Tips for Being Accepted into More Art Competitions

by John R. Math on May 14, 2011

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The “juried process” is a necessary career step if an artist wants to be considered as a serious artist. In order to help build and develop their artistic resume’ artists will find it necessary to enter juried art competitions on a regular basis. By entering and being accepted into juried art competitions, this becomes a “third party” endorsement of the artist’s skill and artistic talents.

It is through juried art competitions and juried art shows that an artist’s career and professional development will progress. By successfully participating the artist will then be taken more seriously by art galleries, art buyers and art reps. It is a progression and a process that takes time for an artist to learn and to adapt to in order to succeed.

This article will hopefully make the artist who is new to art competitions, aware of some major areas as to why their art is rejected when entering a juried show. Many times it is not the quality of the art that is being rejected but rather it something else that the artist did or did not pay enough attention to in the competition’s prospectus, rules and underlying theme. Here are some points to consider and to be aware of when entering art juried art competitions:

1.   Apply only to competitions that truly fit to your art.

Artists will sometimes miss what the organization is really after in terms of the theme or the parameters of the competition. For instance, an artist who submits their Black and White photography into a competition with a theme about “Bold or Bright Colors” will get rejected. I know there are people reading this who are saying “but black and white are colors too!” Yes they are, but black and white are not in keeping with the spirit of the theme and scope of the show. We only want 2 dimensional art for our shows and we still receive pictures of sculpture, jewelry and crafts or even videos! Many times the work is fantastic, but again it is not what we want and the artist has wasted their time and money by placing their art into a competition that just is not suited for what they create.

2.   Submit the best representation of the actual art.

What does this mean? Every month we receive entries whereby the artist has taken a picture of their art with a “point and shoot” camera. The art was not level, the camera is not perpendicular to the art, the image is under/over exposed, the background is showing, the picture frame is in the image, there are hot spots on the art and pictures are taken with reflections in the frame. It may be obvious that the art may have the potential to be good, or even exceptional, but we really cannot tell based on what was submitted.

The artist should either learn to take the images the right way (and there is a ton of information on the Internet how to do this), hire a professional to do this or take their art and have a professional scan the art. I would learn how to do this the right way as the last two suggestions are expensive.

3.   Follow the organizations rules, event and prospectus instructions completely.

This means that in order to have your application and submissions handled and administered properly read the application thoroughly and follow their instructions. It also, means that the application should be filled out entirely, with the correct amount of images and the image files labeled properly, according to the organizations specifications.

In many instances, files are not labeled at all. This may set the artist up for not getting their art viewed at all, as there is then the possibility that the files could get lost. For instance, for our competitions we want the files labeled in the following manner: Artist Last Name, Entry Number, Competition Name, and Title of the art. It would look like this: Smith_1_Abstract_Title.jpg. This would allow us, at any time to locate and identify this entry. This is very important to an organization. This procedure is a simple right click on the image file and a “rename” like any other document. Take the time to do this correctly.

Also, learn how to re-size your image files according to the instructions provided for that competition. Besides an expensive program like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements there are two other free programs http://pixlr.com/express/ and http://www.gimp.org/ that are more than adequate for this purpose. Just take a few copies of images that are not important to you and begin to experiment on how these programs work. The easier of the two programs is the Pixlr program. (See #5 below as it Relates to This Subject)

4.   Try to submit and present art that relates.

By this we mean that the art that you are entering should show a complete grasp and mastery with that particular media. As an artist, you may work within several different styles and media. Stay with one media for your entries as this is demonstrating to the judge that you do have a cohesive body of work. Your show’s entries should also relate in terms of media, color and style, all within the scope or the theme of that particular competition.

5.   Choose the order of the images submitted carefully.

Initially, competition judges and juries will view your images (projected together) from left to right and top to bottom. However, after this initial view they will come back to that group of images from bottom to top and from right to left (the opposite direction). This is where you want to have your strongest and best work, at bottom or the end of the group of images submitted (as this is where you want to draw the judges attention). This is also why you want to learn and master the labeling your image files properly, because you then control the order of the files, rather than by some digital random basis. (See #3 above as it Relates to This Subject)

If you are serious about being a “serious” artist follow these tips and suggestions. After the art show opens, always try to view the art that was accepted into that show and then be as objective as possible with yourself (or have an knowledgeable art friend assist you) as to the possible reasons why your work was not accepted. It may not have been the quality of your art, but it may have been one of the other reasons, as stated above. Work on these tips and incorporate them into future submissions and your chances will go up dramatically for being accepted into your next juried art competition.

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