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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. Remember...gallery 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.
Tune in next week for more on Juried Shows...
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