Juried Competitions: 10 Tips to Improve Your Odds

We recently held our 8th Celebrate The Healing Power of ART juried competition at www.ManhattanArts.com. As one of the jurors I realized an article like this would be helpful.

Here are 10 tips that should improve your odds. You may also want to read “44 Things to Know About Juried Competitions” that appears on my blog.

1. Carefully read and follow every instruction outlined in the prospectus. Failure to do this may result in immediate disqualification. Janice Sands, executive director of Pen and Brush, New York City, points out, “Work that does not meet basic requirements will not be hung. Wall-hung work must be ready for the hanging system of the gallery, and frames must be secure. Many galleries will not exhibit work even if it is juried in from images if it arrives in unsatisfactory condition.”

2. Submit your best work only. Your work may have less than one minute to make an impact. One New York gallery reported a major art critic took only two hours to view a few hundred entries. In another competition, the judge took less than an eight-hour day to view 1,000 entries.

3. For an online exhibition select images best suited for the Internet. Your JPEGs will serve as the exhibiting artwork. Find out what size the images will be on the website. For example, if you enter your artwork that is very dark or with dimensions of 8-inches-by-36-inches, consider how poorly it will appear after it is reduced.

4. Follow the instructions for the proper JPEG file size and format. Submit the correct resolution and pixel size. Don’t expect to receive any sympathy by saying, “Sorry, I am computer challenged, so I hope these are OK.”

5. Research the juror(s) and their affiliation and career history. If the juror is known for curating cutting-edge installation art shows and you create traditional still life, you would probably have a better chance submitting to a different show.

6. Submit work that best matches the theme. Ask if you can acquire the previous year’s catalogue. If online, surf the Internet to see which artists won last year. If for example, you entered Celebrate The Healing Power of ART, you would have read our mission statement. You would have seen examples of last year’s winners’ work.

7. Pay attention to details. If you use a different artist name than your legal name, specify that on your entry form and all materials. If the entry fee payment is made on PayPal, make sure you notify the organization that you paid using a different name.

8. Don’t be late. Sands emphasizes, “Deadlines are deadlines. If the prospectus/guidelines indicate entries must be received by a certain date, that means received, not postmarked.” She adds, “Deliver work on time. Don’t ask for exceptions to the delivery time.”

9. Be selective. Acquire the answers to such questions as: Do they use an “in-house” pre-selection process, or will the named jurors see all of the entries? How many awards and types of awards will be given? If there is a purchase award will it cover the value of your work? Must works be available for sale? What commission will the sponsor take in sales?

10. Proceed with caution. Find out if there are hanging fees, reception costs and other expenses. Prepare to research the organization and ask for references. If in doubt, check the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Attorney General’s Office and regional and national arts organizations. If the sponsor claims to be a foundation, research their name on The Foundation Center website.

Good luck!

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, is the author of several books and publications that can be found on Manhattan Arts International (www.ManhattanArts.com). She has curated/judged more than 50 exhibitions. She offers advice to artists in private consultations and on her blog at http://reneephillips.blogspot.com. She invites you to follow her on Twitter @reneephillipsny, and join her on www.Facebook.com/ReneePhillipsArtCoach and www.linkedin.com/in/reneephillipsartcoach.

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