Each month we receive emails from artists who thought that their art should have placed higher or received more recognition than what it actually did. They believe that there art is good and in most cases it is good art. The reason may have nothing to do with the quality of the art. The reason why it did not place higher may be one of the reasons explored below.
We estimate that at least 30 to 35% of the entries received, are not being submitted properly, thoroughly or are not showing the artist’s artwork in its best light. It is a shame, as there is some very good art that does not get in or placed higher into some exhibitions due to the manner by which the artist has submitted their art.
The following are some of the most common mistakes that we see each month. When entering any art contest, try to make sure that you are not making some of these common mistakes when entering juried art calls and juried art competitions:
1. Understand the Competition’s Theme & Allowed Media
Understand what the theme entails and be honest with yourself prior to submitting your entries. If the prospectus or rules state that the competition is for 2-dimensional art, do not submit your jewelry, sculpture or crafts. If it says no photography, do not expect the organization to provide to you an exception. There are numerous 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 first, prior to submitting your art. You can save yourself a lot of trouble, wasted time, effort and money.
2. Apply Only to Competitions That Truly Fit Your Art
In their haste to submit, artists will sometimes miss what the organization is really after in terms of the theme or the parameters of the competition. For instance, an artist who submits their “Black and White” photography into a competition with a theme about “Bold or Bright Colors” will get rejected. I know there are people reading this who are saying “but black and white are colors too!” Yes, they are, but black and white are not in keeping with the spirit of the theme and within the scope of the show.
Many times the submitted artwork is fantastic, but again it is not what is asked for and the artist has wasted their time and money by placing their art into a competition that just is not suited for the media or for what they create.
3. Follow the Organization’s Sizing Requirements
If the competition is asking for certain size submissions in terms of pixels or inches and resolution, follow it. There is no excuse to not have the art sized properly as there are many free art editing programs that can be downloaded from or used online.
Follow the size, resolution and quality settings that this competition requires. The main reason for this 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 juror to make a better judgment and decision about your art.
Some art that we see entered has a very low resolution or pixel size and when this image is seen in an image viewer it is pixelated or fuzzy. When images that are small are resized to the image size that we require (1000 pixels width x 100 resolution) in many cases this will make the image unusable.
4. Provide Good Quality Images Without Frames
There are many times that we have had to choose someone else’s art over another where the quality of the image/entry was poorly presented. We see entries where the paintings have been reproduced (photographed or scanned) for presentation purposes and as submitted they are poorly cropped (where you see part of the mat, background or frame), the image may be too dark or is too light and overall the colors and contrast are out of balance.
The artist’s presentation to the gallery and the jurors should be as if they were trying to sell your 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.
5. Provide a Biography No Matter What Your Experience
Many times we do not receive a biography with the artist’s submissions. Either the artist is too busy, is lazy or embarrassed to provide a biography. This brief amount of information could possibly help the artist in getting accepted into that show or in being placed higher. There have been times when a certain artist’s work has been accepted into the show, only to find out that they have not provided a biography. This will usually lead to the artwork not being placed as high as it should. You will notice that the top LST artists will have a biography. We suggest that you have several different sized bios ready-made and available that will help in this regard.
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 or placing higher, follow these suggestions and Good luck! Please read our related post titled "Maybe it is Your Presentation and Not Your Art?"
The “juried process” is a necessary career step if an artist wants to be considered as a serious artist. In order to help build and develop their artistic resume’ artists will find it necessary to enter juried art competitions on a regular basis. By entering and being accepted into juried art competitions, this becomes a “third party” endorsement of the artist’s skill and artistic talents.
It is through juried art competitions and juried art shows that an artist’s career and professional development will progress. By successfully participating the artist will then be taken more seriously by art galleries, art buyers, and art reps. It is a progression and a process that takes time for an artist to learn and to adapt to in order to succeed.
This article will hopefully make the artist who is new to art competitions, aware of some major areas as to why their art is rejected when entering a juried show. Many times it is not the quality of the art that is being rejected but rather it something else that the artist did or did not pay enough attention to in the competition’s prospectus, rules, and underlying theme. Here are some points to consider and to be aware of when entering art juried art competitions:
1. Apply Only to Competitions that Truly Fit Your Art.
Artists will sometimes miss what the organization is really after in terms of the theme or the parameters of the competition. For instance, an artist who submits their Black and White photography into a competition with a theme about “Bold or Bright Colors” will get rejected. I know there are people reading this who are saying “but black and white are colors too!” Yes, they are, but black and white are not in keeping with the spirit of the theme and scope of the show. We only want 2-dimensional art for our shows and we still receive pictures of sculpture, jewelry, and crafts or even videos! Many times the work is fantastic, but again it is not what we want and the artist has wasted their time and money by placing their art into a competition that just is not suited for what they create.
2. Submit the Best Representation of the Actual Art.
What does this mean? Every month we receive entries whereby the artist has taken a picture of their art with a “point and shoot” camera. The art was not level, the camera is not perpendicular to the art, the image is under/over exposed, the background is showing, the picture frame is in the image, there are hot spots on the art and pictures are taken with reflections in the frame. It may be obvious that the art may have the potential to be good, or even exceptional, but we really cannot tell based on what was submitted.
The artist should either learn to take the images the right way (and there is a ton of information on the Internet how to do this), hire a professional to do this or take their art and have a professional scan the art. I would learn how to do this the right way as the last two suggestions are expensive.
3. Follow the Organizations Rules & Instructions Completely.
This means that in order to have your application and submissions handled and administered properly read the application thoroughly and follow their instructions. It also, means that the application should be filled out entirely, with the correct amount of images and the image files labeled properly, according to the organization's specifications.
In many instances, files are not labeled at all. This may set the artist up for not getting their art viewed at all, as there is then the possibility that the files could get lost. For instance, for our competitions, we want the files labeled in the following manner: Artist Last Name, Entry Number, Competition Name, and Title of the art. It would look like this: Smith_1_Abstract_Title.jpg. This would allow us, at any time to locate and identify this entry. This is very important to an organization. This procedure is a simple right click on the image file and a “rename” like any other document. Take the time to do this correctly.
Also, learn how to re-size your image files according to the instructions provided for that competition. Besides an expensive program like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, there are three other free programs http://pixlr.com/express, http://www.gimp.org and https://photo-editor.canva.com that are more than adequate for this purpose. Just take a few copies of images that are not important to you and begin to experiment on how these programs work. (See #5 below as it also Relates to This Subject)
4. Try to Submit and Present Art that Relates.
By this, we mean that the art that you are entering should show a complete grasp and mastery with that particular media. As an artist, you may work within several different styles and media. Stay with one media for your entries as this is demonstrating to the judge that you do have a cohesive body of work. Your show’s entries should also relate in terms of media, color, and style, all within the scope or the theme of that particular competition.
5. Choose the Order of the Images Submitted Carefully.
Initially, competition judges and juries will view your images (projected together) from left to right and top to bottom. However, after this initial view they will come back to that group of images from bottom to top and from right to left (the opposite direction). This is where you want to have your strongest and best work, at the bottom or the end of the group of images submitted (as this is where you want to draw the judges attention). This is also why you want to learn and master the labeling your image files properly, because you then control the order of the files, rather than by some digital random basis. (See #3 above as it also Relates to This Subject)
If you are serious about being a “serious” artist follow these tips and suggestions. After the art show opens, always try to view the art that was accepted into that show and then be as objective as possible with yourself (or have a 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. Work on these tips and incorporate them into future submissions and your chances will go up dramatically for being accepted into your next juried art competition.
Most successful artists have worked very hard on their craft in order to get where they are. I believe that we inherit our “creative” genes from our families and that we learn (through trial and error and through experience) how to be a successful artist through our traits and habits of “operating” an art business.
Genetics is the study of genes, and the science of genetics tries to explain to us exactly what they are and how genes work. Our genes dictate how we inherit features from our immediate family and from our ancestors. The science of genetics tries to identify which features are inherited, and how these features are passed from generation to generation.
In genetics, a feature of a living thing is called a "trait" and some traits are inherited through our genes and other traits will come from interactions between our genes and our environment. The combination of inherited genes and environmental circumstance are called phenotypes and are observable behaviors.
We will assume that we have inherited the “Creative” gene from our ancestors, as stated above and that we have the ability to alter our genes through our environment. In this article, our habits and traits will be examined, discussed and compared to the habits and traits of successful artists.
1. A successful artist has established achievable short-term and long-term goals. These established goals are written down and reviewed periodically by the artist in order to judge, grade and gauge themselves in achieving their goals.
2. A successful artist is focused on their art and will not be distracted from their purpose and to their commitment to achieving their goals. To be successful at most things requires a focus and a “singleness of purpose.” Successful artists have this focus, as their art is a priority in their lives.
3. A successful artist will have a passion for their art and a passion for everything else that is associated with being an artist. The passionate artist realizes that in order to be successful they will be required to do things like marketing, bookkeeping, and selling, even when they rather be creating. They are willing to do these “operational” things because they know that it will get them closer to their achievable goals (see #1 above).
4. A successful artist is professional in all of their dealings with the general public, with all gallery owners, with art reps, and with suppliers. Why is this? The artist realizes that in order to market and become a brand a successful artist needs to be professional with everyone, in order to protect their brand. With social media, networking and viral media being what it is today, an artist can be minimized quickly through negative publicity and through negative digital media.
5. A successful artist will identify, capitalize and leverage any opportunities that may come their way. Successful artists will see and take advantage of opportunities to network, promote and brand their artwork. The artist who is engaged and ready to capitalize on opportunities when they come along will be or will eventually become successful.
6. Artists who are successful, along with their goals visualize themselves as achieving great things in their chosen profession. If the artist does experience (and they will) any roadblocks, problems or defeats, they continue visualizing and keep working towards their goals.
7. Successful artists do not quit when they hit a roadblock or problem. Most people in the face of adversity will quit, whereas a successful artist will see this is a chance to learn, grow or that the problem or setback is a simple delay in achieving their goals. Persistence is the difference between a successful artist and an artist who quits. The quitter simply lost their desire, focus and their original vision.
8. Successful artists see themselves as business people. They understand and embrace the fact that art is a competitive business and they realize that they will have to learn how to successfully operate their art as a business. They are also willing to acquire the skills and expertise to become successful.
Though you are a super creative person and you have chosen to be an artist these characteristics are not enough to be successful in today’s competitive art business. Through successful habits and traits, an artist can change their “Successful Art DNA” and overcome the usual operational and marketing problems which most artists experience.
In order to gain an edge over your art competitors and to keep your name and your art exposed to your target audience, I suggest that all artists apply to and get on as many artist registries’ as you can.
Just what is an artist registry and what can it do for an artist? An artist registry is an effective, low cost (in most cases “no cost”) tool that helps an artist to expose their artwork to art collectors, gallery owners/directors, art buyers and general art lovers.
Many large cities, states, and other art organizations offer and run artist registries. Think of an artist registry as a way for an art organization to expose and promote it’s registered artists to the world. In a way, the creators and administrators of the registry are acting as an advocate for their registered artists.
Besides listing the artist by name, in most cases, the artist is able to upload some of their art to their profile, provide a small biography and other pertinent information about the artist, their education and their experience in the art field.
One of the best features of being listed in an artist registry is that you will be able to create a backlink to your art website. Besides the exposure, this will help in your page ranking with Google. Google and the other large search engines base a certain percentage of their page ranking of your website on the amount and the quality of the backlinks that your website contains. Artist registries are a quality link and if you can get on as many of these as possible it will eventually help your page ranking when it comes to searching for your art.
How can you find artist registries? It is fairly simple. Go Google, Bing or Yahoo and type in the search feature “artist registry” or “art registry”. In order to locate registries for a certain location, use the above terms with a + sign and the location. For example, use the search term “artist registry + Chicago” or “art registry + Texas” and see what comes up, then research each site, as to whether or not it fits your needs.
In addition, try the search term “slide registry” too. It is an old fashion term for the same thing. Artists should take advantage of being registered and placed on artist registries, not only for their marketing exposure but for the backlinks that they create as well.