Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Renee Phillips "The Artrepreneur Coach": Juried Competitions: How to Improve Your Odds

After the Storm 24x30, acrylic on linen, copyright 2010, Jan Blencowe (I'm entering this in a juried show on Monday, wish me luck!)

Juried show season has begun in my neck of the woods which poses a problem for me every year. I often wonder, given that most artists have a sensitive nature that is easily bruised by rejection, why the arts are practically the only profession that relies so heavily on competitions as a way to establish yourself.

I was going to write a long post all about juried exhibits but then came across this excellent blog post :

Renee Phillips "The Artrepreneur Coach": Juried Competitions: How to Improve Your Odds

So I am happy to send you there to get all the specifics, which is great because what I really wanted to write about was not so much the mechanics of entering shows, though I would have shared that and now Renee has saved me the trouble, but rather the emotional agnst artists go through because of juried shows.

It's always wonderful when you get accepted into a show. Notice that word...accepted. We all love to feel accepted it makes us feel worthwhile and valued. But then consider the alternative, your work may be rejected, by the judge (whoever he or she may be). That word...rejected has an awful sting to it and more likely than not comes with a lot of old baggage from previous rejections of various kinds.

It is always a risk to put our work out there and allow (and in the case of juried shows) pay someone to make a judgement about it. Invariably, other works will get into the show that you know are inferior to your work and you will scratch your head in dismay as your stomach twists into a knot.

I always appreciate shows that use the word declined, rather than rejected, which just seems to have a gentler sound to it. I also appreciate shows that go to the trouble to inform you of how many works were entered and how many from that number were chosen, and supply a judges statement so you have a better understanding of what he/she was looking for. It's also very consolling to get a letter which affirms that many wonderful works were turned away due to space limitations etc.

My biggest pet peeve is artists who are accepted to shows and possibly win awards and gloat rather than adopt a humble stance and offer sincere encouraging words to their fellow artists who did not get in.

Juried shows have their benefits, exposure (though an artist can die of exposure!), quality shows and prestigeous awards can be great resume builders, and for those just beginning local shows and awards help you begin to build a resume.  Show acceptance and awards like gallery representation can give you credentials that make art collectors more comfortable investing in your work. The possibility of a sale is also usually part of the juried show experience. Attending the opening gives you a chance to network.

But I will tell you honestly, juried shows are hard on the nerves and can at times be devestating. Look before you leap and make sure you have one or two really supportive family members or friends in your corner to help ease the rejection or to drink champagne with if you get in and win!


Joan Cole said...

Jan, thanks for sharing Renee's point of view. Congatulations again on getting TWO of your pieces into the Madison show. I was disappointed my one entry was "declined." I console myself with the fact that although the juror may not have chosen it for the show, it has since been sold.

I'm looking forward to your workshop this weekend. Should I bring anything in particular aside from a notebook? ~Joan

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Joan, In my estimation a sale is much better than being in a show! Congratulations!

I actually talked this evening with David Dunlop the juror for the MAS show & he told me he's giving up judging shows because it so hard on him knowing how many artists he will be disappointing
,discouraging and possibly devestating by not selecting their work for shows. He said it was really hard on him emotionally.

So it seems juried shows are difficult for everyone artists and judges alike.

Oh just bring a pen on Friday and 2 or 3 paintings on Saturday.

njart73 said...

Hi Jan,
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your taking the time & effort in sharing your work. I am a landscape/abstract painter who works with acrylics as my primary medium & subscribes to The Poetic Landscape. I find your daily postings to be educational & inspirational.
I was last accepted into a juried show back in 2005. Since 2005 I have not entered all that many juried shows. My last one person exhibition at a local museum was back in late 2003 . My resume will show two one person exhibitions at this local museum, {1998 & 2003} and two grants for those exhibitions. Some of the paintings from the 1998 exhibition are in the museum's collection. I do have four other one person exhibitions all local but those of course are in the past. I would like to think that a gallery would refer to the quality of the work and how you present yourself. My next one person exhibition will be at that same local museum next fall. I consider this to be a reboot since at that time it will 8 years since the last one. While I have been painting during the last five years production has been slow and I am now just starting to get back on track. I wonder if this slow period will be counted against me when I decide to seek gallery representation at some future date? I am reminded that in the business world it is what you do today that counts-yesterday is old news. I wonder is it the same for the art world?
Recently I was rejected by two juried shows. My paintings looked better in person than on a computer monitor. I had a friend shoot the work and they were clear and close to color correct. The second rejection was from a national organization that was left an estate. This helped to greatly increase the prize money making it very difficult to be accepted since the number of paintings entered has most likely increased ten fold. So even though I submitted a really good painting I was not all that surprised or upset at the rejection. The fees were $50.00 total for the two shows but I needed to do something to get moving.
Two questions- are juried shows unless they are a very well known organization such as ASW really necessary? My second question-does it help build up the resume to enter the same juried show every few years or does that become redundant? My plan was to try and go for at least one name show per year. I do not have the funds to go digital and the costs of fees, framing and shipping is becoming steep. This will not always be the case-someday I will be able to afford a digital camera but until that time my options are limited aren't they?

AutumnLeaves said...

Well spoken words, Jan. I recently read a blogger's words and she showed a painting she did that was juried into a show. I was confounded, truly. Of course, I couldn't or wouldn't say that to her but I was indeed proud of her for even applying with the piece. I think it boils down to taste. I applied for and was not accepted into the Bachelor in Fine Arts program at a state college (based on submission of a portfolio). I was devastated as isn't that the reason you apply to schools? So you can learn to do better? And I didn't think my stuff was that bad! Now I know better. Entering a show is not something I would dare to do after that!

A.Decker said...

I can't even think about stuff that costs money these days, but I do really like that painting, and would not hesitate to submit it, if I were you.
I always like linear perspective leading in, and love the muted light and atmosphere. I feel the wet sand 'tween my toes!