How to Prepare for Juried Competitions

Juried competitions are wonderful opportunities to have your artwork exhibited in front of new audiences and win awards. As you know from reading Professional Artist‘s Calls to Artists, many juried competitions are judged from viewing digital entries. In this article you’ll find out how to make the most of your submission process. You may also want to read What To Avoid When You Enter Art Competitions.

Preparing Your Image Files
Failure to prepare your image files properly will result in an inferior entry and possible rejection. It’s best to understand the world of JPEGs, GIFs, pixels and image file resolution. If this is outside your comfort level, get help from someone who is experienced in using photo imaging software programs. There are many programs to choose from and plenty of information about how to use them on the internet. Each competition will vary in their image preferences and sizes. To find out how to change the sizes of your JPEGs, read How to Resize a JPEG.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Before creating the image file start with a high-quality photograph or scan of your artwork. Don’t settle for a substandard image that doesn’t accurately represent your artwork. Select those images that accurately capture the colors, tones and details of your artwork — the unique qualities that make your art superior.

Understanding the Juror’s Preferences

New Day, New Vibration, acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 48″ by Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone He won an Artist Showcase Award in the Manhattan Arts International “New Beginnings “exhibition.

New Day, New Vibration, by Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone. Acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 48″. Copyright © Ober-Rae Starr Livingstone. Used by permission of the artist.

As in all juried competitions, most jurors have the same basic criteria: art with outstanding merit that best suits their curatorial premise and theme. Before you submit your entries, I recommend you find out as much as you can about the jurors’ aesthetic preferences and the organization’s selections in previous exhibitions to make sure you’re the right match.

Inquire if the guest juror views all of the entries or only after a pre-selection process is done internally by the organization. As a juror and curator for Manhattan Arts International online exhibitions, I enjoy the process of viewing all entries. Like many other jurors I know, I look for artists who demonstrate superior skills in their chosen medium, a unique signature style and a cohesive vision with respect to the theme of the show. Before selecting the top award winners I visit the finalists’ websites to gain a more in-depth knowledge about them and their art.

Consider your entry as a possible opportunity to have your entire body of work — not only your entries — viewed by someone who may not otherwise know about you. Make sure your website is up-to-date before you enter. Even if your art isn’t selected for that specific exhibition, you may catch the interest of the juror for another art show or project they have in mind.

Choosing the Best Venue
Among the many different calls for artists, each one has its advantages. Check out the organization’s history and the juror’s credentials. Find out about the methods they use to judge, display and promote their exhibitions and the winning artists. Find out how many artists will be selected as the finalists. Determine if and how that venue will enhance your art career. Choose those opportunities that meet your requirements and share your level of professionalism.

I wish you tremendous success in entering juried competitions!

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their highest potential in consultations, coaching sessions and articles on As founder/director of Manhattan Arts International, she promotes artists through curated exhibitions. She is also founder of The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS. Join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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