all artwork shown above is by Mary Knoblock

Tips for entering Art Shows, Juried Exhibitions & Competitions

There are many things artists should consider before entering art contests, competitions, and juried exhibitions:
  • Is the event local, regional, national, or international? The larger the pool of artists, the harder it will be to get accepted into the show, but the prizes are generally higher.
  • Does your work meet the guidelines for theme, medium, size, weight, and presentation requirements?
  • Are you required to send a bio, artist's statement, or other credentials with your submission?
  • What are the fees? A small entry fee is acceptable, but artists should be weary of vanity galleries which charge exhibition fees, reception fees, or promotional fees.
  • Ask who will be judging the competition. What are their credentials? What is their affiliation with the organization sponsoring/hosting the event?
  • Will the art be juried/judged from slides or actual work? If the art is juried from slides or digital images and your images aren't of professional quality, you will be at a disadvantage.
  • What type of awards are given? Are purchase awards (whereby your work is sold for the amount of the award) worth more or less than the sales value of your work?
  • How many works may be accepted per artist? Acceptance may be limited to one work per artist even though multiple works may be submitted. Also, because venues often have a limited amount of space, smaller works may be favored.
  • Must all works be available for purchase?
  • What commissions are taken on sales? Will commissions be taken on purchase awards?
  • Who is responsible for paying sales tax on art sold at the exhibition?
  • Where will the work be displayed? How will the exhibit be promoted? Be wary of events that are only promoted toward artists, rather than toward buyers, collectors, and the public.
  • Do you retain all copyrights for your artwork? Or does the promoter intend to use artists' images in printed publications, etc.
  • Does the organization hold such events annually, monthly, etc.? Annual events tend to be larger, better promoted, and more prestigious. Be wary of sponsors who promote an annual drawing competition one month, an annual painting competition the next, and an annual sculpture competition the next.
  • Is information available about the attendance or sales from previous exhibitions? (Keep in mind that purchase awards may be considered as sales.)
  • Will the gallery or other place of venue insure the work while it is on the premises?
  • Does the chamber of commerce (in the city or county where the event takes place) know anything about it or have any info on the business or organization hosting the event?

All of that said... consider what you want to get out of entering juried art shows or fine art competitions:
  • If your goal is to build your artist's resume, look for the most prestigious shows (also the hardest to get accepted into). Ask how many artists have entered previously and how many of those artists were accepted into the exhibition.
  • If your goal is to sell your work, choose the art shows that are heavily promoted to buyers, collectors and the public or ones that have had the most sales in the past. Keep in mind that entering art contests is a great way to gain exposure for your work even if you don't make an immediate sale. Always have brochures, business cards, or postcards of your work available to encourage future sales.
  • If your goal is to win an award, find out as much about the judge/juror as possible --what he or she looks for. What kinds of work have they selected in previous art shows? They will probably be more apt to have discriminating taste in their area of expertise.