Every once in a while we will have an artist ask us to explain the judging criteria that we use for our art competitions. I will try to explain here what we are looking for when we judge an artist’s submissions for one of our online themed art competitions.

First, let me say that our ultimate objective is to have an “entertaining” and interesting art exhibition for our viewers. The exhibition will be based on a theme and the art that is selected and shown will be representative of that particular theme. Within that competition’s theme, of those artworks selected, we try to show the best of as many different genres and varied media as possible.

There are times, based on the theme, the number of entries received and the quality of the response to the “call for art” that we can or cannot show a variety of artistic forms. Otherwise, we try to display a broad representation of artistic form, style, and media in the hope that this will provide the viewer an enjoyable experience.

Based on the artwork submitted to our competitions, they will be judged based on the following elements of artistic expression:

1. Interpretation and the clarity of the theme to the viewer.

2. Creativity and originality of the depicted theme.

3. Quality of artistic composition and overall design based on the theme.

4. Overall impression of the art. What is the effect of the artwork in general and as a whole? Overall, does the artwork stand on its own as a complete and outstanding work of art?

Here are some reasons for not being selected for one of our exhibitions;

1. Poor color or image quality. Sometimes we receive what we believe is an exceptional piece of art, but it is obvious to us that the colors are not balanced, are washed out and are not representative of the original colors of the art. These images will be passed over quickly as they will not show well on the site and the artist should remember that we are trying to put on a good show for the viewers.

2. Sloppiness. We will not take images that are framed, are crooked, show backgrounds, watermarks or large and over-sized artist signatures. Yet, knowing this information, we still receive images with these issues. Even though the art is exceptional, we do not consider them for the exhibition and they are quickly rejected.

3. Incomplete or poorly written submission materials. If we receive submission forms that are incomplete, poorly written or need to updated or summarized, generally these submissions will not be used as well. We have roughly 48 hours from the deadline, to judging and then uploading and making the exhibition live. We really do not have any time to waste chasing down artists for additional detailed information and this is another reason to have your art rejected.

I cannot say that our judging criteria and our additional reasons for rejections are normal, reasonable or universally acceptable in the art world. But these are our gallery submission rules and I honestly believe that if an artist were to follow these suggestions for any art competition, they would help themselves and would get into more art exhibitions.

When entering art competitions, read and reread the theme, rules and judging criteria closely and thoroughly. If the artist cannot honestly meet the competition rules and judging criteria, they should not waste their entry fees until they can conform to that competition’s governing conditions.

Think Like an Art Judge When Entering Art ContestIt is very difficult for most artists when entering an art competition to evaluate their entries objectively. Questions which come to mind are; will my art measure-up to everyone else’s? Is my style of art what they are looking for? Is my work good enough to be accepted? What are my reasons for entering this competition? Am I entering this art competition for validation, exposure or for the prize money? These questions can stress an artist to the point of paralysis!

In order to proceed further, the artist needs to make a determination as to their exact purpose for and their objective in entering this art competition. Does it meet the artist’s needs?

Is this a judged event or is this a juried event? Is this a local, regional or international event? Is there a theme or subject? What type of art organization is conducting this event? These questions should be answered prior to entering any art competition.

Let’s review these points in more detail in order to help the artist determine whether this is the right competition to enter or not;

  • A judged art event means that the art which is selected will be evaluated and ranked for recognition against the other art which was submitted. Many local, small or regional art events are handled in this manner.
  • In a juried art event, a panel or group of judges will determine whether the art submitted is to be included in the event or not. This type of selection process is used for larger art competitions. The show created by a juried event is subject to a variety of influences: the artistic tastes of the jurors, the politics of the local and larger art world, relationships with the sponsoring parties. The results may or may not produce a high-level show.
  • A non-juried show is one that will include all entries submitted. These are usually conducted by art membership organizations, artist registries, and invitational art events. These are a great way for new artists to begin but they will not carry as much weight on a resume as a judged or a juried event.
  • Some art shows combine the judged and juried art processes. The art is juried as to whether it is to be included in the event and thereafter the selected art will be judged.
  • Different types of judges will evaluate art differently. For instance, judges who look at and evaluate art all day often respond to new and unusual art. They look for and respond to the “Wow Factor”.

Art collectors, art consultants and art buyers who are judges will usually be more conservative and “safe” in their evaluations and selections, as this is how they buy and collect art.

A judge, who is also an artist, will be more critical of any art that is within their specialty or in the media which they also employ. The rationale for this is that they will not select art in their genre/style that is not as good as their own art.

Many times we see artists who research the competition's judges in order to match their style of art with that of the judge’s. This can backfire on an artist, as that judge will be more critical and subjective about that art than another judge with a different artistic genre/style.

To me, the following are the most important determining factors for getting into an art show or art exhibition;

  • Follow the Competition Rules and Prospectus Exactly.
  • Submit Art Only Within the Subject or Theme of the Event.
  • Provide the Best Quality Images Possible.
  • Enter the Maximum Amount Entries Allowed.

No matter what we like to think, the judging process will come down to a subjective decision by the judge. If your art is not selected, it really does not mean much. The next time you enter that same art into another art competition, with another judge, the results may be totally different for you.

After the selections have been made, whether your art is in or out, review the entries that were selected and objectively evaluate that art against your own. This may help you with the direction of your art for the future.

Do not ever give up entering more art competitions. Be smart about it, do some research and remember to think like a judge in order be more successful when entering future art competitions.


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