As an artist, in order to be taken seriously, you must enter into juried shows and competitions. Why is this? By entering and be accepted in any competition or show you are basically getting a “third party endorsement” of your work. What do I mean by that? The goal is for you to sell your art to another party. That other party likes your work but needs the justification to purchase your work. By having someone else of authority endorsing your work (the judge or jury of an art competition) you are providing that art buyer with the justification that what they are buying (you and your art) is exceptional and worth their purchase.
What can an artist do to increase the chance of being selected into a juried show?
1. Understand the Theme
It is amazing how many artists do not follow or try to match the art that they are entering, into the show’s theme or by entering in the proper categories that are available for that show. I am not sure why this is, but be honest with yourself and if you cannot be objective about this, get some help. Do not enter the competition if your work does not match the theme. Save your time, effort and money.
2. Read and Understand the Rules Thoroughly
The number one reason that artists are not accepted into shows is that they did not read or understand the rules thoroughly. Read the rules once. The read the rules a second time and highlight or underline the key parameters. Then finally read the rules once more. Check your highlight notes against the contest rules in order to understand exactly what it is that they need and require of your entry.
3. Follow the Rules
This will sound stupid, but just follow the rules. Do not deviate from the rules. This can be anything from sizing, to resolution, to image, to quality, to framing, to artist statement, to deadlines, etc. When I first started entering into competitions I exceeded what the rules required, by sending in with my entry my bio, my resume, along with my business card and postcards from last exhibition. Guess what? They did not want that and I was rejected because I had included those materials. Entering into a show is not like school where you will get extra credit. Just follow the rules, exactly as they say to. If you do not understand something then call the appropriate person in charge to get your question answered or clarified.
4. Enter the Maximum Amount of Pieces That You are Allowed
Try to enter as many pieces of art work as possible, as this will increase the odds of getting your art work noticed by the judges. This also helps and demonstrates to the jury that you have more outstanding pieces and an overall body of work.
5. Provide Your Best Work Over and Over Again
I discovered that I had some artwork that most everyone liked and I saw that when I entered those pieces in a competition, I usually was accepted into the show. I then tried to use those pieces exclusively until they were no longer acceptable, due to age constraints. Think of it as “market research” as the market is telling you which pieces of art work is good, so keep on showing it whenever possible.
6. Provide the Details but Not Any More than That
This goes along with follow the rules. Do not do or provide anything more than what the rules ask for. This will only get you rejected or noticed for the wrong reasons. The judges are usually donating their time and efforts for these competitions, do not get them to look at your work or presentation negatively.
7. Enter As Many Shows as Possible
Enter as many shows as possible or as many as you can afford. You want to do this for a couple of reasons. First, you need to expose your art to as many people as possible. Second, you are trying to develop your resume and by entering as many shows as possible you will build your resume more quickly. Third, by entering a lot of shows, you can become more selective to the themes and the parameters of each show that will match your work more closely, thus increasing your chances of being accepted.
8. Don’t Take it Personally If Your Don’t Get In
Finally, do not get upset, rejected or think negatively about yourself and your art if you are not accepted into a show. The decision whether your art is accepted or not is a very subjective judgment from the person who is making that decision. Your art is probably as good as anyone else’s art. For whatever reason, yours was not chosen. It is as simple as that. Do not worry about it as it is not a reflection upon you, your art or anything else. Just forget it and enter another show.
It takes courage for an artist to enter their work into art competitions, as they are potentially exposing their art to the possibility of rejection. Yet, it is through these competitions and being accepted into these shows that your art will be considered “serious”. Art shows and competitions are a necessary evil and it is something that all artists must go through.
In order to increase your chances of being accepted into an art competition, follow these suggestions and Good luck!