Since you spend so much time and energy creating works of art, it seems sensible to put it out there for other people to enjoy. If you want to be serious about your artistic activities, you should develop your curriculum vitae by showing your works in juried exhibitions. Juried shows are usually fund-raising activities for art organizations, galleries, educational institutions, or community groups. They typically select only some of submitted works. It is an affirmation of your labors when a knowledgeable art scholar selects your work and doubly so when someone cares enough to buy it.
There are websites dedicated to letting you know about “call for entries” for juried shows. Opportunities can also be found in local arts scene newspapers and websites. Or leave your email address at a few art groups and calls-for-entries will eventually find you. Most juried shows charge for submission and also take a sales commission if your work is sold.
Some exhibitions receive digital submissions via websites. You need to have a decent (clear not high res) closeup photograph of each work. Web submissions are nice because it reduces the number of trips you need to make to the gallery. Wide region shows will always use this digital approach so that only accepted pieces need to physically come to the gallery.
Local exhibitions may ask the submitters to bring the pieces being submitted to their location. Works not accepted must be picked up a few days later.
Tips for successful submission:
· Read the directions. If there are restrictions on the media, size, framing method, theme, etc., comply or don’t submit.
· Most jurors have a few basic criteria: the work should demonstrate a mastery of its medium and the work should be innovative, interesting and engaging. The juror will also curate a show that hangs well together and is itself interesting so the work will need to fit in with the other selected works.
· Read about the juror. She probably has a website where you might spot an affinity for a certain medium, style or aesthetic. If the juror is a gallery director, she may favor works that are likely to sell. However, if the juror is associated with a museum or university, she may be more focused on the difficulty and excellence of execution.
· You will probably be able to describe your work in the submission. Be sure to include the various techniques employed (e.g., dry point, aquatint, chine collé) and that it is archival and original (not giclée).
· Submit several pieces together if the show offers that opportunity at a reasonable price. One may catch the juror’s eye and the rest might help her appreciate the artist’s body of work. She is usually not informed of anything else about the submitter.
· For works on paper, mat and frame your work. A simple black frame with archival matting is fine. Expensive fancy or colored frames are likely to be as much a disadvantage as a cheap drugstore frame. It really should have a hanging wire rather than a saw tooth hanger. Non-archival mats are instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with original art. Plexiglass is recommended if the work is to be shipped. You can put all this together yourself or there are companies that can do it for you that are not too expensive. (One example is www.americanframe.com)
· At the show’s reception, ask the juror what she liked or didn’t like about your work.
· Don’t give up on your work or even a particular piece that you have confidence in. At any gallery the juror changes from show to show and the nature of each show changes as other works are selected.
You don’t need to limit yourself to juried shows. With a mini-proposal in hand you can find your own solo-show opportunity with perhaps a bigger audience than the galleries offer. These venues might include offices, restaurants, wineries, breweries, coffee shops, markets or other such private or public spaces. Find out if your chosen location displays art and to whom you should address your proposal. You can then send digital images of your work, your CV, and any other information about your show which will sell it. Include a suggested time period for hanging and a list of your questions about publicity, refreshments, and commissions.
And, of course, you can do as we have done — join a cooperative art gallery like the Washington Printmakers Gallery!
Dave and Jane Mann – email@example.com