Here are some tips that will help you optimize your chances of being selected in an art contest.
Art competitions are one of the opportunities that contemporary artists miss. However, these events can do much to advance a career in the arts. Their popularity and importance in the art world has steadily increased.
Today, they range from well-known international competitions, such as the Frieze Artist Award and the Agora Gallery Chelsea International Fine Art Competition, to smaller competitions, such as the Tallahassee International Juried Competition, and other regional and local competitions.
Competitions sometimes have a jury, sometimes they are judged, or they may have both a jury and a judge who makes the final decision. Generally, the jury and/or judge of a contest will select several finalists from hundreds or even thousands of entries.
Usually, the selected artists receive recognition, considerable awards and great opportunities to exhibit, promote and sell their work. Finalists gain visibility through promotion and publicity, and often receive financial rewards as well.
While we should always aim for success when entering an art contest, participating in an art contest is a good idea, even if you are not selected on your first attempt.
Art competitions are… well, competitions! But artists have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by trying. Here are some tips that will help you optimize your chances of being selected in an art contest.
When you’re looking for opportunities, look for one that fits in well with your work. Just to get an idea of what the event is like, it may be helpful to research some of its history. Find out who the judges and jurors were in the past, who the previously selected artists were. You should definitely know who will evaluate your application.
Judges and juries are usually art critics, prominent artists, curators and gallery owners. Their artwork, critical writings, the type of artists signed in their gallery, etc., will tell you what their artistic preferences are. If your own style fits what you see, the competition is likely to be right for you.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be an exact match, but if you’re a sensible artist, it doesn’t make much sense to enter a realistic portrait competition judged by figurative painters. Don’t change your style and interests to suit the tastes of the jury members, and don’t apply for competitions geared towards completely different styles and types of art.
Make sure the competition has a good reputation, even if it is relatively new. Scams are not unheard of in works of art. Watch out for exorbitant rates. It’s totally standard to pay a $20-$75 entry fee, but be careful with entries that cost several hundred dollars.
Take the application process very seriously
Once you have done your research and decided on a series of art competitions that interest you, you will be ready to go deeper into the application process. To present your best person to the selection committees, you must demonstrate not only artistic talent but also a high degree of professionalism.
To do this, start by reading the guidelines and instructions carefully and following them to the letter. The importance of this step cannot be underestimated: the vast majority of candidates are rejected simply because they do not follow the instructions.
For example, ask yourself if the selected images match the contest theme. This seems obvious, but artists often expect the power of their work to prevail over the needs of the event. It won’t. If the contest has a theme, stick to it.
Selection committees are usually interested in what artists are doing today, not what they were doing several years ago. Be your best curator: select your best recent work and make sure your selection is visually compelling, consistent and stands out.
Imagine how difficult it must be to sort through hundreds or even thousands of images to select just a few. Your task is to present the real you, the one whose work is extraordinary and different from the rest.
Because the images must present your art in the best possible way, they must be of the highest quality. This is so important that I would recommend that you invest in a professional photographer. Make sure the images are the right size, and list and label them correctly.
Your art statement is your opportunity to put your work into context and explain who you are as an artist. Writing an art statement is as difficult as it is important. Make sure it is up-to-date, compelling and error-free. Ask your friends and colleagues to read it and give you feedback before you include it in your application.
A series of photographic documentaries, featuring low-cost workers in Mexico and the Caravan of Central America, impressed not only the competition jury but also the Gallery Director, who selected portfolio to represent.
Postulate as if you’re just doing that and don’t give up
Don’t let rejection deter you and discourage you. Instead, accept it as part of the game. Getting selected in a contest is a little like winning the lottery. The number of applicants is usually immense. The chances of getting selected can be quite limited.
By the way, you can usually research exactly what these chances are for each contest. Juries and judges make their decisions based on a number of factors, some of which may include your mood that day, whether or not you have a headache, how good your lunch was, etc.
So if you don’t do it on your first try, don’t feel bad about your art. Instead, don’t take it personally and take the opportunity to hone your skills and keep applying. The more you apply, the better your chances are.
Just don’t forget to stick with the choices that make sense for you and your artwork. Persistence pays off and victory, when it’s finally yours, will be very sweet!
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