some observations from a juror

Lodiza LePore

last week i think it was, i had the distinct pleasure of jurying my first exhibition and might i say it was exhilarating! i love it. i’m hooked. but it was also a fascinating experience being on the other side of the application, looking at what other artists do. i’ve worked very hard to create a professional presence. not having attended art school, i’ve always felt behind the eight ball when it comes to the business of art and to compensate, i study, read and research all the time to make sure i’m meeting the expectations of other art professionals and hoping to stand on equal footing with those professionally trained. what i learned from this jurying experience is that my assumptions were wrong.

most of the issues i witnessed in the submissions i reviewed i’ve seen spoken about over and over again on other blogs, in books, etc. they seemed like givens to me and in the back of my head, i though “who would do this?”. evidently, quite a few. i know that those who read my blog would never do this, but just to be on the safe side, or if by accident some newbie stumbles across this post, here are some observations which will hopefully improve your chances.

please make sure to use the appropriate file labeling as specified in the call. DSC-001.jpg tells a juror absolutely nothing about who’s work it is. how am i going to pick your work from that? seriously. if a juror is slammed with responses for a call, i can tell you they probably aren’t going to take the time to sort out who’s file that is. it will be automatically tossed out. for that matter, follow ALL instructions with respect to images, be it size, format, whatever.

did you really want to submit a photo of work which is dirty, creased, stained with ink splotches, taped to the wall with masking tape, poorly lit, etc? is that really putting your best foot forward? when there are other people, presenting professional level work and photos, do you really expect the juror to choose your poorly handled and represented work?

did you actually read the call? is the work your submitting in line with what is the topic or theme of the exhibition? i realize that there is a degree of interpretation involved when trying to decipher calls. i’m doing that myself right now with an rfp for an exhibition. but if the call is for portraits and you’re submitting landscapes, you’re throwing your money away. i don’t care how beautiful your work is.

if the call is asking for details on the pieces, e.g. the size and medium, please, please, please provide it. the juror and venue actually do need to know the sizes of work. a 48″ x 60″ piece takes up a lot more room than a 12″ x 12″, and wall space is not infinite. if the juror has to track you down to find out how big a piece is, and there are plenty of other submissions which will suit equally as well with the specifications provided, you’ll probably be eliminated. if you really want to do it right, submit the information as a pdf in a simple, detailed image list noting each file name, name of piece, medium, dimensions, year and any other pertinent information requested.

know your limitations – know what work you’ve committed for what time frames and don’t double book. this is a juried exhibition, and i doubt any juror is going to allow substitutions. and offering prints as a substitute? really? that’s unprofessional and is going to earn you a bad reputation.

i’m assuming that you love your work. do it justice. present it well. don’t half ass it.


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  • Holliewould

    Well I tried to understand this rant but I’m not a professional artist and the lingo escapes me. You may not have been trained in this field by a governing institution, but you clearly know the ins and outs of professional artistic submissions. I would love for you to see my artwork for criticism one day. My mediums are napkins, bathroom stall doors, my own hand, and if I have a nice edge to whatever tool or utensil is in my hand, then I will carve into whatever bar I’m sitting at.

  • Holliewould

    I forgot to add filthy cars. Who doesn’t love to art up a dirty assed car!!!

  • i have a friend who works or has worked in #2 pencils, rolls of toilet paper, coffee filters and cotton balls. she’s won numerous impressive awards and her work blows my mind. i also know a guy who let his kids draw on their car as they pleased and it in itself was a work of art. (it just died, but i suggested the kids be given paint for the replacement. how fun would that be!?!) honestly, hollie, i think medium is irrelevant. but really, think about it. if you were submitting a resume for a job, regardless of how excited or not you were to get hired, would you show up with a filthy, coffee stained, ink smeared, wrinkled copy of your resume for your potential future employers to review? the lingo is nothing more than what every juror and curator is asking the artist to submit and if you want to get picked, you’re going to learn it. and from what i’ve heard, they don’t teach you that in art school any more than they teach you how to manage your finances.

  • Enjoyed hearing from the juror’s perspective, Natalie. I made sure to pay for a consultation with a seasoned artist in order to avoid many of the mistakes you mentioned here. Some of it is common sense of course, but the parts on labeling/presenting your images is a new skill set for me and this served as a good reminder of the importance of doing it right. Thank you for taking the time. BTW, I love the work you are doing – if you are ever in Waynesville look me up – would love to meet ya.

  • hi, teri! thank you so much for your comment. i’m glad that you found it helpful. i think it’s really important to just really go over the call with a fine tooth comb and know as much as you can know. if you have questions, ask! it’s the sign of a professional and someone who takes their work seriously. and until you’re comfortable, i would just have a fellow artist review the guidelines and your submission before you send it off. with some calls, for example applying for a regional artist grant, check with the organization to see if they’re review your submission. especially with written materials, they are typically happy to look it over and give feedback. and again, you’re establishing a relationship with that organization. new skill sets can always be challenging and in some cases intimidating, but you can do it. i had to teach myself all of these things too, so it seems only right to pass it on.

    i’ll be starting a residency in a month and part of my plan is to really start blogging regularly. although, you know what they say, i’ve got a whole bunch of topics lined up which might be of interest, so please check back!

    and do you mean waynesville, nc? we head up to cullowhee for a long weekend whenever we can get away. thank you so much for the kind words about my work. if you end up coming down to charlotte from april to mid-august, let me know. i’ll be at the mccoll center working, and i’ll have fabulous stuff to show you!