Top 8 Mistakes When Entering Juried Art Contests

by John R. Math on December 1, 2010

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Every month Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery receives, processes, administers and judges hundreds of entries for our monthly themed art competitions. We would estimate that at least 35% of the entries received, are not being submitted properly or are showing the artist’s work in its best light. The following are some of the most common mistakes that we see each month.  When entering any art contest, try to make sure that you are not making some of these common mistakes when entering juried art calls and juried art competitions:

1. Read the Rules Thoroughly Prior to Submitting Your Work

The organization that is conducting the art call has developed their competition rules in order to administer, process and judge the art in a thorough and systematic manner. They have very good reasons why they want the submitted artwork to be labeled, sized and named in a certain way. Try to understand exactly what they want and conform to their process.

2. Be Aware of the Competition’s Deadline

The group who is managing the competition has created a deadline for a purpose. Their advertising, collateral materials and judge/juror schedules revolves around this timetable/deadline. It is absolutely unfair for an artist to expect the organization to change their schedule in order to help the artist with their scheduling issues. In addition, it is not fair to all of the other artists who got their submissions to the organization properly and on time.

3. Thoroughly Understand the Competition’s Theme & Media

Understand what the group wants from the artist. If it says 2 dimensional art, do not submit your jewelry, sculpture or crafts. If it says no photography, do not expect the organization to provide to you an exception. There are lots of other venues and organizations who are conducting calls for your type of art.

If you have any questions or concerns about the theme or what is acceptable media, contact and discuss this with the organization’s event staff. You can save yourself and the staff a lot of trouble, wasted time and effort by asking or having the theme and media questions clarified.

4. Label the Entries in Their Format, Not Yours

The group who is conducting the call for art wants the entries in a certain form for identifying, administering and for judging purposes. By not labeling your entries properly, your art may not be judged if it is lost or mishandled due to this issue.

5. Provide and Enter the Maximum Amount of Entries Allowed

If a competition is asking for 3 images, give them the 3 images. Many times we receive only 1 or 2 images when we are asking for 5 images. A judge would like to see that the artist has a consistent style and technique. Additional images will help the juror to evaluate your art more closely.

6. Provide a Biography If They Ask For It

Many times we do not receive a biography with the artist’s submissions. Either the artist is too busy, is lazy or embarrassed to provide a biography. This brief amount of information could possibly help the artist in getting accepted into that show. There have been times when a certain artist’s work has been accepted into the show, only to find out that they have not provided a biography. This will usually lead to the artwork being withdrawn from the exhibition. Have several sized bios ready made and available that will help in this purpose.

7. Follow the Organization’s Sizing Requirements

If the group is asking for certain size submissions in terms of pixels or inches follow it. There is no excuse to not have the art sized properly as there are many free art editing programs that can be downloaded online. Follow the size, resolution and quality settings that they are asking for. The main reason for this is that they are trying to standardize the judging process and if all of the entries are the same size (longest side of the image) and same resolution it will help the juror to make a better judgment and decision about your art.

8. Provide Good Quality Images Without Frames

There are many times that I have had to choose someone else’s art over another where the quality of the image/entry was poorly presented. I see entries where the paintings have been reproduced (photographed or scanned) for presentation purposes and as submitted they are poorly cropped (where you see part of the mat or frame), the image is too dark or is too light and overall the colors and contrast are out of balance. The artist’s presentation to the gallery and the jurors should be as if they were trying to sell your art to them in person. You only get one chance to impress the juror and this is not the time to get sloppy with your art submission.

There is a reason why they call it a “competition” as you are competing with other artists for a limited amount of places in that organization’s exhibition. Make sure your art is being prepared and submitted according to way in which that organization wants your art presented. Do not give them a reason to reject your art by either not following the rules or by not providing them with art that is not gallery worthy.

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