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Pastellus: Successfully Enter an Art Show, Exhibition and/or Competition

The last column of Pastellus focused on what judges look for when jurying a show. This installment will look into things you can do to help your work be accepted. Entering shows, exhibitions and competitions is a necessary step for artists who want to be considered serious artists. Acceptance into juried shows and exhibitions helps build your resume and lend credibility to your work, allowing your art career and professional development to progress. Below are items to keep in mind when entering a show. These tips are a compilation of research with the aim of helping you be successful when entering an art show. 1. Make sure the competition fits your artwork. It is not beneficial for a pastel artist to enter a show geared towards photography. Although your work may be beautiful and meet the landscape theme advertised it will be rejected because it is not a photograph. Keep in mind that most shows receive many more submissions than they have room to show, so making sure that you are choosing shows that fit your art will increase your odds of success. 2. Follow the organizations rules completely. Read and understand the prospectus. Fill out the application entirely and legibly. Label your images as requested; often images labeled incorrectly will not make it to the jurors for review, it is critical that this is accurate. Learn how to resize your photos to the organizations requirements. You don’t have to have expensive software like Photoshop or Photo Elements, there are other free programs for this purpose;, and Spend time learning how to use these programs so your artwork will get the attention it deserves from the jurors. 3. Submit and Present art that relates. If you are submitting more than one piece your entries should show a grasp and mastery of one medium and subject. Joanne Fox, an exhibiting artist for 30 years and a juror for such prestigious organizations as the Sausalito Art Festival in California and the American Craft Council, says it’s critical to submit works that relate to one another. “Even if you do different kinds of artwork, such as watercolor, drawing and collage,” says Fox, “you don’t want to present all those media in one show application.” Fox says that artists need to present one strong body of consistent work for the jurors to be able to judge properly. “Everything should relate visually,” she says, “with similar colors and the same style.” 4. Spend time on your artist’s statement. If asked for an artist’s statement take the time to write a compelling paragraph that generally introduces your work, inspiration and medium. There is a wealth of information on artist statements online waiting to be googled! Jurors do read these statements, which help them get to know you and your artwork. 5. Submit the best representation of actual art. In order for your artwork to be fairly evaluated and judged, the jurors need to be presented an actual representation of the art you have submitted. This is by far the single most important item when entering a show, exhibition or competition. It can also be the hardest. If possible use a professional photographer, as they will be able to capture a realistic representation of the artwork, resize it according to the organizations rules or prospectus and make sure that the photo has been cropped and color corrected. If a professional photographer is not possible, check with the organization you are submitting to, many organizations have directions you can follow to ensure your artwork meets their criteria. If not, follow the general guidelines below. Take a high resolution photograph 300dpi or higher. -Often images are projected on a large screen, so it is important your photo will stand up to being enlarged. Do not photograph framed artwork, the glass will interfere with the picture, Make sure there is plenty of natural light when photographing your work. - Natural or indirect light is the best light; it reduces the risk of color cast (yellow or blue whites). Photograph your artwork outside when possible. Make sure there are no hot spots or glare (areas where the color is washed out due to too much light) and no shadows from the camera or photographer. If photographing inside combine natural light from a large window with overhead lighting. Take several photos, some as close as you can get and others back a bit. This will allow you to choose a photo that most closely resembles the original artwork. Once you have chosen a photo, crop it. -The jurors want to see nothing but art, crop out any background information. Do not put a white border around your work, the jurors may assume this is part of the piece. Cropping can be done on your smartphone or computer photo program. Resize the photo to the size requested by the organization - This is very important, don’t overlook this step. Software information at the bottom of #2 Submit the photo representation of your masterpiece! Following these steps should help increase your odds for success when entering shows, exhibitions and/or competitions. Once you’re accepted If you make it into a show, be certain you display your work in a good frame. When jurors are awarding prizes, Gregg Hertzlieb, director of the Brauer Museum of Art in Valparaiso, Indiana emphasizes that, beyond the quality of the work itself, presentation really counts. “There’s often a jarring disconnect between the work and the way it’s framed,” says Hertzlieb. “Once I sat on a jury that was determining the fate of a really charming folk art painting, but it was surrounded by an elaborate French-style frame. Those two things together canceled each other out.” Hertzlieb, suggests artists find a framer they trust, or at least another artist who’s able to offer a critical eye. Dealing with Rejection After the art show opens, always try to view the art that was accepted into that show and 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. Jurors look for a lot of different things when putting a show together. Often times, the consideration of how a show will “hang together” becomes more important than a juror’s feelings about one particular piece. In other cases, size or media restrictions eliminate pieces that otherwise would be chosen. In the end, there is no way to predict how or why a juror picks specific pieces. Give yourself the credit you deserve for putting your work out there, and don’t ever stop trying! Sources:

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