Guest blogger: Debby L. Williams
Are you responding to Calls for Entry? If you’re having success with them, then good for you! If you would like to know what might be going wrong, read on.
Call for Entry is used here to include any request for artists to submit information to compete for art exhibitions, contests, or commissions (e.g. Request for Qualifications or Request for Proposals). There are differences among those types of competitions, but let’s start at the very basics: how to evaluate a Call and decide if you should respond.
You’ll find an overwhelming number of Calls for artists on the Internet. You can’t possibly respond to all the ones you come across – nor would you want to. So how do you decide?
Remember that as an artist your assets are your creativity and investment in time and money. This is always your first consideration. Ask yourself: “Is responding to this Call and ultimately this project worth my creative capital, time, and resources? Does it help me get to where I want to go professionally?”
To help you decide, consider these additional questions.
- Is the work produced for the exhibition/competition relevant to your present body of work? Curators, gallery representative and buyers will most likely remember your name and associate it with a medium, subject and/or style. The work you create in response to a Call should be reasonably within those parameters so it will make sense to the public and the work will fit into your portfolio.
- If you were chosen to participate, does being in that exhibition/creating that work of art fit with your career plan (you know, that plan that is there to keep you on track to get you where you want to go)? You must have those art and business plans in place as your map for your art career journey and the project you are considering needs to keep you on that road. Don’t be distracted by shiny things in the distance.
- Is the scale (physical size) of the requested work appropriate for the work you are creating at this time? If you typically create miniatures, this may not be the best time to respond to a project for designing enhancements for a bridge over six lanes of traffic! It is harder to estimate your expenses and time for a project of such a different scale and the jurors may quickly dismiss your submission because of your lack of experience with such projects.
- Does the timeline fit reasonably within the time parameters you have to work in and allow you to maintain the quality of your work? Sometimes it is easy to convince yourself that a project is doable even while knowing the delivery date is during a month that you have five other deadlines and several important personal commitments. It is important to view the time element realistically.
- Does the amount of the commission or prize/award make it financially feasible? Have you considered all of your expenses? This is imperative! It can be very seductive to see a large prize or commission and want to immediately respond to the Call, but you have to stop and really consider the cost of the project. Think twice before being willing to sacrifice a proper artist’s fee for the art you create.
These tips for evaluating Calls for Entry are based on my experiences working with artists and writing Calls for Entries for many years. And while there are always exceptions, these are important considerations that can help you make good choices about how to use your talents, time and resources.
After you have decided to respond to that Call for Entries, then what? Stay tuned. My next post will address that question!
About the Guest Blogger
Debby L. Williams is the Director of Oklahoma Art in Public Places. She's been a curator, museum director, and arts administrator and loves a good (or bad) martini. Debby is my partner for new live workshops for beginning artists.