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Think Like a Judge When Entering Art Contests

think like a judge

It is very difficult for most artists when entering an art competition to evaluate their entries objectively. Questions which come to mind are; will my art measure-up to everyone else’s? Is my style of art what they are looking for? Is my work good enough to be accepted? What are my reasons for entering this competition? Am I entering this art competition for validation, exposure or for the prize money? These questions can stress an artist to the point of paralysis!

In order to proceed further, the artist needs to make a determination as to their exact purpose for and objective in entering this art competition. Does it meet the artist’s needs?

Is this a judged event or is this a juried event? Is this a local, regional or international event? Is there a theme or subject? What type of art organization is conducting this event? These questions should be answered prior to entering any art competition.

Let’s review these points in more detail in order to help the artist determine whether this is the right competition to enter or not;

  • A judged art event means that the art which is selected will be evaluated and ranked for recognition against the other art which was submitted. Many local, small or regional art events are handled in this manner.
  • In a juried art event, a panel or group of judges will determine whether the art submitted is to be included in the event or not. This type of selection process is used for larger art competitions. The show created by a juried event is subject to a variety of influences: the artistic tastes of the jurors, the politics of the local and larger art world, relationships with the sponsoring parties. The results may or may not produce a high level show.
  • A non-juried show is one that will include all entries submitted. These are usually conducted by art membership organizations, artist registries and invitational art events. These are a great way for new artists to begin but they will not carry as much weight on a resume as a judged or a juried event.
  • Some art shows combine the judged and juried art processes. The art is juried as to whether it is to be included in the event and thereafter the selected art will be judged.
  • Different types of judges will evaluate art differently. For instance, judges who look at and evaluate art all day often respond to new and unusual art. They look for and respond to the “Wow Factor”.

Art collectors, art consultants and art buyers who are judges will usually be more conservative and “safe” in their evaluations and selections, as this is how they buy and collect art.

A judge, who is also an artist, will be more critical of any art that is within their specialty or in the media which they also employ. The rationale for this is that they will not select art in their genre/style that is not as good as their own art.

Many times we see artists who research the judges in order to match their style of art with the judge’s. This can backfire on an artist, as that judge will be more critical and subjective about that art than another judge with a different artistic genre/style.

To me, the following are the most important determining factors for getting into an art show or art exhibition;

  • Follow the Competition Rules and Prospectus Exactly.
  • Submit Art Only Within the Subject or Theme of the Event.
  • Provide the Best Quality Images Possible.
  • Enter the Maximum Amount Entries Allowed.

No matter what we like to think, the judging process will come down to a subjective decision by the judge. If your art is not selected, it really does not mean much. The next time you enter that same art into another art competition, with another judge, the results may be totally different for you.

After the selections have been made, whether your art is in or out, review the entries that were selected and objectively evaluate that art against your own. This may help you with the direction of your art for the future.

Do not ever give up entering more art competitions. Be smart about it, do some research and remember to think like a judge in order be more successful when entering future art competitions.

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