Guest blogger: Debby L. Williams
Calls for Entry look promising at first. When you find one that piques your interest, read the details carefully. No, really. READ THEM CAREFULLY.
You need to understand the basic parameters of the contest, competition or commission. When you find one worth pursuing, use the following questions to find the answers for a successful submission.
1. Are you eligible?
Call guidelines might specify parameters from professional status to place of residency. Double-check. If necessary, contact the organization that put out the Call to verify your eligibility.
2. Is there a restriction on the number of works you can submit?
For competitions or exhibitions, you might be allowed a single entry or as many as ten or more. Think about how that works for you and the body of work that you have (or don’t have) on hand or can create.
3. Is there a fee to enter?
Is that a flat fee or a charge per number of works submitted? If there is a fee, be certain that it is a good investment for you – especially if there are other expenses, such as shipping, that you’re responsible for.
4. How does the calendar fit with your present commitments?
What are delivery and pick-up dates? What is the deadline to submit a response? Is that a postmark or received-by date? Do you respond electronically, by regular post, or by delivering your work?
If the entry is by mail, you have to build sufficient time into your schedule – preferably getting your submission there at least a few days in advance. If you are relying on the Internet or an electronic means of submission, allow for the possibility of technical difficulties. It happens!
5. Are there awards or commissions?
Obviously, awards are good whether they are monetary or honorary, but they aren’t the sole reason for entering. You can still benefit from participating in a contest or competition without receiving an award or commission by gaining exposure and experience. Whatever the case, know what to expect from the project.
6. If your accepted artwork would be included in an exhibition, is it required to be for sale?
Be certain you understand the details of any sales (e.g. commissions).
If you are submitting a response for a commission, there are many other considerations that must be weighed for such a long-term commitment. Time, budget and logistics are just the starting point.
7. If it is a juried show, does the Call or website tell you who the juror is?
Is a qualified art person judging your artwork? Not everyone on a committee needs to be an art professional, but hopefully at least one arts professional is included.
Sometimes organizations don’t know specifically who the jurors are, but they should tell you how they are selected. I’d rethink paying an entrance fee to any organization that can’t or won’t tell you who the juror is.
8. Are the insurance provisions acceptable?
It is common for you to be responsible for insuring your work covered while it is in your possession and being delivered. However, when you leave your artwork with an organization, generally it is they who would be responsible for keeping it safe, free from damage, and insured.
9. Are there any special terms and/or conditions?
Carefully read and make sure you understand the terms and can live with them. For example, does the organization have the right to use your artwork on posters, T-shirts, or note cards? It sure would be a shock to see images of your art mass-produced without your consent! Oh, right, you gave your consent by agreeing to the terms. Oops.
The above questions will help you sort through the fine print in a Call for Entry. Once you know the answers, you can get down to the nitty-gritty of preparing a response.
The most common Call for Entry asks for:
• Cover letter
• Artist statement
• Approximately 10 images of your work on a CD or uploaded to a submission site
• Annotated list identifying the images
I’ll go over these items in future posts.
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 is a master cake decorator. Seriously. And she seriously likes the word seriously. Debby is my partner for the Art Biz Lift Off workshop in Lewes, Delaware on April 28-29, 2012.