Each month we receive emails from artists who thought that their art should have placed higher or received more recognition than what it actually did. They believe that there art is good and in most cases it is good art. The reason may have nothing to do with the quality of the art. The reason why it did not place higher may be one of the reasons explored below.
We estimate that at least 30 to 35% of the entries received, are not being submitted properly, thoroughly or are not showing the artist’s artwork in its best light. It is a shame, as there is some very good art that does not get in or placed higher into some exhibitions due to the manner by which the artist has submitted their art.
The following are some of the most common mistakes that we see each month. When entering any art contest, try to make sure that you are not making some of these common mistakes when entering juried art calls and juried art competitions:
1. Understand the Competition’s Theme & Allowed Media
Understand what the theme entails and be honest with yourself prior to submitting your entries. If the prospectus or rules state that the competition is for 2-dimensional art, do not submit your jewelry, sculpture or crafts. If it says no photography, do not expect the organization to provide to you an exception. There are numerous other venues and organizations who are conducting calls for your type of art.
If you have any questions or concerns about the theme or what is acceptable media, contact and discuss this with the organization’s event staff first, prior to submitting your art. You can save yourself a lot of trouble, wasted time, effort and money.
2. Apply Only to Competitions That Truly Fit Your Art
In their haste to submit, artists will sometimes miss what the organization is really after in terms of the theme or the parameters of the competition. For instance, an artist who submits their “Black and White” photography into a competition with a theme about “Bold or Bright Colors” will get rejected. I know there are people reading this who are saying “but black and white are colors too!” Yes, they are, but black and white are not in keeping with the spirit of the theme and within the scope of the show.
Many times the submitted artwork is fantastic, but again it is not what is asked for and the artist has wasted their time and money by placing their art into a competition that just is not suited for the media or for what they create.
3. Follow the Organization’s Sizing Requirements
If the competition is asking for certain size submissions in terms of pixels or inches and resolution, follow it. There is no excuse to not have the art sized properly as there are many free art editing programs that can be downloaded from or used online.
Follow the size, resolution and quality settings that this competition requires. The main reason for this is to standardize the judging process and if all of the entries are the same size (longest side of the image) and same resolution it will help the juror to make a better judgment and decision about your art.
Some art that we see entered has a very low resolution or pixel size and when this image is seen in an image viewer it is pixelated or fuzzy. When images that are small are resized to the image size that we require (1000 pixels width x 100 resolution) in many cases this will make the image unusable.
4. Provide Good Quality Images Without Frames
There are many times that we have had to choose someone else’s art over another where the quality of the image/entry was poorly presented. We see entries where the paintings have been reproduced (photographed or scanned) for presentation purposes and as submitted they are poorly cropped (where you see part of the mat, background or frame), the image may be too dark or is too light and overall the colors and contrast are out of balance.
The artist’s presentation to the gallery and the jurors should be as if they were trying to sell your art to them in person. You only get one chance to impress the juror and this is not the time to get sloppy with your art submission.
5. Provide a Biography No Matter What Your Experience
Many times we do not receive a biography with the artist’s submissions. Either the artist is too busy, is lazy or embarrassed to provide a biography. This brief amount of information could possibly help the artist in getting accepted into that show or in being placed higher. There have been times when a certain artist’s work has been accepted into the show, only to find out that they have not provided a biography. This will usually lead to the artwork not being placed as high as it should. You will notice that the top LST artists will have a biography. We suggest that you have several different sized bios ready-made and available that will help in this regard.
It takes courage for an artist to enter their work into art competitions, as they are potentially exposing their art to the possibility of rejection. Yet, it is through these competitions and being accepted into these shows that your art will be considered “serious”. Art shows and competitions are a necessary evil and it is something that all artists must go through.
In order to increase your chances of being accepted into an art competition or placing higher, follow these suggestions and Good luck! Please read our related post titled "Maybe it is Your Presentation and Not Your Art?"