Should You Enter Art Competitions?

Remember judges are just one opinion.

Are you wondering if you should enter art competitions? If you’ve been painting for a while you have undoubtedly become aware of the numerous art competitions to enter. Everything from local art contests to national juried competitions are available and plentiful.

Are Art Competitions Right For You?

You may be wondering if it’s worthwhile to enter these competitions. It depends on what you mean by worthwhile? Think about why you personally may want to enter your art in competitions.

There are two aspects to this, professional and personal.

Professional Reasons to Enter

1. Will it help your career?

Let’s tackle the professional question first. If you want to be represented by a gallery, or more galleries, then yes, in my experience I think it helps to have a list of competitions your art has been accepted into on your resume. Naturally the national juried competitions will hold more weight and even among those there is a sort or hierarchy. You can work your way up starting with local competitions. I have more information about finding the right competitions in my previous post.

Galleries like to see competitions because going through the process of entering competitions shows a certain amount of discipline. You are showing the gallery you take your art career seriously. Galleries want to represent artists whom they know will be around for a while and will consistently provide them with high quality work. It seems a simple thing but galleries probably don’t have much to go on as far as your professionalism and dedication except to look at your track record. Seeing competitions, other shows, even memberships to professional art organizations labels you as a serious artist.

Personal Reasons to Enter

2. Does it make you feel better or more worthwhile to be accepted into a contest?

If you are not hell bent on advancing your career, there are still other reasons to enter competitions. They can be fun and provide fellowship among fellow artists in your community. (Well, more fun when you get an acceptance letter or e-mail.) They are one way of measuring your work against others. Some may use it as a sort of ruler to judge their own work and to spur on improvement.

But, one must be careful not to look for competitions for validation of what they are doing. (Or worse, validation of oneself.) A judge is only one person with one opinion. Don’t be crushed by one rejection.

When to Stop Entering Competitions

And if your art making is becoming affected by what you think a judge might or might not accept, by all means stop entering contests. You don’t want to lose your voice. The world needs more of you, more original art makers.

I hope you have found some of these thoughts helpful. 

1 Comment

  1. March 16, 2015 / 4:49 pm

    Thanks, Joan, for this post. I seem to go through phases, where I think it’s worth my time, (and money) and where I think it’s a total waste…. Somehow though, I do keep on trying.

    When I get into some of the national shows it’s quite a thrill, I will say.

    I keep working at getting my work better and maybe someday I will understand and accomplish that level that satisfies me without worrying whether it is “accepted” or not.

    Now to read the previous post!…

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