Should I enter juried art exhibitions?

Me with my painting "Ending Summer" at the "Exhale" juried show hosted by Art House Productions in Jersey City, NJ
Me with my painting “Ending Summer” at the “Exhale” juried show hosted by Art House Productions in Jersey City, NJ

Juried shows are a source of frustration among artists. You enter a competition only to be rejected without ever knowing the reason why you weren’t accepted. The worst part is you’re out the non-refundable entry fee. The first juried art show I entered was held at a well-funded organization with a very nice exhibition space. It cost me $45 to join the organization and another $40 to enter the show. This seemed like a high price but I figured it would be worth it to see my paintings in that gallery space. My work was NOT accepted and I was out a total of $85. I quickly realized that this approach was financially prohibitive.

Based on this experience, I changed my strategy and began entering only juried shows that are FREE. I’m willing to make an exception and pay a membership fee to join an arts organization that offers benefits aside from the juried show. For example, I joined an arts group that has painting and social events where I can network with other artists. The juried show is an additional benefit.

Why should I enter a juried show

A juried show can have many benefits (see “How entering juried shows helps your art career” below) but the main reason to enter is the opportunity to exhibit your work.

How do I find juried shows to enter

You can try these two websites. They both list national exhibitions but can be filtered to include territories that are near you.

https://artshow.com/juriedshows/

https://www.entrythingy.com/forartists_calls

These websites are helpful but I’ve rarely found free juried shows that were appropriate to my work. I’ve had more success by researching local art groups that host juried shows.

When you find an exhibition that works for you be aware that there’s usually a theme and the hosting organization requires submitting the following:

  1. Jpgs of your artwork
  2. An artist bio
  3. An artist statement that explains how your work fits the theme of the show
  4. Occasionally, some will ask for a CV or artist resume

The above is important and time-consuming. Your images should have a professional look and follow the file naming conventions stated in the exhibition prospectus. Your bio should be well thought out and follow the industry standard. Additionally, your artist statement should be well-written and concise. If your CV looks anemic, I suggest skipping that exhibit until you gain more exhibition experience.

Do your research! Look online for previous years juried shows. Evaluate the artwork that was accepted. Does your work fit in with the others that were accepted? If you’re an abstract painter and previously accepted works were all photorealistic, this may not be the venue for you. But if it’s free, take a chance!

How entering juried shows helps your art career

  • It gives you the opportunity to exhibit your work
  • You gain exposure for you and your work
  • You can add the exhibition to your artist’s resume
  • It giives you the opportunity to compare your work to other artists’ work
  • A collector may buy your art
  • It’s an opportunity to network with artists, curators and collectors

Summary

  1. Only enter juried shows that are FREE
  2. Juried shows give you the opportunity to exhibit your work
  3. You will need good pictures of your work, an artist bio and statement and possibly an CV/artist’s resume to enter
  4. These exhibitions have additional benefits that can help your art career.
  5. Finally, learn to take rejection because it will happen

What are your experiences with juried shows? Please share them in the comments.

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