Last week I was part of a jury for new artists for the Chatham Artists Guild. I volunteered to be a part of this jury because I wanted to sit on the other side and understand the process better, so that I could properly apply to shows that are juried. I have been applying to juried events for around four years now, I have gotten in to some great shows, I have been rejected for some shows. This might be a no brainer for some, but seeing how the jury process works and being a juror myself, gave me some new insight.
I already knew that you need to send in good photos. But now I know this is probably one of the most important parts of applying for a show. The photos can make a huge difference. And they need to be readable files. We had one entry that would not read on the PC that was hooked up to the projector so we had to look at the photos on the Mac laptop. This person had some good work, but the images were very difficult to judge. So I thought I would just list a few of my observations for anyone reading this that might just now be starting to enter into the jury process.
1. You really need your photos to be as close to professional as you can get them. Well lit, easy to understand the scale, the dimensions, and the material. I can't emphasize enough how important this step is. Environmental photos are not appealing, don't want to see you house decor! This is not the time to make artsy photos either. I remember once submitting images that Gerry had shot where I added some props and we made them all artsy pics. Wrong, it distracts from the judging of the work.
2. The work you present should be a cohesive body of work. If you do two or three things, this is not the time to tell people that. It is confusing. Each photo should flow nicely to the next one and you should tell a story about who you are and what you create with your images for greater impact. We had one artist that presented three different types of media, it was odd and we didn't quite understand what they did.
3. Be aware that someone else may be applying in your media and you may be judged next to that person. If you don't present the very best work you have, you may pale in comparison to another artist that is applying, thus swaying the opinions of the judges. Present the best work you have made.
4. It is important to describe your work well. We referred to the image description sheets frequently, and some were hard to understand. Make this clear and concise.
5. Don't put your name on the images so that they will show up on the screen, it is supposed to be an anonymous process. We had a couple of people that submitted with their name showing up, it's hard to be impartial when this happens.
6. Wrinkled backdrops are unappealing, I saw several, and it distracted from the quality of the work.
7. Keep in mind that when it comes down to it, you are still being judged by an individual with their own taste, so it can be a subjective process. Although I did not personally like some of the work submitted, I tried to judge it on the craftsmanship and the skill level of the artist rather than whether or not I would personally buy it. That was hard to do and I wonder how many times I have been judged by someone that just didn't personally like my style or what I made.
Just keep in mind, if you present the very best work you possibly can, and you still get rejected, it wasn't personal, it wasn't because someone didn't like you. It just means that you were not right for that particular show, maybe there was another similar artist that was way better, there is always someone better out there, you just need to be the one, you just need to keep working at getting better. You may think your craft is good, but better artists than you might be judging your work and know that it could be better, I'm still working at that with every piece I make!
I hope this helps. I highly recommend sitting on a jury if you ever have the chance, It gives you a different perspective when presenting your own work. I know it helped me.
I have volunteered to speak with those that were rejected if they want to have constructive feedback. I also think this is a helpful step in understanding why you did or didn't get selected so that you can present better the next time. I hope I don't make anyone mad! You know I have a history of expressing my opinions......