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Aletta de Wal
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Fabienne Bismuth
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Juried Shows: Enter the S.M.A.R.T. Way

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Enter Juried Shows the S.M.A.R.T. Way

"Each year, artists waste millions of dollars and thousands of hours because they don't know the secrets professionals know. Because they don't do things right, they don't get into the good shows that they should have gotten into. And won prizes for. And sold their art from." - Benny Shaboy, Art Opportunities Monthly

Artists often ask me if they should enter juried shows. My first question is what prompted the idea. Three common reasons given are:

  • "It's here in town, so I may as well see what happens."
  • "It's on-line so it won't cost me shipping and insurance."
  • "It will give me lots of exposure."

I applaud the notion of getting your work out there. And I can understand the allure of entering a show for any of these reasons. It sounds easy, less work than traveling somewhere and it will give you exposure. But I hate to see artists grasping at shows without at least a cursory assessment to see if they have the time and budget for it.

If you are like most artists who need to use your resources more carefully, before you enter a show take at least 3 steps before you make your decision:

  1. Look at your goals for the year. (You do have them, don't you?) See where a juried show fits in. Do you want feedback on your work, reputation through winning awards, or do you want to sell your work? The answer will help you decide if the show is right for you.  If you don't yet have goals, or are just beginning to show your art, you may not be ready to enter juried shows, but you can begin to research them.
  2. Enter only legitimate shows. Like galleries, not all juried shows are created equally. This is especially true for on-line shows, where the "Call for Artists" may be a veiled advertisement to attract artists to a portal or web development service. Contact artists who have been in the show to ask about the experience with the host and their results.
  3. If the show fits, tailor your entry. Start by reading the instructions carefully. If you have any questions about meeting the requirements, ask. Aside from getting accurate information, you have just gotten one step closer to a real person involved in the jurying process. Then, follow instructions. If you find yourself arguing with the show protocols, find another show. It's their rules; your art.


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