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!