Entering Art Shows

Dan Schultz

I think exhibiting your artwork in group shows is a great way to promote yourself as an artist and to attract buyers. Many other artists think so too. And with so many people these days wanting to take their art hobby in a professional direction, the benefits of art shows are apparent.
But, warning — the probability is high that you’ll receive a good ego-beating at some point while entering art shows, so use caution!

A few helpful hints:

1. Enter what you consider to be your best work. (Have good reasoning behind this, don’t just enter your latest.)

2. Have a friend or two (whose opinion you respect) weigh in on the appeal of your chosen piece(s). Get their feedback.

3. Decide if a given show is worth entering. Does the show have a reputation of including quality artwork? How much is the entry fee? Who will be jurying the show and giving the awards? Will the show attract buyers?

4. Be prepared for acceptance and rejection.

Many artists first pursue local shows at libraries, restaurants or other shops. Your local art guild may also be a good venue. Inclusion in shows like these will give you some feedback on your work and help you decide whether to start entering nationally.

Once at the national level, you’ll find that the competition is steeper, prizes are better and chances are greater for attracting serious art collectors. But it’s important to remember that even national shows are subject to the opinions of jurors and judges. I’ve had my artwork rejected by many shows, and have even had a few paintings rejected by one show and awarded a prize in another.

The key is to keep at it. Ideally, you’ll someday look back to discover that your acceptances outweigh your rejections, that you’re pleased to have been part of some good shows and that you’re continually learning to be your own best critic.

And someday, you may find yourself blessed to ascend even higher and reach the radiant pinnacle: the invitational museum show. Sargent would be proud.

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