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July 2012

Entering Art Prizes

Been in them, won some, lost some and been bewildered by most. 
As they say though, you have to be in it to win it, or to get a chance of showing anyway.

So why in the first place even bother with Art Prizes?
successful entry 2011 Warringah Art Prize 

As I hinted...
As an artist, getting your artwork OUT THERE is how people get to experience your work.
Sure the internet is awesome and everyone and anyone can see your work, but to experience it? Well it's better done in person. And if its showing, most of the time you get to go along for the ride so people get to meet you too! We will get to this bit later. 
So by entering an artshow, you get to SHOW your art. Simple. 
Well IF you get in. We will get to THAT point too! 
The entry cost is USUALLY small (average is about $20 per entry) so it represents a fantastic return on your investment too. 

Oh nothing makes a portfolio look meatier than a long list of Art prizes. So entering Art prizes gives you the chance to A. get into their exhibitions and B. perhaps even win them! All looks great in your portfolio.
Yes you can and WILL list those prizes you got into, even though you didn't win. Though somewhat controversial, a lot of artists list any successful entry into an Art Prize as a Finalist berth. Up to you. 
You can simply build a list like so...
under the main title of art prizes, a list of the prizes you got into with region and date.
If you won a prize, mention it under the listing....
Upper Kingtownship Awesome Artworks Prize, (Kingtownship NSW) 2012
Doyle Painting Prize, (Smithtown NSW) 2012 - Peoples Choice Award Winner

get the idea? 
Have a look at others portfolios (easy done on-line) and see how they have listed them and do what feels right for you. DON'T list prizes you don't get into. YES I've seen it  done and its ridiculous. i KNOW you spent the time creating the entry BUT YOU WHERE NOT PART OF THE PRIZE EXHIBITION! An art prize list refers to the entries that where part of the exhibition. 
Festival of Surf Prize 2010 successful entry

The experience of entering an art prize IS fun, can be stressful if you let it be (we will AVOID that!), its a great learning tool and it gives you art practice experience!
Creating aimlessly is awesome, I do it, we all do it. It's out journey of discovery, it's the way we find ourselves, our voices and our styles. Oh but working on a brief, on a project, on an idea that is not entirly our own? Great things start to happen. This is because we are stretching our creative muscles in ways that we perhaps never ordinarily would. No because we are lazy, although we MAY be :). It's mostly because we haven't even begun to THINK about using them in these ways. 
Getting the outline, brief, instructions, guidelines (whatever the Art Prize you are looking at calls them!) is like getting a map to an perhaps unknown land. 
You may look at that map and think, Hang on I've been here before! I've painted miniatures before!! or I've worked on the subject of beginnings heaps of times! or Oh I've always had awesome ideas about frogs! Or whatever this art prize is looking for. 
You may look at it and say, "Oh I've never used wood in sculpture so that looks like places where there may be dragons"
Well come on! Lets go find us some dragons! This is your opportunity to try something really different. Stretch those art muscles and see what happens. 
The OTHER type of experience? If you are looking at breaking into the gallery exhibition circuit then art prizes can defiantly give you the EXPERIENCE that curators are looking for. 
OK so Art Prizes open up new experiences and give you art world experience.

Ok here we go. This is the hardest lesson to get through for most. When you create art, it's personal! Here you are pouring your heart, soul, ideas, dreams and visions into something very tangible. I mean you could actually pick it up and drop it or rip a hole through it and it's YOU! Now I'm going to tell you to NOT take it personally when someone rejects it. 
I find the best way to think of this is that although there are many different types of chocolates in a box, everyone thinks some are better than others and even though the greatest food critic in the world may proclaim one superior, really it's his/her personal opinion. BECAUSE if that person really dislikes truffle velvet filling, then even if they KNOW they should rate it higher, they won't because they don't get it.  
So it is with art critics, judges, the general public and even your family and friends. When it comes to art, much is guided by personal taste. You need to accept that. If your entry doesn't make it and you did your best and felt so sure about it, I can just about guarantee it was simply because the panel of judges did not get what you where doing. 
Do not take it as a personal rejection.
It's not even  rejection of your artwork.
Your piece did not fit their vision for this art prize. 
OK I've shown you some of my successful entries now here are some of my rejects. :)
 unsuccessful entry Mosman Art Prize 2011

unsuccessful entry Warringah Art Prize 2012

OK I don't think those two are BAD entries, they just didn't fit the vision, or there where heaps o other pieces that did so a lot better than my pieces. Are they no good? Am I terrible artist? Will I never enter another show? NO! Do I feel bad? Look no one likes to miss out and of course I felt disappointed but I don't take it personally! I missed out THIS time. Better luck next time! AND that my artist friend is how you MUST look at it when you embark on Art Prizes & even exhibition proposals.

Yeah for the wonderful internet. Just google!
There are also great sites that list upcoming Prizes and opportunities for artists
I am SURE if you Google away you will find similar sites in your area of the world!




Arts Connect




Competitions for Artists


Art_prizes_australia_logo art prizes australia

and wonderful magazines list such prizes and opportunities... 
in Australia, these two are FANTASTIC and also feature comprehensive exhibition listings

Art Guide

Art Almanac 

look out in your local newspapers, check out council websites as most councils run art prizes and check in with galleries both commercial and public. 


*read the fine print
download the entry form and read it three times. Make sure your entry fits the criteria. Don't ever think you can fluff it through with a piece that exceeds the dimensions given or medium requested. 99.999999% of the time you can't. I know we have all heard about controversial works that have made it through into things and if you are hell bent on giving it a go, well off you go. I for one love bending the rules and playing with these concepts but its a different level and for general entry of art prizes, lets just stick with TRYING to get into them, not changing the world for now.
So write down the criteria (size, medium, subject etc) 
you knew I was going to say that right? RIGHT!?
if you are entering framed works, try as much as possible to get them professionally framed. Failing that do a bloody good job yourself!
I'll be posting a step by step on this in the coming months. Recycling and Upcycling frames.
Make sure your entry forms are neatly filled in.
When dropping off your artwork, BE PROFESSIONAL and SCRUB UP! Ok I know I can hear a few of you saying, "WHAT!!?" Be yourself but for goodness sake make some sort of an effort to look clean, AWAKE, pleasant and interested. You never know who is watching when you are at these things. Walking in hung over, complaining on your phone about the venue of the art prize in clothes you haven't washed in a week MAY endear you to some sections of the art community and once you are the new Brett Whitely well you can do whatever you like but on the whole it won't. Like ANY opportunity, put your best foot forward, be yourself, be pleasant and professional. No one will take you or art seriously unless you do.

post away on this blog post, I'm more than happy to answer them :) 

(pricing your work... now I'm in what's next?... Art Prize fail - improve you 'luck' next time)