"Would you rather make a bad painting and know why it was bad or make a good painting and not know why it was good?" Edgar Whitney

Entering Juried Shows
© 1998 Nita Leland

Let's start by looking at some of the pros and cons of entering juried art shows. Pro: Being accepted in juried shows gets your work out there and marks you as a serious artist. Occasionally galleries and publishers cruise shows for new artists. Sometimes paintings sell and often the prize money is worth the considerable cost and effort to submit and ship accepted artwork. A list of show acceptances looks good on your resume, too. Con: You forfeit your entry fee if you're rejected and few shows provide feedback to rejected artists. If you get accepted, you may have to pay hanging fees in addition to crating and shipping costs, plus handling fees if the show uses a handler. You will probably come up short even if you win a prize or sell your painting. Instead of being a wise business move, this might turn out to be a vanity thing, or even worse, a scam where the show promoters take off with your money and/or art. Check out the show to make sure it's on the level. Read Art Calendar magazine to stay current on art scams.

Always request a prospectus from the sponsoring group (send a self-addressed stamped envelope). Follow the rules to the letter. Submit quality professional slides that show only the image--no mat, no frame, no fingers and no fireplace. Mark slides exactly as specified and protect in plastic slide sleeves. Include all required materials, marked "Do Not Bend," and be sure you beat the deadline by several days. Send only your best original work. Be consistent--don't send different styles to show your versatility. This is frequently the mark of an immature artist or someone who is unduly influenced by workshops.

Don't try to second guess the judge--your work may be screened by a committee first anyway. Keep track of your submissions and avoid entering the same painting to two shows at the same time. Sponsors take a dim view of being told the painting selected for their show is going to another. Keep a record of when a painting will be returned so you can be watching for it.

If you get rejected, and you believe in your painting, send it out to another show. Today's Reject may be tomorrow's Best of Show. It happens all the time.

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