Artists are always looking to plump their resumes with juried exhibitions, but in order to to do so they must first sort through a growing list of prospective shows. More and more venues are hosting their own juried shows, usually to raise funds, gain recognition, and attract emerging talent. With resources like The Art Deadlines list and countless other publications, artists have easy access to these exhibition opportunities. Since most artists work on a restricted budget and competitions generally charge entry fees, artists must be selective in choosing which competitions to enter.
The first thing the artist should consider is the entrance fee. What does the fee cover? How much will it cost to enter the show, and how many works of art may the artist enter? A $20-35 entry fee will net about 3-5 submissions in most circumstances. Some of the more prestigious shows may approach the $50 mark; however, even unseasoned shows seem to be upping the costs these days. Bottom line: if the artist cannot rationalize the cost, then the artist should move on to other prospects.
Another thing to consider is the type of submission requested: slides or digital images. While slides used to be the old standby, more competitions are permitting digital submissions or even dismissing slides altogether. This is a positive evolution in the art show submission process, as digital images are cheaper and easier to take. Digital cameras permit endless picture retakes, and simple photo editing programs make for easy touch-ups. By contrast, taking quality slides can be a frustrating experience with no room for editing.
Next, the artist should consider the quality of the show itself. If the show has a distinguished history, that will bode well for its reputation among other artists, critics, and the local arts community. Many professional shows also put together booklets to catalogue the exhibit; these booklets provide a convenient record of the show for artists to have on hand. Shows with an established track record are also more likely to attract well-respected jurors. Most entry forms feature a brief biography detailing the juror’s credentials; if this is not the case, then a quick internet search should yield the pertinent info.
The artist should also investigate the facility hosting the art competition. If submitting an application long distance, artists can browse the host venue’s website. Is the website professional? Does the venue have a full schedule of exhibits? What are the venue’s other artistic affiliations? How an organization markets itself is a reflection of the force behind it. A thoughtfully constructed website with a good line-up of activities makes for a strong exhibition venue. If the show itself appears to be legitimate, the artist should check its location, particularly if works are for sale. A recognized show in an affluent area is always a promising combination. While that might be wishful thinking on the part of this artist, a little optimism never hurts.
Finally, suppose the artist submits work to a show and the outcome is positive – “Congratulations, your work has been accepted.” An otherwise celebratory moment can be hampered by a sudden and oft forgotten reality: the cumulative cost of the experience. Does the selected work of art need to be framed? Shipping costs to the venue are a given, but what about return postage – will that need to be included? Artists should maintain a budget for exhibitions just as they would for supplies; a simple spreadsheet documenting costs and the shows to which an artist applies is an easy solution. With the above criteria in mind, any artist can apply to juried exhibitions.