Hey Creative Friend,
Let’s talk about the prep for entering art shows.
If you’ve been one of my creative friends for a while, you know I exhibit my artworks quite a bit and I’m currently managing a major exhibit which has taken one year to plan and will take another year to travel to the various venues.
Needless to say, it’s a lot of work planning these things, having a family and a life, simultaneously creating artworks, running your own art business, and showing up on social media. When you think of it, planning a traveling group art show is like planning a solo show on steroids.
Having said that, entering art shows is an excellent thing to do. Here are the reasons:
Reasons for Entering Art Shows
- Your artworks will be seen by a wider audience
- Viewers will appreciate seeing your artworks
- You may sell some pieces (if sales is important to you)
- You’ll receive feedback that will help you grow as an artist.
These are the main reasons artists continue to enter their works in shows. Click the link to learn more reasons why you need to show your artwork even if you’re not a professional
I’m entering my piece into the group exhibition that I’m curating. Don’t worry. We’ve got a distinguished juror who will be selecting the artworks which will eventually get into the show.
As I was saying, I wanted to enter my work into this show because I find the theme interesting and hey, I can’t be in charge of getting other people to submit entries for the show and not set a good example. Right?
Here’s the thing, though. When you decide to enter your work into a group exhibition you’ve got to follow the rules. Yes, there are rules for sure. It’s not like you can just pick one of your artworks and send it to be exhibited. Most shows have specific requirements in addition to the entry fees. For example, the show may have size restrictions, image guidelines, year created, artist statements and bios and many more.
Entering Art Shows:
A Short Video on The Art Piece I’m Preparing for Submission
Click to play the video
(Note: I took this video on my phone – the lighting isn’t that great and because of the orientation, it’s easier to watch it in full screen mode)
Well, let me tell you. This exhibition. “Rails, Roads, and Rivers” had a strict size restriction. Each piece entered into the show had to be exactly 30” x 40” either horizontally or vertically. What does this mean? You either create a piece this size for the specified theme or you make one of your older pieces fit this size.
I had a piece which was perfect for this theme but totally wrong in terms of its size. So, I had a choice to make – either create a completely new piece or make this older piece work. I chose to make the older piece work.
The Process for Entering Art Shows
Here’s what I had to do:
Step 1: Cut to fit
My piece which I made six years ago, originally measured 30” x 50”. This meant I needed to lose 10” of my precious artwork if I wanted to submit it into this exhibition. So, I decided where I wanted to make the cut and I did.
Step 2: Choose a Finishing Style
Since I made the cut on both sides it meant I had two raw edges. The next step was to decide how I was going to finish these two edges.
That took a little deliberation:
When I’d originally finished the edges of this pieces, I painstakingly matched the edges with the same fabric before binding it. I prefer not having a binding distract from the artwork. (Another way I could have done this to ensure the binding didn’t take away from the artwork is to use facings. Learn how to make facings here.)
There was one issue with matching the edges again this time. I no longer have the same fabrics to create a binding that matches my freshly cut edges.
Step 3: Decision to Mount on Wooden Frames
I decided that if I had to do the edges again, then this time, I’ll stretch the work on wooden frames. Some shows have restrictions on your finishing style. For this show it was okay to mount your work on frames. So, I purchased some loose stretcher bars.
Step 4: Create a Wooden Frame
Step 5: Sew Border Strips
Then, I had to make my textile piece ready for the frame. I sewed “border” strips to the four sides of my piece so I could wrap those strips around the frame. This way my textile art piece will remain intact – not damaged during the process of pulling and stapling to the frame.
Step 7: Attach Textile Artwork to Wooden Frames
Now comes the pulling and stapling of the border strips to the back of the frame. After stapling the textile work to the frame, I attached hardware – picture wire and hooks for hanging.
See how to attach the picture hardware in this post.
Step 8: Photograph the Artwork
Now, I had to set up my camera and lights to take photos of my artwork which will go along with my submission. Learn more about photographing your artwork here.
Step 9: Submit Your Entry
Finally, it’s time to do the actual entry submission online.
To submit your entry, you’ll need a few things. In addition to your personal information, you’ll need artwork information which will include:
- the artwork title
- artwork size, and
- an artist statement (not always required)
- an image of your artwork – (usually for textile art shows : two images. One for the full artwork and another image of an interesting detail on the piece)
What is an artist statement?
An artist statement for a piece of artwork is simply the story behind the artwork. It can include your inspiration and the point you wish to make with that piece of work.
If the show for which you’re entering your piece has a theme, you want to make sure your statement aligns with that theme.
I wrote a statement for this piece when I originally created it and it aligns with the show. So that was already taken care of.
Here’s my artist statement for “Limelights”
“Limelights” explores our life journeys – the stops, intersections and many pieces which together make up this journey. Each piece in this artwork is a part of that journey. “Limelights” surveys the many questions we grapple with, the decisions we make, how we’re transported to where we currently are in our life. What’s the story behind the story? When the lime lights are focused on this life journey, what can we expect to see? That’s what the lime colored headlights on the vehicle in this art piece is questioning.
When you’ve got all of that taken care of, then you have to pay the entry fee for the show.
As you can see, this whole entering art shows business can be a process. It does get easier with practice and some good organization, though.
However, the point is, the cost of entering your work into shows is not just the price of the entry fee. It involves multiple steps which include making sure you meet all the requirements as stipulated by the show coordinators.
This is why it’s important to pick and choose which shows you enter your work into. When you consider all the prep needed for entering art shows, you’ll realize that not all shows will serve you well. For that reason, you need to figure out for yourself which shows will serve you well and take a stand for what is best for you.
I consider my options before entering art shows. I’ve managed this particular show – Local Color – for years. I know that the venues that the exhibits travel to are excellent. So, it’s worth the extra work to get my work into the show here.
If my piece gets selected, that’ll be a wonderful opportunity for me to show my work to a wider audience in the company of this talented group of artists.
When entering art shows, have you ever asked yourself if a show is right for you before submitting your work?
You may also be interested in this post: How to Gallery Wrap Textile Art on Frames
Get behind the scenes and learn more about my art practice, events, exhibitions and release of new artworks
Also published on Medium.