I have been asked many times “what are Juried Shows?” The answer I give is that they are shows that the pieces on display are picked by a group of qualified people.
Simple enough I thought. However this seems to scare some people. So I gave it some more thought and here is the result.
The fear aspect that I keep running into: Juried shows are not something to be feared. The people who are jurying are not ogres. They are a group of people, usually who have been given directions on what the show is to look like and how much room there is for the display.
So, the one of the first things a person needs to do when they are considering entering a juried show, check out the past shows! Generally Juried show sites will have a spot where you can check out what the last year’s show entries look like. Then you have to decide if your work would be compatible with the theme or look that the show goes for. There is no point in going into a show where your work stands no chance of making it. Some shows are definitely not an apple show with an orange!
Sometimes it is not so much a look a show has but it can be an eclectic mix of quality work. One such example of that sort of show is the Arts Without Borders show, another is the Legacy Gallery Salon Show. In these types of shows, another parameter is often size. Venues very often have limited sizes for entries. They do this so that they can get a good number of pieces into the show, there may also be size limitation, plus a maximum number on entries per person. So it is the artist’s job to check the prospectus for limitations on the artwork to be entered.
Once you have made these two main decisions, the next biggy is….Follow the directions for entering! If they say jpeg entries at 300 dpi, that is what you send; not a jpeg at 72 dpi. If they say send a disc, send a disc. If they tell you to enter via a jurying site, do so. If they specify putting your last name on the image file, do it. Most shows get a lot of entries, and if yours does not follow the specifications, it is out before the jury process even starts! So you have wasted the jury fee you sent!
Ont the topic of Show fees; they can vary from 10 to 50 dollars. This is not a money gouge of artists. These fees are used to pay for the venue and the jurors time. Jurying is a tough job and takes a lot of time. Generally the higher the fee the better the venue and juror. Online shows tend to have lower Show fees, because the venue is not a cost.
OK, you have entered, and now you want to know what is going on or will happen. Sometimes you will get an acknowledgement that the show received your entry; other times not. You can ask to be told, if you are wondering, but there is no guarantee they will answer if they are busy.
People have asked me if they will get any comments from the jurors about their work. Most often not. Sometimes, if the jurors have said something about a person’s work, the chair of the show MAY pass them on. That does not happen too often though simply because of the volume of entries that are gone through.
So the next question is “Why enter?” Well if you are content with staying at hobby level, there is no need, other than to bench mark your progress in painting or whatever ability level. Generally the better you get, the more shows you get juried into. If you are being more serious about your craft, the more juried shows you are juried into, and the more elite the show is that you are juried into; the more credibility it gives you as an artist. A Gallery owner once told me that she found that collectors tended to look at an artists credentials when deciding on a purchase. Just something to think about; keep track of the shows you are juried into for your CV, and any awards you get.
Now the jury process; As stated before, the first hurdle is: have the entries followed the criteria set out in the prospectus?
That is the first cut done to the entries.
The next cut is the Overall look the jurors have been tasked with. They will do a quick (often no more than a couple of seconds) to cut out the entries that do not fit the “look”. This has nothing to do with the quality of the work, only the look. You have to remember that there are a lot of entries and to get a fair judgement this needs to be done. Otherwise you end up with tired and grumpy people judging.
At this point, the quality of the work comes into play. The work is gone over again, this time looking for the “wow” factor or a painting that really “grabs” the jurors. This again, is a very fast overview.
this process has now given the jurors a “shortlist”
Now we are at the “nitty gritty” part of the jury process. This is where the technique, skill, and overall quality of the art is judged, argued, and decided on. Every juror will have their own take on these qualities, and they will debate each piece. Remember, jurying is a subjective process! The jurors mood, who peed in their cornflakes, etc all come into play in how they feel about the art they are looking at. The debate that will determine who gets in, is done, by how well the “pro for it” vs. the “not so keen” jurors put across their arguments. These arguments can be short or drawn out. Again, it all depends on the jurors.
As a rule, jurors generally whittle down the number of entries (if not limited to room) to about one third to one quarter the number of entries. So if you make it in….IT IS A BIG DEAL!! CELEBRATE!
If there are awards to be given….The process starts again with even tighter judgments. So if you get an award…DOUBLE KUDOS!!
Jury process done, the jurors go have a well deserved glass of wine, and get a huge thank you from the Show Chair.
I hope this helps those of you who are wondering about the whole jury process thing and takes out the fear! I find them exciting, and useful tools. I do not take it personally if I don’t get in. The reasons why are simple: I did not meet the show standard, or was not the taste of the day. I shrug my shoulders and think…Next Time!
Till next time!