Tips on Entering a Judged Art Competition
By Jane Allen Nodine
Juror for 2011 CAL/Siemens Exhibit
Judging and Jurying; Process and Product
Jane Allen Nodine, MFA
Professor of Art
Director, Curtis R. Harley Gallery
University of South Carolina Upstate
Charlotte Art League December 2011 Program Speaker
Judge: to form an opinion about or estimation of after careful consideration.
Categories of Competition
• Juried Exhibitions
• Gallery representation
I. Juried Exhibitions
Define Your Mission/Priorities___________________________________________________________
• What opportunities best fit you and your work?
Consider your skill level, your medium, and the subject/content of your work.
• Are you ready for the competitive process?
• Are you working independently or under supervision of an instructor?
• What are you looking to gain from the jury process?
• Are you mentally prepared to accept the results of the competitive process?
Rejection is painful, but serves as part of the learning/growing experience.
Research/Do Your Homework____________________________________________________________
• Opportunities – Who, what, when, where?
• What do you know about the sponsoring organization?
Profit, non-profit, professional or amateur, corporate, educational, local or national, established or newly organized.
• What is the exhibition venue?
Gallery space, museum, warehouse, commercial business, public/private.
• What is the clientele/traffic for the exhibition space?
Public/private, hi-traffic location, well known or out of the way with little visibility.
• What is the category/topic of the competition?
Open, thematic, by membership only, professional, amateur, student.
• What fees are required?
Entry, shipping to/from, storage & handling, percentage taken from sales.
• What do you know about the judge?
Working artist, instructor/teacher, gallerist, curator, art historian, none of the above.
Cash, purchase awards, product awards, solo exhibition, etc.
• Overall, how much will this cost?
Calculate time invested for preparation, transportation, shipping, entry fees, insurance, potential risk of damage to artwork.
• Is this a good fit for you and your work?
In the previous questions, are you in the 85 to 100% range for positively meeting criteria?
• If the answer is YES then plan your entry.
• Read the prospectus and note eligibility requirements for the entrant and the works.
• Note all requirements and deadlines.
• Make an accurate timeline for activities.
• Review the works you plan to enter.
• Check for damage, frames, mats, pedestals, hooks, wiring, fingerprints, smudges, general freshness and precision, labels for identification.
• Keep clear, concise records for each venue/entry you make.
• Avoid overlapping entries in several venues. Most exhibitions will not allow early withdrawal of the work from a show.
• What you can control____________________________________________________________________
• Slide submissions – Image quality. This is very important.
Clear, in focus, accurate color, no cast shadows, proper lighting/no hot spots/reflections, no extraneous objects or voids of space. The image should always be an accurate representation of your work. Professional‐quality images are imperative. While this does not mean that you have to hire a professional, it does mean that if you take your own photos, they must look like a professional shot them. Details and installation shots should be included when necessary, but generally no more than two images of a work and always follow the Prospectus Guidelines.
• Actual work submissions – Finished works, prepared for presentation, clean edges, no smudges or stains, no fingerprints on glass, true and straight edges and frames—no warped items, no rips/tears or extraneous marks not related to the art.
• If you and your work fit the venue.
• Follow all guidelines as stated in the prospectus and meet all deadlines.
• Accuracy and professional quality for any required written materials such as artist statement, bio, descriptions, is a must.
• Address the process in a professional manner. Required printed materials are a business document that should be clear, clean and concise. Avoid decorative designs and embellishments. Proof read and get outside opinions. Avoid being wordy and prosaic in your writing.
• Complete all required material – omissions are cause for rejection.
• What you cannot control________________________________________________________________
• The environment in which the work is reviewed.
• The order in which your work is reviewed.
• Personal taste, bias, or prejudice.
• Uninformed jurors.
• Mood of the judge.
• The level of competition/qt of entries– the more attractive the opportunity, the stiffer the competition.
• Things to consider before you begin entering competitions
Here are a few of the dilemmas regarding juried exhibitions:
• If your work is too familiar, it is may not be challenging.
• If your work is too unfamiliar, then it may not fit the current discourse.
• If there is no continuum, a dialogue with previous artists, your work doesn’t address art history.
• If your work is non-traditional then you may be unskilled.
• If your work is highly skilled then you may be too traditional.
• If you avoid technology in your work, it may not be contemporary.
• If your work fits too well, it may be trendy.
Seek peers and respected professionals to discuss and critique your work in order to gain a better understanding of who you are as an artist and how your work relates to the art environment.
Typical Judging Criteria
• initial effect – stimulation – visual impact
• sense “presence”, it “works”
• medium identity and control, complexity
• analysis of detail, attention to finishing/refinement
• discovery of conceptual message(s), meaning, statement
• historical context of the piece
• social, cultural, political context
• composition and formal elements
• appropriateness of title with piece, clarity, conceptual depth
• generalization of over-all quality
• relative merit to rest of pieces in the juried exhibition
• information/background of artist __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Judge’s Statement: Jane Allen Nodine, The Power of Innovation, CAL Competition, November 2011
In making my selections for the 2011 exhibition I first noted works with visual impact. That impact includes aspects of intrigue, mystery, awe, satisfaction, tension, discomfort, challenge or surprise. Execution and craftsmanship are integral to the analysis process along with the content/subject matter of work, originality, innovation and personal expression. Ordinary subjects need not render ordinary art, and I rejoice in seeing the intuitive, innovative, and inquiring artist venture beyond common ground to redefine mundane subjects with a new vantage point. It is a pleasure to see insignificant materials redefined and raised to levels beyond their original intent, and I admire conventional techniques mastered and then filtered through the artist’s perspective into a contemporary world.
Presentation concerns such as matting, framing or bases, and the selection and application of materials also influence my overall decision when judging. Strong work is weakened or recontextualized by the obtrusive use of materials or techniques not integrated into the work, and in some cases framing or the artist’s signature interferes and detracts from a piece. Regarding awards, I made selections I believe met the energy, power, sustainability, or innovation criteria of the competition.
II. Grants/Fellowships and Commissions
Follow the guidelines listed above and include the following:
• Review examples of other artist grants to get an understanding of the “voice” and wording necessary for these types of applications.
• Complete all required questions, materials and documentation. Leaving requirements blank will make the application ineligible.
• Have work professionally photographed.
• Follow all guidelines exactly as stated.
• Meet all deadlines.
III. Gallery Representation
Follow the above criteria and include the following:
• Visit potential galleries to see the type of work they represent.
If your work is not a fit, do not waste your time and the time of the gallery.
• If you find gallery(s) that are a fit for your work, make an effort to contact artists they represent and gain insight into their business practices.
• When you identify a gallery that is a good fit, prepare a professional presentation packet that includes a cover letter with the following on a CD/DVD:
• Digital portfolio – 10 to 20 recent & cohesive slides, representative of your work
• Resume – 1 to 2 pages
• Biography – 1 or 2 paragraphs
• Artist Statement – 1 or 2 paragraphs
• Cover letter stating your position/request for consideration with current contact info for email, website, regular mail and phone
• Visit the gallery and ask for the owner or manager, introduce yourself and state that you wish to leave a presentation packet for review.
• Be professional, don’t argue or respond negatively.
• Follow your visit with an email thanking the gallery for meeting with you.
• Don’t expect to get the materials in the presentation packet returned.
(Thanks to the following colleagues and friends for selected contributions to this material: Joyce Owens, Laura Moriarty, Miles Conrad)
List Your Accomplishments
by Alyson Stanfield
Write down everything you achieved in 2010.
Here is an inventory of questions to get you started.
In 2010 . . .
- How did you promote your art?
- What did you do to enhance your online presence?
- What technological skills did you learn or improve?
- How many people did you add to your mailing list?
- How many Twitter followers or Facebook fans did you gain?
- Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
- Whom did you mentor or help out?
- When did you ask for help or hire someone?
- What new marketing material did you develop and use?
- What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
- What did you try that was completely new?
- What did you try that was uncomfortable, but helped you grow?
- What worthy cause did you support?
- What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
- What resources did you discover?
- How did you improve your studio habits?
- What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
- What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend or teach?
- How did you enhance your office or studio environment?
- What organizations were you involved with?
- What grants did you apply for?
- What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
- What articles were written about your work?
- Where did you exhibit or retail your art?
- Where did you save a wad of money?
- What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2010?
Art Marketing Links
Pricing Your Art: 10 Rules
By ALYSON STANFIELD on Aug. 15, 2005
- Your prices must be consistent. You don’t sell work more cheaply from your open studio than at a gallery. You have one price and do not undersell your representatives. If you do, word will get around and no one will be willing to represent you.
- Start on the low end, while paying yourself enough. You can always raise your prices. It’s nearly suicidal to lower your prices and it won’t make your current buyers happy at all.
- Don’t forget to pay yourself a wage! This is the most common mistake, I think. Yes, you have to cover overhead and materials, but you also need to be paid for your time.
- As a general rule, originals sell for more than reproductions and larger works sell for more than smaller works.
- As a general rule, works with more expensive materials (bronze, precious gems) command higher prices.
- You have competition. They are not doing the exact same thing you’re doing (who is?!), but they’re working in the same genre (abstract, local landscape, portraits). And, they’re at about the same level as you (beginning, emerging, established). What is their pricing like and are they selling?
- The faster you work and more prolific you are, the lower your prices — in general!
- Of course, if you can’t produce enough work to keep up with the demand, it’s time to raise your prices.
- Instead of lowering your prices, you’re free to offer discounts for friends, family, and your best customers. Call it a discount and write it up as such so they know the true value.
- When you draw up a contract with a gallery or art consultant (YES! You should have a contract with everyone!), make sure you list your prices as retail prices.That means they should be sold for that amount. If you list them only as wholesale prices, the dealer could sell them for three times as much as you’re asking and you get only 1/3 of the sales price. Fair? Hardly. You need to know what your work is selling for. You need to have control of it.
A Procedure for Email Inquiries
Stop Art Scams Blog
Some Things to Remember About Exhibiting in a New Venue
By Alyson Stanfield
One of the most exciting times in a young art career is delivering your art to an exhibition venue for the first time.
You comply with all of the preparation rules, but don’t really know what to expect when you arrive at the venue.
Here’s how this scene should go down.
- Someone (someone nice!) is there to greet you and give you instructions for where to place your art.
- Art should handled by people who know what they’re doing. Preferably, these people should be wearing white cotton gloves.
- Art shouldn’t be stacked directly on top of other art — whether it’s flat or leaning against the wall. If space is a consideration, art should always be separated by large sheets of cardboard to protect against rubbing or scratching.
- Often the floor is the only place to put art. This is fine as long as the floor is clean and protected. We used to place cardboard underneath each piece of art on the floor.
- The nice greeter-person should check your art to see that it complies with their installation requirements. They should also look at it to see that all of your information is with the piece and that the piece is in good condition. If anything is banged up or broken, the nice greeter-person (called a “registrar” at museums and places that actually have such titles) should make note of it on a loan form.
- That’s right! You need a loan agreement. Never leave your art in anyone’s care without a piece of paper.
What’s on a Loan Agreement
Whether it’s called a loan agreement, exhibit contract, or anything else, the piece of paper you sign should state your name (check spelling!) as well as the title, dimensions, and value of each piece you’re leaving in someone else’s care.
Your agreement should be clear that you retain ownership and copyright and that the venue agrees to insure the work while they have it in their possession. The art should not leave that venue without your written consent.
You get bonus points if you go to the venue with a photo printout of your art that you can attach to the agreement.
The agreement should be signed by both you and a representative for the venue.
If the Venue Doesn’t Have an Agreement
So, this is the ideal scenario, although I’ve certainly left out a step or two. But what if you get to the drop-off place and no one hands you a piece of paper to sign?
It’s for instances like this that you carry your own loan agreements with you. You’ll need 2 copies: 1 for you and another for the borrower. If you print these out at home, you can add an image of the work to the document.
Check out Harriete Estel Berman’s Exhibition Contract in her thorough Professional Guidelines.
You should also have a copy of Tad Crawford’s Legal Guide for the Visual Artist on your shelf.
If there is no paper, you didn’t bring your own agreement, and you still want to leave your art there, I suggest getting a photo of an official venue representative with your art. I’m not an attorney, so this isn’t legal advice, but at least you’d have evidence that you left the piece in their care.
Just know: Your art is your responsibility. Treat your art as you would like others to.