Getting Your Work Out There – Art Organizations and Juried Shows, Part 1 & Part 2


    This post is by guest author, Debra Joy Groesser. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission.  We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 70,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.





    Woodland Water Lilies- 8x16 oil - private collection



    Art Organizations and How They Can Benefit Your Career



    How Can Art Organizations Benefit You?


    Being involved with an art organization can offer countless benefits to artists depending on your interest and goals, including:

    • Opportunities to show and sell your work through exhibitions, both online and in galleries...some even in museums...and to network with gallery owners and collectors.
    • Exposure through the organization’s website and social media platforms (not all have personal member profiles on their sites, but many do).
    • Educational opportunities through workshops, lectures, demonstrations, etc., providing personal and professional growth opportunities as well as inspiration! 
    • Opportunities to earn distinguished designations such as Signature or Master member, adding to your resume. 
    • Camaraderie with your fellow artists, whether online, at meetings, shows, paintouts etc. 
    • Opportunities to volunteer and be involved, which can be very rewarding and help you develop leadership and organizational skills. Giving back to an organization by volunteering feels good, gives you a better understanding of the workings of these type of organizations, and helps the art world as a whole. It can also lead to even more opportunities for you!

    Finding the Right Art Organizations for You


    There are many professional art organizations out there, from local to regional, national to international. Some are focused on a particular medium (Oil Painters of America, National Watercolor Society etc), some include most all media. Some are subject specific (American Marine Artists, etc) or style specific (American Impressionist Society, Plein Air Artists Colorado, etc). Some, like American Women Artists, are gender based. Finding those that are the right fit for you is important, based on your interests, expectations and your goals. All organizations charge a membership fee or dues annually. These can range widely depending on the organization, from $30 to over $300 per year. Some offer one juried exhibition per year, some offer multiple shows (online and in galleries). Some require you going through a jurying process in order to be accepted for membership, others don’t. Nearly all require membership in order to be eligible to enter their exhibitions in addition to an entry fee for their shows. Most organizations have not only websites, but also extensive exposure on social media. Follow the ones you’re interested in. Check out their websites. If you have any questions, call or email them, or ask a member. Being an artist can be a very solitary profession. Professional art organizations can be a very important and rewarding part of your art career, providing an abundance of benefits, from camaraderie and friendships to personal and professional growth, to exposure for you and your work.  


    Tips on Entering Juried Shows



    Why Enter Juried Shows Anyway?


    There are juried art shows out there for all experience and skill levels. As mentioned above, many professional art organizations offer juried shows to their members. Entering a juried show can take some courage, as not everyone who submits work will have their work accepted. Knowing and accepting that going in, juried shows can be a great way to get exposure for your work.


    Juried shows can offer:

    • Exposure to and networking opportunities with galleries, collectors and the media (all but one of the galleries I have ever been represented by found me through a juried or invitational show)
    • Discounted advertising opportunities with show media sponsors
    • A way to build your resume
    • Awards (although don’t expect them) and recognition
    • Sales potential


    If any of these are part of your career goals, then juried shows may be worth your time and money. A word of caution: you will not be accepted into every show you enter. You WILL face rejection (in fact likely far more often than acceptance) and must be prepared to accept that it is a part of the process and your growth as an artist. More on that later.


    How to choose which shows to enter

    Choose shows that are appropriate for your skill level and quality of work. You may be ready for national shows or you may want to start with more local or regional shows. National shows are normally much more competitive than local or regional ones. Like the Olympics in the sports world, some are exceptionally high level and extremely competitive. Make sure your work fits the show’s criteria (examples: plein air, impressionism, a specific medium such as oil or pastel). If you enter an abstract or non-representational piece in a show which is for realism or representational work, your work will be disqualified for not adhering to the show criteria. Check out the reputation of the organization or organizer sponsoring the show – beware of scams, especially online – talk to other artists who have been in the shows you are considering. Larger shows often have online catalogs of previous years’ shows so you can check out the type of work that is accepted. This will really help you get an idea if your work is a good fit for a particular show. Check out the number of entries vs the number of accepted works (if that information is available). Some shows may accept up to 50% or more of the submitted entries. Last year, the American Impressionist Society received nearly 1600 entries with 175 accepted (a bit over 10%). The higher the percentage, the better your chances are of being accepted...if you enter your best work! The lower the percentage, the more difficult and more competitive the show is... but keep in mind that is what makes a show more prestigious too.


    On Judges and Jurors

    The judges (who give the awards) are nearly always publicized. The juror or jurors (who score the works and whose scores determine the pieces accepted in the show) are usually anonymous in the larger, national shows. There are several reasons for this. When jurors’ names are publicized they are sometimes contacted by artists who are not accepted into the show, expecting to get an explanation or a critique. Occasionally they (and the organizations) are openly criticized on social media. PLEASE DON’T EVER DO THIS! It is unprofessional and will reflect poorly on you, no matter how good your work is. It could impact your career in a negative way. owners, show organizers, magazine editors/publishers and collectors are watching on social media. Make sure their impression of you is a good one...that they see you as professional, supportive and courteous. Although jurors are usually paid a small stipend, they are not paid to do critiques in addition to jurying. Some people enter shows based on who the judges and jurors are...they try to “paint for the judge” thinking if they paint the subjects or style the judge does it increases their chances of acceptance or awards. This is just usually not the case. In my experience, you have a much better chance of acceptance and even awards if you enter your best work regardless of who the judge or jurors are. 




    Part 2 on Juried Shows


    You’ve chosen a show to what?

    Read the show prospectus carefully. Note deadlines and follow the instructions to the letter. Avoid having your entry disqualified because of careless errors or omissions. Nearly all shows use digital images for their entry submissions. You will need high quality photos of your work...use a professional photographer if necessary. Your photos must not show frames or any extraneous backgrounds...only the image of the artwork itself. They must be in focus and oriented correctly. The jurors have a very short time to view each image and they have to score your work based on the image you submit. If they can’t see the work clearly, it will hurt your score or could even disqualify your work. Make sure your image is sized correctly according to specifications for the entry system. 


    Fill out the application and make sure all your information is entered correctly. Double checking that your entry isn't disqualified due to an avoidable mistake on the application.


    If you are entering a show sponsored by an organization, where membership is required to be eligible to enter, be sure to pay the membership fee before submitting your show entry. These type of shows usually require a show entry fee in addition to membership.


    If you are entering a show that will be held in a gallery, work will almost always need to be for sale and must be priced according to your established sales prices. Do not overprice your work because you don’t want it to sell. This is not fair to the hosting gallery, the organization sponsoring the show and your fellow artists and can put you at risk of disqualification. If you don’t want to sell it, do not submit it...choose a different piece. If you sell a painting that’s been accepted into a show and then pull out of the show, you may risk being ineligible for subsequent shows.


    Submit your entry well before the entry deadline. The majority of entries for juried shows usually come in during the last week prior to the deadline, many on the very last day. For shows using online jurying systems, once the deadline has passed and the system has closed, it cannot be reopened to accept late entries. Inevitably problems can and will arise at the last minute, so it’s best to plan to submit your entries a few days ahead of that final deadline.


    Most importantly, enter your very best work. Save your very best work for the juried shows you wish to enter. Again, double check your entry before you submit to make sure everything is complete and correct. 



    Jury Results – Elation or Deflation

    This is the nerve-wracking part of entering juried shows. The waiting and anticipation is hard! Every show will list notification dates for the jury results. Mark that on your calendar and note if the results will be posted online or if you will receive an email notification. If you do not receive a notification on that date, check your application status to see if the jurying is complete or not. Most jurying systems give you the ability to see if your work was accepted or declined right on your application status. 


    If you are accepted

    Note shipping and delivery instructions and dates on your calendar. If you don’t ship your work to the show on time, you risk disqualification from that show and subsequent shows. Again, follow all instructions to the letter. Make sure to include any crate fees, return shipping labels, bios...whatever is required.


    What if your painting sells before the show? Usually the gallery hosting the show will handle the sale and take their commission according to the show prospectus. Normally, you will be required to send the painting to the show regardless. Again, adhere to the rules as stated on the prospectus to avoid possible disqualification from future shows. If in doubt contact the show organizer or the organization. 


    Attend the opening reception if at all possible. This is a great opportunity for networking, meeting gallery owners, collectors and other artists. There’s a much higher chance of selling your work if collectors can meet you and connect with you.


    If your work is “declined” – the dreaded “rejection” letter

    This is the hardest part...hands down. I once heard OPA Master Neil Patterson say: “If you’re accepted, you’re not necessarily as good as you think you are, and if you’re rejected you’re not as bad as you think you are. Just keep painting the best paintings you can and eventually you will be accepted.” It’s true!


    Don’t give up. It took me 13 times entering the Oil Painters of American National Juried Exhibition before I was finally accepted. Persistence, hard work and perseverance do pay off. The only way you will never get into a show is if you quit trying and don’t enter. The only way your last rejection will be your last is if you never enter again.


    Personally, I take each rejection as a personal challenge to try harder, to make my next painting even better than the last. Do I get down and discouraged? Absolutely! Go ahead and have a pity party for a few hours or even a day (I allow this for myself), but don’t let it overwhelm or defeat you. Above all, be gracious and be professional...refrain from complaining to or about show organizers, judges and jurors about not being accepted. It cannot be emphasized owners, collectors, and many others are watching on social media and elsewhere.  


    Know that in EVERY show, there are always a lot of deserving works that do not get in. In the example of the 2017 American Impressionist Society exhibition, over 1400 paintings received decline notifications...out of nearly 1600 entries. You are not alone, in fact you are in very good company. Every show has limits as to how many pieces they can accept. Every juror or panel of jurors is different. Every show you enter a particular painting in, you are competing against an entirely different group of paintings. Most artists, myself included, have experienced having a painting rejected from one show only to win an award with the same painting in another show. Bottom line...juried shows can be a great way to get your work out there. It takes courage and you will have disappointments along the way, but it is all part of the process of growing in your work, your career and as an artist. It’s worth it! Be patient, keep trying, keep working hard and growing...and don’t give up...ever. 





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