Entering Art Shows

Entering Art Shows

with 6 Comments

I think exhibiting your artwork in group shows is a great way to promote yourself as an artist and to attract buyers. Many other artists think so too. And with so many people these days wanting to take their art hobby in a professional direction, the benefits of art shows are apparent.

But, warning — the probability is high that you’ll receive a good ego-beating at some point while entering art shows, so use caution!

A few helpful hints:
1. Enter what you consider to be your best work. (Have good reasoning behind this, don’t just enter your latest.)
2. Have a friend or two (whose opinion you respect) weigh in on the appeal of your chosen piece(s). Get their feedback.
3. Decide if a given show is worth entering. Does the show have a reputation of including quality artwork? How much is the entry fee? Who will be jurying the show and giving the awards? Will the show attract buyers?
4. Be prepared for acceptance and rejection.

Many artists first pursue local shows at libraries, restaurants or other shops. Your local art guild may also be a good venue. Inclusion in shows like these will give you some feedback on your work and help you decide whether to start entering nationally.

Once at the national level, you’ll find that the competition is steeper, prizes are better and chances are greater for attracting serious art collectors. But it’s important to remember that even national shows are subject to the opinions of jurors and judges. I’ve had my artwork rejected by many shows, and have even had a few paintings rejected by one show and awarded a prize in another.

The key is to keep at it. Ideally, you’ll someday look back to discover that your acceptances outweigh your rejections, that you’re pleased to have been part of some good shows and that you’re continually learning to be your own best critic.

And someday, you may find yourself blessed to ascend even higher and reach the radiant pinnacle: the invitational museum show. Sargent would be proud.

6 Responses

  1. Nancy Martin Piros
    | Reply

    So, very true Dan! I entered so, so, many rejections I decided to stop entering my oil paintings. I love them and that is all that matters to me.!!! Other artist need to have the acceptance of the judges and that is fine to for them. It is a good way to get yourself on the map to you are right.

  2. Miriam Ruberl
    | Reply

    Every word is true according to my experience, will put this up at the door of work room !!

  3. Candice
    | Reply

    A very wonderful observation you have made. I find that the online contest I enter I have a tendency to completely forget about, but the public one’s are definitely an ego burner if you are rejected, but hey, that’s part of being an artist right? It just builds tougher skin and will not stop me from entering the next one at all. Usually a few days after the contest I am back on my feet again ready to face the world.

  4. Kay Zetlmaier
    | Reply

    You hit it on the nail, Dan. As artists we become extremely vulnerable putting our art work out in the public eye. Our tender egos seem to ride the proverbial emotional roller coaster each time we enter a show. You are also right, the positives out-weigh the rejections…but it is so hard to remember this. Thanks for the great newsletter. See you soon at the portrait workshop.

  5. MIchael Smith
    | Reply

    I’ve found a lot of good shows and events want the work submitted on line. Become familiar with both the site, most use the same site, (I forgot the name), and the manner in which your images are presented there. The best artists are expert at submitting their work in the best possible light. Also, be objective about the juries. I have a good friend who is a Juror for the California Art Club Gold Medal Show. He has literally seen 50 thousand paintings of the High Sierras, “Crystal Cove” in Laguna at dusk, boats at the harbor, ladies making their toilet, portraits, still lifes, etc.. So make sure what you submit is unique. You’re not gonna’ impress them just because you did a good job. Also note the jurors at the best shows are expert. They instantly identify flaws in design, color, or brushwork. You will want input for possible flaws before entering a piece. And finally, be mindful of the venue. For example, in Santa Paula they have a yearly show in the Library. The larger pieces are generally hung on the wall on the right side of the room, which has somewhat dim lighting and the flow of the viewing traffic is further away than normal due to the tables and such. They also hang acrylic as well as oil in the same locations. So if your giving them a larger piece, you might want to consider a brightly colored acrylic for that location. It will stand out.

  6. Dan Schultz
    | Reply

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I appreciate you adding your insight to the discussion!

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