Application Tips

Applying to TOAF? Here are some useful tips to help you prepare your application.

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

HOW TO FORMAT YOUR IMAGES:
  • Valid files types: .jpeg or .png.
  • Maximum size: images should be 72 dpi and no larger than 1024 x 1024 pixels and 4mb (max) in size. Images that exceed this size will be automatically resized to fit and may be distorted.  
  • Minimum size: no less than 500 x 500 pixels (height & width) and 72 dpi
  • File Names: should be named as follows: YOUR NAME_IMAGE NUMBER OR TITLE_YEAR

Don’t neglect your images! Your images are an important part of your application. You may only submit 7 images of your work so they need to be eye catching!

Jurors will be viewing your images blown up, and projected on a screen. It is very important images are high-resolution, clear, in-focus and well-lit so that your work can be properly assessed. Take a fews test shots, review them on your computer, and make sure that they are oriented in the proper direction before uploading your images.

We recommend hiring a professional photographer to document your work, if you don’t have experience making digital images. If that is not an option, here are a some tips for shooting good images yourself:  

  • We do not recommend using your phone camera to capture this work! Ask a friend or colleague to borrow their camera. Cell phone photos are more prone to distortion.
  • Photograph your work in a room with soft, even light. Avoid direct hard lighting.
  • If possible, on a soft cloudy, diffused day, take your work outside to photograph.
  • Do not include any distracting background; crop your work.
  • If your work is framed or has a glossy finish, do not use the direct flash on your camera.  
  • Put the work flat against a wall at a 45-degree angle to a window with indirect light.  Use a tripod to adjust for the angle.
  • Choose the correct white balance to make sure that your colours do not get distorted.

For more tips, check out this great video from Satchii Online about how to photograph your art

2. Cohesiveness is Key

The images you submit should be a single cohesive body of work that you intend to show at the Fair. The works you submit should relate to each other visually, with a similar style and subject matter. If you make different kinds of work in different media (e.g. painting, collage, sculpture) don’t include them all.

Your application should focus on 1 medium only. Want to show in more than one category? No problem! You can submit up to 3 applications in different categories (fees apply). We strongly recommend tailoring each application to each category you are applying under.

3. Start Strong, End Strong

Your images must be strong and the order in which you present the images is important. The order that you upload your images is the order that the jurors will see. You need to provide 7 images so consider which order to submit them to wow the jurors. When you are uploading your images, select your strongest image to upload first - this will be your ‘feature image’ (with a red star) and the first image jurors see. Think about the story this body of work is telling as you click through the images. Similar to a job interview, you want to start and end strong.

4. Don’t ignore your statement!

You only have 700 characters (NOT words!) in total to tell the jury about your artwork. For the Bio (500 characters), treat it like an Artist Statement, use it to describe where you are coming from and how it informs your artwork.

For the Descriptions of Works (200 characters), expand on your techniques or what inspires your work.

You won’t be in the room to answer any questions the jury might have so be as descriptive as possible. If there is something unique about your process, or your subject matter is unusual, expand on it. You can also write about your education and accolades if there’s room, but making sure the jury has enough information about the portfolio they’re looking at is more important.

Don’t just copy and paste your usual bio - work with a character counter to maximize the important points only.

5. The Booth, the Whole Booth, and Nothing but the Booth

Don’t skip your booth/grouping image, missing booth images will have points deducted. It is as important as the rest of your submission material. Why do we need a booth image you ask? Think of your booth as your temporary gallery space. The jury wants to get an idea of how your work will be displayed at the Fair Your booth image also allows jurors to get a better sense of the scale of your work.

The ideal booth image is:

  • professional looking, clean
  • free of clutter and debris, no artwork on the ground
  • Free of distractions -  no people (including yourself), or signage
  • Curated, shows only your best work (not filled top to bottom)

The booth image may not be digitally created or drawn. It should give the jurors an idea of how you will display your works at the Fair.

Examples of a strong booth shots:


Image courtesy of Lizz Aston


Image courtesy of Matt Beasant

Why is it Good?

  • It is clean and free of clutter and people, allowing jurors to see the pieces in the booth.
  • The works are arranged symmetrically along the same sight line/even space between artworks and evenly lit.
  • The picture is taken straight on, using a tripod, and cropped to the edges of the canopy which helps make your work stand out.
  • Shows some of the floor for a better sense of scale
  • Single body of work

Click here for more advice on how to photograph your booth.

6. Don’t have a booth photo? No problem!

If you don’t have a booth image from a previous show, you can provide a grouping image of the pieces you are submitting. Your grouping image should give jurors a sense of the scale of your pieces. Works should be installed against a neutral backdrop, without furniture or other objects in the way. Two-dimensional work should be installed directly on a wall as a grouping. For three-dimensional work, you can make your own ‘mock’ display using a table top with a neutral tablecloth. To avoid unwanted reflections, don’t use a flash. A sampling/similar artwork to your first 7 images should be included in your booth/installation photo.  You do not have to include all 7 images in your installation image, a sampling of 3-4 is okay, depending on the size of your artwork.

Booth Shot Alternatives:



Image courtesy of Elycia SFA

Image courtesy of Aysegul Birol


Image courtesy of Helen Liene Dreifelds

Good Luck!