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6 Art Competition Mistakes Made by Artists

Since 2010 Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery has received, processed, and judged thousands of entries for our monthly themed online art competitions. The following are the six most common mistakes made by artists that we see when entering art competitions.

Artists should avoid making these common mistakes when entering juried art calls, art competitions and art contests:

1.  Not Understanding the Rules before Submitting Artwork

The art organization that is conducting their call for art has developed their competition rules in order to administer, process and judge the art in a thorough and systematic manner.

They have very good reasons why they want the submitted artwork to be labeled, sized and named in a certain way. The organization wants to identify and judge the best art for their competition.  As an artist, always try to understand exactly what the organization wants from their entries and then conform to their entry process.

2.  Not Understanding the Competition’s Theme & Media

Understand what the group wants from the artist for this particular competition.  If it says that they accept 2 dimensional art, do not submit 3 dimensional art or crafts. If it says no photography, do not expect the organization to provide you with an exception. There are many other venues and organizations who are conducting calls for your type of art.

If you have any questions or concerns about the theme or what is acceptable media, contact and discuss this with the organization’s event staff.  You can save yourself and the staff a lot of trouble, wasted time and effort by having your theme and media questions clarified.

3.  Not Understanding Judging Criteria for the Art Contest

When entering art competitions and art contests, read and reread the theme, rules and judging criteria closely and thoroughly.  If in the organization’s Competition Prospectus these questions are not spelled out thoroughly or are omitted, then it is incumbent upon the artist to get these questions and points answered.  When in doubt, call the organization and have them clarified.

If at that point, if the artist cannot honestly meet the competition rules and judging criteria, they should not waste their entry fees since they cannot conform to the competition’s governing conditions.

4.  Provide a Biography or Artist’s Statement If Required

Many art organizations want an artist biography or an artist’s statement as part of their entry package.  Prior to entering an art competition, an artist should have both a bio and artist’s statement prepared and ready to be distributed.  No matter what the artist’s experience or art education, if asked to provide these materials, artists should meet this requirement to the best of their ability. 

Well-written biographies and statements can help an artist in being accepted into a show.  The artist should have several different sized bios prepared and available to simplify this process.

5.  Failure to Follow the Art Organization’s Sizing Requirements

If the group asks for certain sized submissions in terms of pixels or inches, this should be followed. There is no excuse not have the art sized properly as there are many free art editing programs available online. (Among others, Microsoft’s Paint Program can be used for this purpose).

Artists should always follow the size, resolution and quality settings that the organization requests. The main reason for this requirement is to standardize the judging process and if all of the entries are the same size (longest side of the image) and same resolution, it will help the jury judge and make decisions about the art.

6.  Failure to Provide the Best Quality Images

There are many times that art organizations will choose one person’s art over another person’s because the quality of the image submitted was poor.  When paintings are photographed or scanned for presentation purposes, the image may be poorly cropped (showing part of the mat or frame), turn out too dark or too light or the colors or contrast may be out of balance.

The artist should present their work to the gallery and jurors as if they were trying to sell their art to them in person.  You only get one chance to impress the juror and this is not the time to get sloppy with your art submission.

There is a reason why they call it a “competition” and as an artist you are competing with all of the other submitters for a limited number of places in that organization’s art exhibition.

Make sure your art is prepared and submitted in the way in which that organization wants your art presented. Do not give them a reason to reject your art by either not following the rules or by not providing them with art that is gallery worthy.

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