Tips for Entering Juried Exhibitions

Q. Do you have any pointers on improving my chances for being accepted into a juried show? I realize I must submit high-quality artwork, but are there other factors that might affect the jurors’ choices?

The first consideration is that images of your work (whether slides or digital files) must be of the best possible quality to represent your art accurately. Avoid photographing a painting from above or from the side, which results in obvious distortion of your work. On occasion, I see images that are overexposed or underexposed, neither of which works in the entrant’s favor. It’s my belief that the artwork’s frame should not be photographed, as this requires passing judgment not only on the painting but also the choice of frame. I also recommended that the painting image be the only thing in the slide; avoid including peripheral views of the room in which the photograph is taken.

As far as the artwork itself is concerned, personally, I respond negatively to signatures that are too large and prominent or placed in an inappropriate area of the painting. Generally, jurors seem to lean toward noncommissioned works with original compositions—not portraits or pictures that seem to have been done for hire or in the classroom.

Knowing the painting style of the jurors can sometimes be helpful in anticipating what kind of work they might respond to favorably or, conversely, what they might not like. Keep in mind that a painting can be rejected by one group of jurors and be a prizewinner with a different jury. Be aware that competitions that stress cutting edge work may not be sympathetic to traditional realism and very conservative competitions may not look favorably upon abstract painting.

Personally I look for originality as well as knowledge of fundamental painting techniques. I assess skills in handling drawing, values, color and composition, and I consider whether the artist has successfully realized his or her conception.
This Q&A is an excerpt from the Ask the Expert column in The Artist’s Magazine. To see the full article on art competitions, click here for the September 2009 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, available at


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