How To Apply To Art Shows:
Tips For Entering Like A Pro
by Daric Gill
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to improve your current trajectory, a smooth path to entering art shows can really improve your results. It can often seem like a daunting task, but when broken down into bite-sized chunks, it’s not too difficult. In this comprehensive article I’ll cover what you need, suggest tips for each stage of the process, and provide companion tutorials that will have you submitting like a pro. Read on for more.
What you need: 1. Good Photos of Current Art 2. Exhibition Opportunity 3. $0 - $$$ For Entry Fees 4. Read The Rules 5. Artist Bio And/Or Artist Statement (Maybe)
Good Photos Of Current Art
First, you need some good photos of current artwork. Most entries these days are processed through online applications or emails and require work that is no older than 2-3 years old. Documentation of your work should be void of distractions and should be as close to reality as possible. For help in either of those categories, check out the links below:
- Photographing Your Artwork: Beginner’s Tips That Anyone Can Do
- “I Haven’t Made Art In A While”: Getting Your Art Groove Back
- Blowing Through Artist Block
Finding Exhibition Opportunities
Check In With An Art League or Art Council (Local)
Art leagues and councils are organizations that help connect artists, musicians, and other arts individuals with art-related opportunities/funding. These organizations can be found at the community, county, state, national, and international levels. Each level should have an ongoing list of exhibition opportunities that match their respective jurisdiction.
ie. Google: (Your State) Art League OR (Your State) Art Council
Get To Know Your Neighborhood Galleries, Festivals, & Art Showcases (Local)
Visit a few galleries and art festivals in your community. Learn which areas match your style and level of expertise. Keep an eye on any upcoming open exhibitions. Showing support for your local art scene often gives access to opportunities that are not as easily found. Learn the types of galleries and how to approach them here:
Online Call For Entries (Local, National, & International)
It’s never been easier to gain access to opportunity lists and see artist directories. Countless databases collect and sort these opportunities for artists to search. Some websites even partner with the exhibitors so you can apply directly from the searchable lists. Signing up or searching these services are typically free, but advanced features may cost extra. Below are a few national opportunities, but don’t forget to look at your local online lists also. Googling “artist call for entries” will provide many options. Here are 3 that I’ve used in the past:
Free Calls, Entry Fees, & Prize Money
While some calls are free, many galleries these days partly subsidize their income by charging entry fees for an occasional rotation of group shows. It allows fresh work into their space and provides a mutual benefit to the artist’s national audience. However, be weary of any organization that seems in the game to cash in on the constant monthly entry fees. (See “Vanity Galleries” definition in Choosing The Right Art Gallery: What Kinds Of Galleries Are There? )
While exhibiting nationally can be great for building a resumé, it’s important to keep accumulative costs in mind. Spend your time (and money) wisely by submitting to shows that fit you and your work. Remember, if accepted, you still have to ship your work there and back. Keep track of these expenses for future budgeting/taxes/etc.
Additionally, some listings may have prize money that may be of interest.
Read The Rules
Once you’ve selected an exhibition that looks promising, spend some time looking over the submission requirements. One of the easiest ways that jurors disqualify entries is by dismissing candidates who don’t follow the procedure.
Things to pay special attention to: Submission deadline, payment process, image size/resolution/file requirements, number of entries, proper descriptions relating to an image, required information/documents, and preferred file name format.
*Pro Tip*: If they ask you to rename your images using a specific format, they mean it. Save a duplicate of your image in a special area rather than change the title of your original image. (Example: original file named SunlightOnJupiter.jpg might need to be changed to fit their preferred method… dgill1_painting.jpg.)
Artist Bio And Artist Statement
It’s not always the case, but you may find that an entry may need an Artist Bio and/or an Artist Statement. While those two things are related, they certainly aren’t the same thing. If you need help writing either of those, or you need a refresher on what makes them different, check out these links:
You can find more free articles like this on my Artist Resource page. My mission is to provide free and accessible tools for artists, educators, and enthusiasts. I encourage you to share and refer people here as often as you wish. Naturally, these articles take many hours to thoroughly research and write. If you’d like to support me as an artist and advocate, please consider donating whatever you can. Thank you!