Entering your work into a festival or gallery is a huge step for you as an artist. It’s one that makes you turn on Kelly Clarkson, pop the champagne, and break out the gummy worms. (If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, watch The Office.) In short, it’s the opportunity you’ve been looking for and you want to do everything you can to nail it.
I recently served as a guest juror for an out-of-state-arts festival. Based entirely on what was submitted from the artists, I was tasked with ranking work in about seven categories based on three images of the artwork and one image of a previous booth or table display. Through this experience, I got to see some incredible new work and once the names are revealed to me, I’m looking forward to following some of these artists in hopes of owning pieces of their stunning work someday. Unfortunately, I also saw a lot of applications that prompted me to mutter, “WHY!” audibly at my computer monitor. Jeanie and Porter did not like this particular part of the process too much.
First, I want to be clear that any artist regardless of your medium should keep this in mind when submitting artwork to show jurors. Whether you are entering a $30,000 painting or a $45 handknit scarf, you must demonstrate how seriously you take your art and, if chosen, you present well at their festival. After all, they want to make sure the patrons at the festival or gallery have a good experience; they’re choosing the pieces that reflect well on them, so you have to show quality work that reflects well on you. Now, some of these things don’t matter to buyers, but if a juror ranks you poorly, you never get the opportunity to get your work in front of the buyers. Catch-22, amiright?
Clean and Simple Photography
Ideally, you take the time to have your finished work photographed by a professional. Trust me, the difference is apparent to the trained eye and all of the jurors have trained eyes. Hell, it’s even apparent to the untrained eye.
First, don’t take photos in direct sunlight. Your whites will blow out. You know when you take a photo with a flash and you can’t see the detail in a photo? That’s what I’m talking about. Why would you want that to happen to your artwork that’s dependent on a photo for entrance to a festival?
Second, find and utilize a plain background. Let your work be the center of attention and the photo. And for the love of gluten free pizza crust, do not add fake backgrounds or fake reflections. It’s obvious. It’s, oh, so tacky. It’s a massive waste of time.
Consistency in Presentation and Imagery
Clear and Simple Writing
For an application to anything non-academic, you don’t need to write a dissertation about your inspiration and process. However, you do have to write clearly and confidently about what you do and why. Like I mentioned when guiding you through writing an artist statement, hearing the story behind the work increases the understanding of you and your art.
Understanding of the Rules
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