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Suggestions For Entering Juried Shows

by Gary John Gresl

Having just assisted in preparing and organizing materials from over 1000 artists for the exhibits Wisconsin Artists Biennial 2001, 03, 05 and 07, I humbly offer some advice to those of you who might be interested.

First, I do not here present advice about the quality of your work, the medium, the subject matter, etc. You, the creator, must decide completely by yourself what your work is meant to express and how you express it. And, when you chose the art objects to enter into any juried show, you should chose what you think is the best work available. If the exhibit is important enough to enter, it is important to offer your finest to the jurors.

Now...here are some observations and practical advice.

  1. No matter if the jurying is thru presenting the actual work, or thru a slide selection process, READ DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY! (Duhh!) If you have dyslexia, vision problems, or are in doubt, have someone else review the directions and check over your presentation materials for accuracy.

  2. If there is a prospectus (the printed material usually providing the directions) with application forms and other relevant information, DO A CHECK LIST, and check off each part, each requirement, each element to be included.

IF BY SLIDES OR DIGITAL:

  1. How many images are required and permitted?

  2. Is there more than one image with identical views asked for? This can be the case when there are multiple jurors reviewing images and the slides or CD's must be mailed to them.

  3. How many different views of the same object are permitted? Usually one view is allowed of 2D work, and often 2 views of 3D.

  4. Are the actual slides thin enough to fit a carousel projector tray?

  5. Have you applied labels or tape that will gum up a heated tray and possibly thicken the width of the slide? Avoid labels. Write directly on the slide with permanent thin marker when possible. When using editing tape to crop images, apply it sparingly, in one layer, and make sure it is tightly laid down. Also, because CD's are relatively inexpensive, don't hesitate to write the information necessary directly on them with permanent marker. Don't use tape or labels unless asked for or absolutely necessary.

  6. Is your image marked with required information, e.g., title, size, medium, artist name, orientation? While your slides and disks should have some protection when being mailed, don’t over pack in difficult to remove devices. Usually the plastic slide pages purchased at photographic supply shops will suffice, and these can be cut down to appropriate smaller size. Padded small envelopes can be used for mailing disks.

  7. Avoid taping your slides directly down to any surface. The transparent or masking tape can tear cardboard slide surfaces and remain on the slide causing problems in handling and viewing.

QUALITY OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN SLIDES AND DIGITAL:

  1. Does the image reproduce the art to best advantage?

  2. Is the color of the image altered due to improper lighting or software technique? Is there any tinting due to the wrong film under incandescent or florescent bulbs? Reflections on glass or surfaces? Too dim? Shadows?

  3. Don’t include in the photo any extraneous materials or objects. E.G. no frames unless important to the entire expression; no labels or tags; no disturbing backgrounds (always photograph against a nonobtrusive and neutral surface); no hands holding paintings; no leaning against trees; photograph direct on whenever possible. If multiple views are permitted, use this opportunity to provide The strongest views, but don’t confuse the observer with odd angles. If you are tentative about your own ability to photograph the art to its best advantage, persuade a friend or hire an experienced photographer. If you are willing to invest time and money in the production of your art, you should be willing to invest the same for its best presentation and promotion.

  4. Over the past few years many, if not most, exhibits juried by images have been going entirely digital, either with entry by CD's or DVD's, and some by emailed digital images. This has proven to be an easier method for both the artist and host once the artist has learned the procedures. It is not so difficult. If necessary there are photographers, fellow artists, family members who can assist.

READ ALL DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY. (Duhh! Again.)

  1. Look at the deadlines for entry. This is crucial.

  2. Look at number of entries allowed.

  3. Fill out all labels, blanks, return materials.

  4. Is there an SASE required? (Self addressed and stamped envelope, and do you have the proper amount of postage affixed?

  5. Have you met the size, weight and any framing restrictions?

  6. Keep a copy of what you have sent, or copy the material down where you can easily find it. You may need to know addresses, drop off and pick up dates, phone numbers, directions, etc.

  7. Is payment required? Have you included a check in the correct amount? Also note, even if your work is not included in the show, the entry fees are almost always “not” refundable. Your fee is going to go toward production of the exhibit, thereby assisting others.

  8. Are there special instructions that must be met due to the handling, moving and display of the items?

  9. Must you include packing materials or other photographs of the work for catalog or promotional purposes?

  10. Don’t include in your entries any extra materials not asked for. This material will not help in any way.

  11. If you have any questions about the exhibit, the entry materials, procedures, etc., contact the exhibit hair/coordinator, or exhibit venue before sending in your entry forms.

When entering the actual work to a juried venue, much of the previous information will apply, but there are some other considerations as well. Make sure you have the time and location down pat. If necessary, get directions before you attempt to deliver the work.

  1. Is the work protected sufficiently, and is the protection easily removed after delivery? Don’t burden the personnel with
    unnecessary packing material.

  2. Will you be required to move or install any work requiring special handling?

  3. Make sure you receive information about retrieving work that is not to be included, as well as the dates and times to pick up work at the end of the exhibition.

  4. The persons attending to the incoming work are usually not the same persons that will be judging the work, but they are there to assist you and the hosting venue. They may be under pressures of their own on a busy day, so be cognizant of their needs to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

  5. If you must return to the site to pick up work that is juried out, remember that we all suffer this seeming indignity, and no good will come of showing anger or emotions. In all likelihood, the persons assisting in the return of rejected works feel badly too, have sympathy, and otherwise have had no say in the selection of art.

Being juried out of shows is commonplace. The same works might get into one show and be eliminated from another. Purpose and tenacity, strength of belief and faith in your work are important characteristics. If no success is found entering juried exhibits, you must find some other way to get the work out to the public. There are other ways to gain exposure and success.

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