Every month Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery will receive entries that we simply cannot use due to the poor quality of the images submitted by the artist. Here are the top 5 art submission problems that we see every month. In this article, we will present these problems and issues, visually with example images, in a slideshow at the bottom of this post. Next to this paragraph is the post image of the Edward Hopper’s “The Long Leg” print as our example of how we (and I am sure every other serious art gallery or art organization) would like to receive any entries to our art competitions.
Below are the top 5 common presentation problems that we frequently receive:
1. Framed Images - We see images that are submitted to our gallery that are framed, crooked and not level. Submitted images such as this will not be accepted, as it detracts from our gallery presentations and shows.
On a wall, in many cases, framing will help to establish, highlight and enhance the appearance of any art. On a website, the exact opposite is true and any framing of art will detract and take away the appearance of the art. We simply will not present art in that manner and in our rules, as well as in and throughout our submission process this fact is stated several times and in different ways.
Our main focus and goal is to have a show which not only represents the best art which was submitted to the competition but also to have art that will show well to our gallery visitors. Any images which are framed, crooked and the image lines are not level, in our opinion, is an unacceptable entry to have in any of our online art shows.
2. Images Have Hot Spots - Any images that are submitted that have highlights or overexposed “hot spots” on the image will not be used as well. This condition is caused by using a flash camera directly in front of the painting that you are trying to reproduce.
Obviously, the best solution (though it is the most expensive) is to have the art professionally scanned. However, the next best thing to do is to have the art photographed in a natural outdoor, diffused light. See our article How to Photograph Your Art the Right Way. Any images of paintings or any photographs should always be color corrected, balanced and appear as natural as possible to the original.
3. Under Exposed Images - Artists, who submit underexposed images of their art, will result in not being selected for our art shows. Besides being difficult to see, evaluate and to judge, this type of presentation of an artist’s art will not be shown to anyone who visits our website.
4. Images With Digital Markings - Art which is submitted to us which contains any digital markings on the face of the image will not be used in our shows, no matter how good that we think that the art is. Any digital marks with dates and other Metadata simply detract, not only from the art and but also from the show’s overall appearance, presentation and will not be considered to be included.
5. Images with Watermarks - Any art which is submitted with watermarks will not be used by our art gallery. Watermarks do not allow us to judge the art completely, as a watermark takes away from our goal of having the most professional and best online art show that there is on the internet. This issue also holds true for any art which contains any large artist signatures or signs. If we like the art, and believe that is “show worthy” we will try to crop it out, but if not, it is just better to submit to us the purest form of your art that there is without any watermarks.
Many artists believe that by having watermarks or large signatures on their art that this will protect them from someone stealing their art on the internet. We believe that a 1000 pixel wide x 72 resolution image (that is what any of the art on our website gets resized to for our shows) when printed will produce a 720 pixel or 7.2” wide image of rather poor quality and an image that is not worth reproducing.
If as an artist, you are afraid that someone will steal your art and then you should take all of your art off the internet right now, as I guarantee, that eventually, someone will do this to you. It just the way the internet is! However, since we all need the internet, the best thing to do is to at least make the posted art of such quality, in order to not make it worthwhile for the thief to steal.
These are submission problems that we commonly see and these examples will cause us to reject someone’s particular art. There are articles on this website that can help you improve your presentations and there are also many free programs on the internet that you can download or use that will allow you to enhance your art when submitting for any art exhibitions and art shows.
A good reproduction of your art may mean the difference between getting into an important art gallery, art exhibition or for making a sale of your art. Therefore, it is well worth the time to take to learn how to improve your art presentations and art submissions and have them done the right way.
"How Not to Submit" Examples Below
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Every month Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery receives, processes, administers and judges hundreds of entries for our monthly themed art competitions. We would estimate that at least 35% of the entries received, are not being submitted properly or are showing the artist’s work in its best light. 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. Read the Rules Thoroughly Prior to Submitting Your Work
The organization that is conducting the art call has developed their competition rules in order to administer, process and judge the art in a thorough and systematic manner. They have very good reasons why they want the submitted artwork to be labeled, sized and named in a certain way. Try to understand exactly what they want and conform to their process.
2. Be Aware of the Competition’s Deadline
The group who is managing the competition has created a deadline for a purpose. Their advertising, collateral materials, and judge/juror schedules revolve around this timetable/deadline. It is absolutely unfair for an artist to expect the organization to change their schedule in order to help the artist with their scheduling issues. In addition, it is not fair to all of the other artists who got their submissions to the organization properly and on time.
3. Thoroughly Understand the Competition’s Theme & Media
Understand what the group wants from the artist. If it says 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 lots of 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. You can save yourself and the staff a lot of trouble, wasted time and effort by asking or having the theme and media questions clarified.
4. Label the Entries in Their Format, Not Yours
The group who is conducting the call for art wants the entries in a certain form for identifying, administering and for judging purposes. By not labeling your entries properly, your art may not be judged if it is lost or mishandled due to this issue.
5. Provide and Enter the Maximum Amount of Entries Allowed
If a competition is asking for 3 images, give them the 3 images. Many times we receive only 1 or 2 images when we are asking for 5 images. A judge would like to see that the artist has a consistent style and technique. Additional images will help the juror to evaluate your art more closely.
6. Provide a Biography If They Ask For It
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. 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 being withdrawn from the exhibition. Have several sized bios ready-made and available that will help in this purpose.
7. Follow the Organization’s Sizing Requirements
If the group is asking for certain size submissions in terms of pixels or inches 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 online. Follow the size, resolution and quality settings that they are asking for. The main reason for this is that they are trying 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.
8. Provide Good Quality Images Without Frames
There are many times that I have had to choose someone else’s art over another where the quality of the image/entry was poorly presented. I 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 or frame), the image is 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.
There is a reason why they call it a “competition” as you are competing with other artists for a limited amount of places in that organization’s exhibition. Make sure your art is being prepared and submitted according to the way in which that organization wants your art presented. Do not give them a reason to reject your art by either not following the rules or by not providing them with art that is not gallery worthy.