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Entering Competitions

by Sue Martin on 3/4/2011 10:18:54 AM

This post is by guest author, Sue Martin. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.  We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 13,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



I have the opportunity to enter three juried shows in the next few weeks and I'm weighing the pros and cons of doing so. To begin with, it's a lot of work. After looking through my inventory in my gallery, the walls of my house, and propped up around the floor, I'm not feeling confident about entering any of my existing paintings. That means painting, painting, painting to come up with something new.


I'm not saying creating new paintings worth entering in shows is a bad thing. It's good to have goals and deadlines. 


Also, there's the fear of rejection. What if jurors don't like my work? Every juror is different; what one doesn't like, the next may love. Though I'd like to think I've learned something from all the shows I've entered, from both the rejections and acceptances, I'm still mystified about why some paintings make the cut and some don't. But you don't get accepted if you don't enter. Over time, my ego has lost its fragility.


Then, there's the cost. Entry fees are typically $10 - $15 per painting. The cost of entering all three shows could easily mount to $100 or more. Add to that the cost of matting and framing work that is selected for exhibition. That's just the cost of doing business, I tell myself. Because exhibits are a form of marketing, I place entry fees in the "advertising" line in my business ledger. These particular show opportunities are local, so I will not have the hefty added expense of shipping if my work is selected.


So far, I've countered every con my brain has thrown in the way. But how about the "pros"? These are the benefits I've experienced in the past:


1.  Reputation - To have work selected in a highly competitive exhibition is an honor that looks great on the resume. Repeated acceptance leads, in some cases, to "signature" membership in art societies and the ability to add some initials behind your signature on your paintings.


2. Name recognition - The more you get your work before the public, and an increasingly broader public, the more you are building your "brand," which is the recognition of your name and your work. The first time I introduced myself to a stranger who said, "Oh, 'Sue Martin' the artist?" I was thrilled. She had seen my work in a statewide exhibition and remembered it.


3. Prize money - Though entering for possible prize money is as risky as playing the slots at Las Vegas, there's still a chance of winning some cash or art supplies. It's just a nice benefit if it happens.


4.  Sales - I make more sales in my gallery than I have in competitive shows, so this is not at the top of my list of benefits. Nevertheless, the potential for a sale, either at the show or later, is always part of my motivation for getting my art "out there;" out of my house, in front of art collectors, in as many different venues as possible.


So, guess how I spent my Presidents' Day weekend? That's right; painting, painting, painting, down to the wire, to get my entries ready for upcoming competitive shows.


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Michael Cardosa
Hi Sue,

Sounds like you had a busy weekend. Hope you made it into the shows! Good luck if they are still being judged! This is the route I've decided on for myself this year. I want to try to get into one or two shows that draw both big numbers of artists as well as some very well known ones. Tried a couple last year but knew I wasn't ready but hoping this year might be different. I'm just thinking of using them as a stepping stone to qualify for a few clubs as well as a little local branding.

If I give it my best shot maybe it will happen but if not, maybe next year!


Virginia Giordano
Good post, keeps me thinking about applying to shows. The past 2 years I applied with a good acceptance rate and got into about 6 shows each year. The cost of entering and shipping adds up though as you point out. This year I decided not to focus on small shows, and maybe apply only to local, or a couple of prestigious shows only. That decision now has me second guessing, what if my resume winds up with no show credits this year? But, I'm going to try to stay with that idea and I can see already that I am devoting more time to painting and less to applications, packing, shipping etc. And each year our process and what we do and learn is different - and that is ok!

You've articulated well what we've all wrestled with. There are a lot of factors to weigh in entering competitions, and not all competitions are the same. The costs are definitely a significant factor for many of us. I started a blog series on my website called 'Critical thinking about juried competitions,' which addresses a number of additional considerations.
I found that it works better if I choose something I've already done rather than trying to do something under deadline for a specific competition. Good luck with whatever you decide, and

...and I accidently hit the submit button before I could finish: and let us know how it goes!

Sharon Weaver
You did not mention one of the reasons I enter local show. I like to support the local clubs and art scene. If we don't support them it is possible some of these shows could disappear and diminish the presence of art in the area.

Susan Blackwood
Good Article, Sue. Here is one more definite plus for entering competitions. They automatically encourage all of us to strive higher and to reach outside of our comfort zones. My greatest growth has happened when I paint for shows.

Lorrie Beck
Sue, this was truly a timely article as I juggle with several prospectus' and try to decide whether or not to enter. My own solution is to enter shows that cater more to my type of work; I don't bother with "any medium, any style" as those seem to lean more to the contemporty, of which my work is not. I also go for shows that are annual and seem to have a good track record in terms of advertising, attendance, etc. As for getting rejected, yes, it is very disheartening, but you'll never get in a show if you don't try! Best of luck with your current entries!!!

Faye Creel
Thanks Sue for a wonderful article on competitions.

This month I received my first major rejections as the artist and it was most likely based upon my photography.

I was doing photography long before painting and was rejected on two major competitions in 2011. Since I was successful for both of these competitions in 2009 and 2010. I feel that my painting and photography will be taken with a more critical eye in the future. Now I will consecrate on my art shows for 2011.

The rejections has caused me to set new goals for 2012 and not wait until the deadline to do my photography. Painting, competitions, comments and sales are part of the life of the artist. I think the creation of artworks is wonderful.

Carol Schmauder
You brought up some very good reasons for entering juried shows, Sue. I have never had a sale as a result of a juried show or competition, but I think it has been worth the money and time. It has certainly helped with reputation here at the local level.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Sue....thank you for writing this article. IT is such a help and encouragement. I love this subject. We can learn from it.

AND I agree with Susan Blackwood that it gets us truly evolving with our work...striving to get that best work done.

Funny thing, I JUST fed-ex'd two paintings this morning that had been accepted in a national competition ....and have another one to ship yet.

I said to the person at the place I mailed them from....
"Whew, this costs money to ship, plus entry fees, cost of the box for shipping, framing and what have you. But, at the same time, it is an honor to have work accepted into a national art show and well worth it because it makes you keep striving to do your best work and it looks good on a resume."

Then I got home here and saw your article. Wow!! I LOVE all the sharing and input from the artists.

AND Sharon is so right too....we must support the art associations or organizations that hold these shows. THEY too are interested in work of the highest quality we are capable of each doing. They give us another reason to try harder to do our best.

Thank you again Sue and everyone for their comments.

Well I wish I could enter shows, but at $35 per entry for most, it is too expensive and also I am noticing that many shows will not let you send art by UPS or mail anymore. I was thinking of entering one in my own state, but cannot travel 90 miles to do so!

Bonnie Samuel
Shows are good marketing and a tool in building one's brand. Lots of work in prep and set up too. But enjoyable and beneficial once the patrons start roaming through the show. It's the cons that make you groan. Wisely chosen shows, your good art well displayed and interaction with visitors to your booth pays off.

Jim Oberst
Lots of food for thought. I struggle with the same issues, though I have sold juried show paintings and have won some prize money. But I have never tried to paint especially for shows. What I do is set aside the particularly good "accident" (I paint in watercolor) for upcoming shows. I've avoided entering shows at a distance, due to the expense - especially if juried in! - but I think I'll start doing that soon.

Sandy Askey-Adams

I was unaware of shows that would not let you send work by UPS or mail........I have always sent mine by Fed-ex.

Marian Fortunati
It's so good to "hear" someone voice all of the stuff that goes through my head each time I'm trying to decide whether to enter juried shows or not. I guess we all do it, but it's nice to really see it in writing ... makes me realize we're all in the same boat.
I will say that out here your $10-$15 per painting is a bit lower than what I've experienced but when you say you mark it up to marketing... I think that's the right attitude.
I've been juried into show I thought would NEVER sell anything and have been happily surprised. (and the opposite of course) so you never know.
At the very least, it does perhaps extend your name recognition a bit.

I have passed up quite a few opportunities though lately, because I realized that I rarely do my best work when I'm painting just FOR a show.

Good luck to you and thanks for a confirming post!

George De Chiara
I've enjoyed entering juried shows for the last few years, but have started to cut back a little last year. The cost is just getting out of hand. Some of the entry costs for shows around here have gone up $5-10 per year for the last 3 years. One of the shows I normally enter is up to $45 with a little over $4000 in prizes. To me that just doesn't seem worth it.

Sue Martin
Thanks for all the great comments; you've confirmed we do indeed go through a similar thought process about entering - or not. I have just a few comments on some of your specific comments: On "local" vs. "big" shows - I suggest we think strategically. Until you've been accepted in some local/state competitions, it might not make sense to spend the money on national show entries, plus shipping costs. But there will be a time when entering regional and national shows is your next level of challenge. Also, if you aspire to get your work into galleries outside your state, or into national magazines, then acceptance into national shows will help you reach those goals.

I totally agree with the comment about supporting local art groups. Our entry fees fund awards. The shows raise the profile of the group in the community. And, as mentioned, it helps educate the public about art. I would add that when you do get into a local/state club show, be sure to help with the buzz. Send your friends, family, and collectors there. Sales by the host gallery (if that's the type venue) will encourage them to invite the group back again.

And, for those of you mentioned the possibility of rejection, just remember that jurors are somewhat subjective; they select the paintings that speak to them. Another juror may view your painting differently. So don't hesitate to re-enter rejected paintings!

I'd like to get one more painting done for Tuesday's deadline...gotta go paint!

Donna Robillard
I really enjoyed reading this. I tend to submit entries 2-4 times per year. Yes, some have gotten accepted and some not; but that's okay. It's fun just to see if a painting will get accepted; and I, also, know it's subjective - depending how the juror looks at it. I've won some prizes, but haven't sold anything yet that way - but maybe this year will be the first! Keep doing your best art!

Margie Guyot
I've decided to QUIT entering the big national shows. Entry fees are out of sight: $50 and more. If accepted, you need to have a very nice frame. And shipping is expensive. Will you need to buy/build a crate? Of course you will need to pre-pay the return shipping. Sometimes you must pay an "uncrating fee", in the neighborhood of $150 or more. The last big show I participated in, they LOST my prepaid return shipping label. So that was a hassle to get a new one reprinted and sent. If your painting sells at one of these shows, you must pay 50 percent to the gallery and another 10 percent to the sponsoring organization. After all your other expenses, are you really making any profit? And why should we try to paint something to fit into somebody else's idea of "what is good". Some of these show catalogs look exactly the same from year to year: the same-old, predictable portraits and still lifes, all looking like they were painted by one certain artist they've decided is "the master". Hell -- life is too short! Follow your OWN dream. Stop chasing around, trying to please others! In 10 years of entering, I've only gotten into shows maybe 4 or 5 times. I've never won any prize money or been offered a gallery show at any of these big, national shows. And do galleries sell resumes? I've never heard of a resume selling. No, I've decided to stop wasting my money on big, national shows and just focus on doing my own art, in my own style, and showing in local galleries. I'll give THEM my best.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Margie:

I looked at your Blog. You paintings of the cupcakes made me hungry for a cupcake. Seriously. Well done. It got my stomach stirring...and that is what art is all about. To TOUCH the soul, mood and feelings of another.

Well, WOW, I read what you had to say about entering the national art shows and ALL the costs of doing so. I appreciate your viewpoint and honesty. OF course, some of what you say is true depending upon the national show. But, not all shows can be lumped into one mold.

AS far as shipping goes, In shipping, one can purchase a Strongbox..and I know that too costs money, but they usually will give a discount for some of these art shows. The boxes were designed by Fed Ex (I was told)...and are recommended and well made for shipping art works. It is usually better than building one's own crate.

AND, you are right...Why should we paint something to FIT into someone else's criteria? Yes, I too have seen selected works in catalogues that seem to be the same year after year all looking predictable and like they were painted by the same artist. Gets a bit boring after awhile...and looks political.

BUT, NOT ALWAYS. To be fair, it is Not always like that. Again it depends upon the art show and their intent to not do that predictable year after year "Same old Thing."

Yes, you are absolutely right with a great reminder........Life is too short to be chasing around after what someone else thinks we should be doing and trying to please the Art gods. I totally agree with you.

We must be true to ourself and not paint what we think the judge will like. Unfortunately, there are many who do just that. Can you blame them? Any artist wants and strives for recognition. They too may be trying to fight the system in their way feeling that the system is against them if they paint who they are and what they have to say. They are trying to further their careers....But, unfortunately, are indeed trying to please the judges.

Some judges prefer loser (plein air like) paintings and if an artist paints using more detail, they are not as acceptable in their opinion.
Then other judges prefer to see the painstaking detail that an artist goes thru and not just the swish of a brush stroke.
Some judges prefer Oils over other mediums and in that case, you will find an over-abundance of selected oil paintings. A pity.

Judges should not be narrow-minded or bias about certain styles, mediums or ways of painting, or even the names of artists, but some are just that. AND some judges are not qualified to even be judging. When politics are involved, we are also quick to notice, and we can ignore those kind of shows by not entering or supporting them.

We each have to figure out what show is best for us.
But, above all, these shows can and do inspire us to reach out toward our highest goals. They are important for that reason alone. I find when seeing other artists excellent and outstanding high quality works in a well ran art show it tends to inspire me to do better work.

When I was an art major in High School, one of the things the art teacher said to the class was.... "Remember, you are not in competition with others, you are in competition with only yourself and your last drawing or painting you did."
Some of these shows do seem to go against that motto.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello everyone...

Since cost of shipping has also been mentioned in this post about entering competitions and having to ship accepted works...I thought I would share the following with you for two paintings I shipped yesterday...and there is a third painting waiting yet to be shipped. (Have to do the proper framing yet for it.)

FIRST: I ordered three Lined Strongboxes from Airfloat Systems, Inc. according to the sizes of the paintings to be shipped. I had the boxes within a couple of days.

2 box same sizes were 31 x 36 long.
1 box was sized 35 x 42 long. (the larger one)

COST: 31 x 36 each box 66.40 .. 132.80
35 x 42 85.60 .. 85.60

Invoice sub total 218.40
Freight Charges 47.58

Invoice total 265.98

AND there was supposedly a discount.
Yes, I charged it..and it will need to be paid yet.

Airfloat Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 1476
110 Second Street
Verona, MS 38879

O.K. now onto the next what did I have to pay to have two of those paintings, which were the two smaller paintings, shipped yesterday?

After my husband and I placed them in the boxes following directions...and BTW, they are museum glass covered. (I know I will have comments about the glass and why didn't I use acrylic glass.) I did put the covering that lays on top of the glass that Airfloat systems sells also.

To send the two same sized boxed paintings, it cost me a total of $71.39. Shipped by Fed Ex. The insurance included covers up to ONLY $1,000. Those two paintings cost more than $1,600 each. There is nothing I can do about the insurance coverage. That is the way it is. UPS covers even less.
They were sent with a prayer...and hopes that they arrive at their destination safely. Red Fragile stickers on the boxes. All I can do.

I still have the third paintng to get ready and send. So cannot tell you the cost of shipping for that one yet.

Yep, it is costly. I will write it as a tax deducation, but we still to not get the actual money back in our hands.


Casey Craig
Good post Sue, you give a nice overview of pros and cons.

I have scaled back on entering shows and only enter them if they are fairly prestigious or in a venue that I am interested in, but if you are just starting out I think the advice to start local and go from there is excellent. I would caution against creating specifically for a show, paint what you love and it comes through.

A few suggestions about juried shows that may be of help.

Research the juror - if their aesthetic is completely different you probably won't be selected.

Make sure the venue offers insurance while your work is in their possession.

Find out what you will gain by acceptance. Printed catalog? Work on website? Work in national magazine?

Last month I had my work featured as the cover of a magazine because they saw it on the website of a juried competition that I entered 2 years ago. So sometimes these shows can have a long shelf life.

Also last year one of my paintings was a finalist in Artist's Magazine. Did it change my life? No, but it's a step towards name recognition and building a career.

Finally, promote your successes. Send out a postcard with your selected painting on it. Post it on your social media and e-newsletters. Sometimes it's not the show that gives us the break, but the promotion we put behind it.

Thanks again, Sue!

Sandy, yes I was planning to enter a show in my own state and the organization stated that they would only take hand delivered artwork, and I'm seeing more shows doing the same thing. I guess they are afraid the artwork will get damaged in shipping and they would be blamed for it rather than the carrier?

I agree with Marge that it seems like there is a certain 'look' that particular judges go for. Often it is in the same style that the judges paint! ;D

Sandy Askey-Adams
There are a lot of National Art Competitions out there and they could not be called "National" if they only accepted works that could be hand delivered.

I will be concerned till my work arrives at its destination, of that, there is no doubt. They tell me it should be there by next Wednesday. Plus, I usually ship early in the week to avoid work being held up in a warehouse. This time, I did not due to eye surgery I have coming up next Tuesday and I had to get these paintings shipped out before then.
I worry that there are some people working for these shipping companies who could not care less about handling fragile merchandise. They just want to get their job done with and get paid.
Hopefully, there are not too many like that out there.

Sue Martin
Margie, thanks so much for posting your opposing view. I, too, visited your blog and agree with Sandy that your work is excellent (good enough to eat!). I think we each have to do what works for us and you seem to have found your way.

Thank you, Sandy, for taking the time to post your experience with buying boxes and shipping. Again, there's clearly an investment. We each need to ask things like: What's the potential payoff? Is this good "advertising" for my work? Where else could I buy an ad to reach that many people and what would it cost?

And Casey, thanks for reporting your belated recognition for a painting entered several years ago. That's the kind of "jackpot" we'd all like to hit. We need to decide if the juried show is the right strategy for each of us.

Margie wrote: "...And why should we try to paint something to fit into somebody else's idea of "what is good". Some of these show catalogs look exactly the same from year to year: the same-old, predictable portraits and still lifes, all looking like they were painted by one certain artist they've decided is "the master"."

Amen, Margie!

Personally I agree about not applying to juried shows. Almost every month I put something into the Raymar contest associated with FASO because the cost is included in my website membership. But really I don't understand why artists should pay to have their art seen/judged by who?.. It seems like it has become a huge market or alternative source of income for some "galleries" or other venues to hold these "juried shows". Unless it is associated with an organization that you are a member of (like OPA) I just feel like there is no reason why an artist should pay for one of these things. Shouldn't it be the other way around??

I agree with Kelly. I am on a limited budget and can't afford the fees- for what is basically gambling. Artists need to follow the example of the Impressionists and have their own show. I really feel like they are taking advantage of artists when they charge $35 to send in digital entries!

Joanne Benson
Good Luck with your competitions. Always lots of considerations to think about before entering a show.......Hope you are successful in your endeavors and as someone else pointed out.....these are things we all think about when deciding to enter juried shows......thanks for sharing

Margie Guyot
I think much of what we artists are being urged to do is just another case of "The King's Clothes". Everybody's got their hand out for us, wanting to sell us something. Winning a big, national competition -- or even getting accepted into one -- is such a longshot. A genuine hassle, besides. I know for a fact that not all the judging is fair, either. I've seen at least one case of a judge picking their friends' work. We need to ask ourselves: are we better off striving to do our best, selling in our local galleries -- or should we spend our lives chasing a nearly-impossible dream? Trying to achieve somebody else's idea of "perfection"? You can waste a lifetime at this.

I think that the gold in what you are saying Margie is that we should each know what we consider success for ourselves and then go after it tenaciously. For some that may include entering competitions and for others not. In the end it seems to be a personal journey and really we learn a lot by trial and error (and try again!). That's our whole mott/philosophy really.
Some competitions really do bring national and international recognition, and many others not. Pick and choose wisely is the name of the game!

Brian Sherwin
Lorrie said, “I don't bother with "any medium, any style" as those seem to lean more to the contemporary, of which my work is not.”

I loathe art competitions that are open to all mediums and styles. You are correct-- most competitions like that tend to favor contemporary works of art. There is simply no balance to be found when art competitions do not involve specific categories-- or at least a unified direction.

Categories based on medium, style, or both is very important in my opinion. That goes 10 fold for online art competitions. How can you compare and image of a sculpture to an image of a painting? You can't. Thus, those two artistic directions deserve their own category.

Avoid art competitions that don't have a unified direction-- or specific categories-- like the plague. For years I was part of the problem-- I'll admit that. As a former member of the Myartspace Management Team I had to sit back and watch many artists throw their money away on competitions that they had very little chance of winning. MAS competitions were almost always promoted as 'open to all'-- but they clearly had a direction as to what they wanted. That is one reason I decided to part ways.

That said, one point I'd like to make is that artists should always look at art by past winners of an art competition. It can give you a general feel for what the venue or website is going for. Had the blunt of artists looked at the winners of MAS art competitions they would have saved themselves some time-- and money.

With that in mind, you can't really blame MAS for artists who failed to research the competitions and past winners. Still-- 'open to all mediums, styles' competitions are almost always code words for 'we want your money and we really don't care if your art fits what we are looking for. So be careful!

I'm working on an article that reflects on some of my experiences as an online art competition promoter. These issues should be explored more-- Sue, thanks for offering your insight.

Sue Martin
Kelly, that's a great summary statement on the debate - should I or shouldn't I enter competitions? It is, indeed, a very personal decision dependent on one's goals. Thank you for stating that so clearly.

I just submitted my last entries (for now) last night...whew! I chose not to enter one of the three shows I was considering, only because it involved a 40-mile trip and I couldn't make time in my schedule to deliver a painting.

So now, I'm in that nail-biting period as I wait for the accept/decline decisions. As I told one writer, there was one year (2009, I think) when I was rejected time after time. I knew it wasn't because my work had suddenly taken a dive in quality. It was just the way those particular jurors viewed my work in comparison to other entries. Oh well. The next year I was accepted in most shows I entered and even won awards.

So, if juried shows is part of your marketing strategy, go for it, and don't get discouraged!

Sue Martin
Thank you, Brian. I look forward to your article on entering online competitions.

Sue Betanzos
I loved this article because I also have an opportunity to enter a large state competition. Brian and Casey are so right. It pays to research who is judging and what is the preference. If it is contemporary and you do realism, forget it.
I agree that there should be more specific guide lines so artists who work in a specific genre get to the right competitions.
Plus it is expensive with fees, plus they take a 40 - 50 percent on sales. Most or all of my sales come from commissions and my own marketing. I get fan mail from my public art, but few commissions.
I apply for RFQ's instead that will offer better exposure for actual commissioned work. No entry fees and my name is kept on an artist roster for future reference.
It is much more worthwhile for the effort and work.
Thanks for the info and great article!

Sue Martin
I'd be really careful not to assume that a juror who paints in a non-realistic style will be biased against realistic paintings. I've worked with many jurors over the years and I've watched them try very hard to select a show that is balanced, i.e., different styles, different subjects. They want the show to be representative of the artists who entered and to look good when hung. They judge on the basis of technical excellence, but most have told me that above all they are looking for some expression of the artist's heart and soul (not to be confused with an "expressionistic" style). I've been amazed at times by the excellent paintings that didn't get in and the more expressive ones that did get in (again, that doesn't mean they were non-realistic).

Last year a juror who is a realistic watercolor landscape painter gave an award to my (strange) mixed media figurative painting! You just never know!

One year when I was show chair, and the juror was a well known figurative painter, many of our artists submitted figurative paintings. Big mistake. The juror was determined not to show bias toward figurative work (and maybe he was more critical of those because that's he own subject) that he went out of his way to balance the show with paintings other than figures.

You're better off painting your best subject in your own best style.

Casey Craig
Good clarification Sue!

When I stated "research the juror", I wasn't implying that an artist/juror couldn't be fair and select works from outside their own style or medium just that you should look at previous shows that they've juried and decide for yourself.

This is something to look at especially when you have a non-artist as juror, like a museum or gallery curator. Sometimes they tend to lean towards more avant garde works and avoid more classic styles, just depends on the show and the juror. I'm in no way trying to make generalizations about all jurors.


Brian Sherwin
Casey said, "This is something to look at especially when you have a non-artist as juror, like a museum or gallery curator. Sometimes they tend to lean towards more avant garde works and avoid more classic styles, just depends on the show and the juror. I'm in no way trying to make generalizations about all jurors."

I agree with the part about jurors who are museum or gallery curators. My experience has been that they do tend to lean more towards the type of art that they focus on career-wise.

For example, if you enter an "open to all mediums and styles" kind of art competition and the juror is a curator who is known for focusing on photography- well, you can bet that photography submissions may have an edge toward winning. The results of competitions like that often show that to be true.

That said, not every juror is like that. Many art professionals embrace a wide range of art. However, I do think it is important to look at past winners of any art competition that you enter. If possible-- try to research the type of art the juror has selected before if he or she has been involved with several art competitions.

I'll use Myartspace as an example since they often take the 'anything is accepted' approach-- the winners were often artists working with edgy themes or subjects. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that many of the museum and mainstream gallery jurors were used to that type of art. Thus, you won't see a traditional landscape painter winning one of their competitions anytime soon.

That is the danger of art competitions that are open to all mediums and styles-- and are promoted as accepting all types/forms of art. They will accept them-- sure... but they may very well be accepting those submissions knowing that the art stands little chance. At some point it becomes an ethical issue.

Categories are the way to go. If the organizers of an art competition clearly state what they are looking for you will stand a better chance of coming out on top. That is one reason why I like the Boldbrush competition... it is broke down into categories with a focus on painting. You know what you are getting into when you submit.

I'm very wary of art competitions that pit sculpture, painting, photography and everything else under the sun against each other. In most cases-- if you show someone an image of a sculpture next to an image of a painting they will almost always side with the painting. If you show an image of a sculpture next to an image of another sculpture... the choice becomes harder to make-- and the result just seems more fair to me.


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