that;
- As we get closer to Market, some artists drop out due to conflicts. Wait-listers are then placed in those spots.
- If an artist sells out on Saturday of Market, wait-listers are placed in their booths. (This is for artists who are geographically close.)