Give Them What They Want. . . (Art Judges That Is)

By John R. Math in Art Business Advice > General Art Advice

One of the biggest reasons artists compete in art competitions to gain recognition for their art. And, while some competitions allow everyone to enter, the majority of them include a panel of judges who review all of the submissions and choose which artwork will be shown.

If you can impress the judges with your art, you’re in. If you can’t. . . you’re out. So it’s not a bad idea to give the judges what they want! Here are my 5 tips for doing just that:

1. Apply to competitions that truly fit to your art

It’s easy to miss what an organization is really after in terms of the theme, or the parameters of a competition. But usually if you dig a little, you can get a clear idea of which competitions you should (or should NOT) enter.

For instance, an artist who submits black and white photography into a competition themed around “bold or bright colors” will get rejected immediately. Black and white photos are not in keeping with the spirit of the theme and scope of that particular show—so for that artist, it would be a competition to skip, not enter.

Many times the artwork received by the judges is fantastic, but it’s not what the organization was looking for. When that happens, the artist simply wastes time and money by placing their art in an unsuitable competition.

2. Place your art within the proper category

All too often, artists do not match the art they are entering to the proper categories available for that show. I am not sure why this is, but it is important to be honest with yourself and (if you cannot be objective about it) get some help from a friend or mentor, to make sure you’ve got the best chance possible at succeeding in the competition.

3. Submit art that showcases your skills

The art that you enter should show a complete grasp and mastery of the particular media. To that end, even if you regularly create in several different styles and media, it’s best to choose just one media for all of your entries.

This demonstrates to the judge that you are able to create a cohesive body of work. Ideally, all of your entries should relate in terms of media, color and style—as well as being within the scope or the theme of that particular competition.

4. Provide the best quality images possible

Many times, judges will choose one piece of art over another because the quality of the image or entry was poor compared to the other.

If you are entering an image of a painting—for example, a photograph or high-resolution scan—you should avoid the following common mistakes:

• Poor cropping (where part of the mat, background or frame is visible)
• Image too dark or too light
• Colors and/or contrast out of balance

Your presentation to the gallery and the jurors should be of the same high quality you would use to sell your art to someone in person. You only get one chance to impress the judges, and a sloppy submission will destroy that chance every time.

5. Enter the maximum number of entries allowed

Whenever possible, submit as many entries as the competition allows, to increase the odds of getting your artwork noticed by the judges. Multiple entries will also help demonstrate the level of your talent, and your overall body of work.

If you are not getting into as many art exhibitions as you would like, it may not be about the quality of your art. . . it could easily be one of the other reasons stated above.

Work on these tips and suggestions, incorporate them into future submissions and your chances will improve dramatically for being accepted into your next juried art competition.

Remember. . . give the judges what they want!

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