Tag Archives: art

20 tips for entering art competitions

HELLO I am terribly sorry for being quiet for the past 2 months as I have been terribly busy finishing finals as well as taking a holiday. Now like every summer I enjoy entering art competitions and I came across these very useful tips courtesy of

20 tips for entering art competitions

What do you need to know when thinking about entering an art competition.
Here’s twenty tips – what are yours?
  1. Aim for a good fit between your work and the competition. It’s a complete waste of time, effort and entry fees to submit to competitions which are not a good fit with your artwork. It’s wise to do some research before you start to create an entry. If possible, I always try and see an open exhibition first before submitting work – partly to see what sort of work gets hung but also to decide whether my work is, or could be, a good fit. Another goord reason for researching the competition is to understand its purpose and to see whether again it’s something that you’d want to be associated with
  2. Be yourself. Genuinely innovative work or work which provides a ‘new look’ and a different way of creating art is like a breath of fresh air. ‘Being yourself’ AND ‘being different’ can often get your work noticed. This may sound as if it contradicts the first point. However there’s a lot of difference between being aware of what a competition is about and the sort of work it attracts and copying what seems to be popular. Do not do the latter – make your work your own.
  3. Research the chances of getting selected. Undoubtedly it’s a terrific boost for your artist’s CV if you can get selected for a major competition. Even better if you win. However many people act on this notion and as a result some competitions attract a huge number of entries while only hanging a relatively small proportion. Numbers are often mentioned in calls for entries (or on this blog!) and it’s often possible to work out what are the chances of getting picked. The bad news – if you submit to some competitions you have a 97% chance of being rejected. The good news – you’ll be in very good company if you are and be able to boast big time if you do get selected.
    • In 2007, 3.21% of entries were selected. In 2009, the percentage has dropped to 2.95%
    • In very broad terms, the chances of being selected are 3 in 100.
  1. Only submit eligible artwork by an eligible artist. This means you MUST Read the terms and conditions of the ‘call for entries’ at the beginning very carefully. Then read it again. Read once more just before you submit to make sure you got it right. You’d be surprised how many people make very simple mistakes – such as framing work and then realising that it exceeds the size limits! Given the trend towards internationalisation, it’s wise to check whether a competition is genunely open to all or whether entry is limited (eg to artists who live and work in the UK).
  2. Check the copyright arrangements. It has been known for some art competitions(naming no names but they know who they are!) to equate entry to the competition with the release of ownership and copyright of that image by the artist. The organisations that do this very often keep this fact in the small print and don’t make it obvious. This is just plain WRONG on all sorts of counts. Frankly from my perspective this sort of arrangement ranks pretty close to exploitation (and I do name and shame when I come across examples). It certainly is when the competition is effectively disguising a cost-cutting measure (ie avoiding making a fee payment to an artist in the normal way). Any use of an image outside an exhibition should ALWAYS be the subject of an appropriate payment. There is also no legitimate reason whatsoever to give up copyright at all as licensing arrangements can release works for specific purposes. For example illustrators rarely give up copyright even when working on commission.
  3. Check the security/insurance arrangements. If you are submitting highly valued/priced work you will probably want to be confident it’s not going to walk out the door. Competitions vary as to the insurance cover they provide while it is in an exhibition. An annual insurance policy which covers artwork in exhibitions can be a real asset should anything untoward actually happen. Is it clear from the terms and conditions of entry, who carries the liability and responsibility for an exhibition. Is it the gallery or the organisation?
  4. Work out what’s the time and cost involved in submitting your work. If it’s a national competition, shipping or travel costs associated with submission might be very expensive. However also be aware that quite a few national art society compeititons have regional pick-up points and this can make a big difference to the costs of submission.
  5. Create a timetable for getting the work submitted - and don’t forget to include some contingency time for things going wrong.
  6. Make sure you can get your work framed correctly. Book your framer well in advance. Do not assume that they can turn around your frames in the time you’ve allowed. Remember that framers do have holidays! I’ll never forget the August that I couldn’t find a framer who could do my framing in time for exhibition deadlines! Some competitions are very specific as to the type of framing they will allow. There are also ‘styles’ of framing which can get you excluded from selection – and I’ve seen it happen. However styles vary from place to place. In London, neutral and minimal impact framing is the current favoured format – with the emphasis on seeing the artwork rather than being distracted by the frame.
  7. Make sure you submit top notch digital images. Organisations running art competitions are often criticised for the expenses involved relative to the chances of a successful submission. One of the ways they can cut costs is to ask for initial submissions by digital image. The importance of good scanning/photography, colour balance and cropping images accurately is often highlighted when you get a chance to see entries online. It’s a good idea to either employ a photographer or get better at taking photographs and then preparing/presenting them for submission
  8. Check out the jurors. Is your work likely to be a good fit with the art they appear to like? For example, if you paint traditional realism and they appear to like cutting edge contemporary there may well be a problem!
  9. Remember selection is personal! By which I mean that not getting selected does NOT mean your art is no good. It just means that it just didn’t appeal to this particular juror or panel in this particular year. I’ve seen artwork rejected from one competition win top awards in the next competition it gets submitted to. Ask Jeff George CPSA - one of his pieces weas submitted to the CPSA Open in 2008 and was not selected but he resubmitted it the next year and it won the major prize at CPSA 2009!
    1. Think about what gets artwork noticed. Bear in mind that selection processes tend to be a lot faster than most artists realise. You have a few seconds to make an impression – and that is generally going to be from a distance rather than up close to the image in question. The design of an artwork and the contrast it employs makes a huge difference when artwork is viewed as a digital image or very quickly during a juried selection process. Size also may play a part – see my post Juried art competitions – does size matter?
    • Exhibitions are often held in rooms a great deal bigger than the ones we produce our work in. Pictures which ‘carry’ across a distance have impact.
    • Larger paintings often have more impact – they’re much more difficult to ignore
    • Artists want to make a statement and have an impact in a juried competition – so produce work which is larger and more significant than maybe the size they usually use
    • Some might suggest producing bigger work is a shortcut to getting noticed – take a look at this BBC item about larger works of art Arts gets bigger and bigger
    • Larger paintings tend to have a higher value. On the the basis of “high value=good painting” that presumably makes bigger paintings better.(I’m not saying this is true – just that it may well be an implicit assumption in some people’s minds)
    • If a juror is also the gallery owner collecting the commission if the piece sells, one might hesitate to think there could also be some incentive to awarding prizes to larger pieces – but it’s got to be a possibility!
    1. Only submit your best work. It sounds obvious – however to know which is your best work you need to have some feedback from people who are equipped to comment and people you can trust. If submitting more than one work submit a body of strong and consistent work. think about the added benefit of a series or a group of works which relate well in terms of topic and palette and the overall calibre of the work. The chances of getting your work are enhanced if you demonstrate that you’re not just a ‘one trick pony’. Remember though that one weak work can harm the chances of the other work submitted and one standout piece of work can also do the same – for different reasons!
    2. Check out the location of the exhibition (gallery / website / journal). The issue here is about whether your work is actually going to get seen. For example try finding out the answers to these questions.
      • Is this a reputable gallery? Does it generate a good attendance at the Private View
      • Is it in a good location? Does it get a good footfall (number of passersby?). How accessible is it? Are there problems with parking?
      • Is there an online version of the exhibition? An exhibition doesn’t have to be in a B&M gallery to be seen. (One of the other advantages of online exhibitions is that you can also check out the work in last year’s exhibition!)
    3. Research prices and consider price points. There’s nothing worse than having your pricing completely pitched wrong for the area, the gallery and the calibre of the company you are keeping if you get selected. It’s very helpful if you can get hold of catalogues for previous exhibitions to see what the range of prices look like. This is again where a visit to an exhibition in an advance of entering a compeition can be such a good idea.
    4. Don’t expect to make any money. Treat any profit after costs as a nice windfall. Do not expect to sell your work (and not all competitions handle sales in any case). Do not expect to make a profit (after you’ve paid out for exhibition framing; entry fee; shipping costs, commission on sale etc.). Very many artists look on art competitions are a marketing exercise and charge up the costs to their marketing budget.
    5. Keep a list of things to remember to do next time! Every time I’m getting ready for an exhibition, something prompts the thought “must remember that for next time”. I didn’t think it possible – but it is!
    6. Keep a box of exhibition essentials. Mine contains: brown sticky tape for taping down frames, a jar oif different sized D rings and associated screws, my foam core cutter and a jumbo pack of spare blades for my Logan mat cutter. I’ve also got a store of spare foam core, full sheets of neutral mountboard and a can of comnpressed air to clean frame and work prior to sealing into the frame
    7. Attend exhibitions associated with juried entry and major art competitions. It’s a wonderful way of learning what is possible!

Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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the final 6 – digital media

please enjoy the slideshow of the final 6 images i selected from my digital media sketchbook. i hope you have enjoyed following my progress.


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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 19

here is the final part of the digital media development sketchbook. i hope you have enjoyed looking into my digital sketchbook.


a short slideshow will be used for this post with a selection of small projects for this where i just developed one single image without the use of creating filters.

a whole manner of techniques has been used for these images (too long to list) but they are all taken from the photo filter, gradient mapping, HDR toning, the layers selections and also the filter gallery within Photoshop CS5

here is one last technique i used which is the HDR toning. this can be accessed via image>adjustments>HDR toning. an example is shown below:


and now here is the slideshow

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 18

part 18 of my digital media sketchbook



for this part of the sketchbook i thought it would be a good idea to mix two portraits together. the background is the doubled over portrait with the focal point being the lady in glasses.

 the first development done with the layers selected ‘difference’ here is really nice and i like how the portraits eye in the background looks as though they are the ‘all seeing eye’ and protecting the lady who has come across as quite african looking because of the long slender neck and large necklace. the colours do mix well but i feel they are too vibrant.

 from the above image i used the ‘cutout’ tool from the filters selection just to add a different affect but unfortunately it was unsuccessful although it has tamed down the colours and are not as powerfully bright.

 i later used the gradient map on top of the ‘difference’ image and the bright colours makes the image look too busy; it shows a level of abstraction as well of which i am not too fond of as the portraits initially used before development were already abstract.


here i used a different shade on the gradient map from the previous ‘difference’ image. the chosen shade for this is the orange and red; now i know i complained about the image ‘being too bright’ a few comments above but for these i actually think the brightness works well. yes it is overpowering and yes it hurts your eyes but the colours are vibrant and summery as well as i just simply cannot stop looking at them.

 i decided to go a completely different way with this and decided to transform the ‘difference’ image to black and white using the filters gallery for the graphic pen effect. out of all the above images this is just simply the most successful. there are no colour tones to clash the portraits and there is also a sophisticated feel to the image as thought the ‘african’ lady is a model for vogue.



Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 17

part 17 of the digital media sketchbook


for this post i have decided to use another self portrait and also a mixed media piece of a train tunnel

 in my usual style the ‘difference’ tool has been used from the layers selection. the image would have been successful if the the face had not been completely hidden away especially as the effects of the background have worked nicely into the rest of the portrait.

from the difference image i then went on to use the gradient map as usual but the red completely overpowers the whole image resulting in both the background and the portrait a difficulty to make out.

 therefore here i chose a different angle for the gradient map on the ‘difference’ image by using the orange and purple tones. once again unfortunately the yellow tint added around the hair seems to take the image over and i am unable to make out the portrait.


sadly this part 17 experiment was a failed attempt.

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 16

here is part 16 of the sketchbook work for my digital media class. almost finished with three more posts to go.


here i have chosen two very dark images to use together. the core of a pomegranate for the background and an abstract self portrait.

  here i used the difference tool (as usual) from the layers list. the portrait is not recognisable on this and i actually find myself trying to figure out what parts go where and i already know what the image is seeing as it is my art work. the pomegranate clearly takes over and disguises the portrait.

  i then decided to change the layer option to ‘lighten’ of which brings the portrait to the front and becomes a very clear with the pomegranate adding a nice texture to the left side of the face almost replicating a leopard tattoo. much more successful than the above image.

 from the above lighten image i then used the gradient map (once again ‘as usual’) and a lovely tint of different shades of brown have been added to the piece. the portrait really stands out and the pomegranate ‘leopard’ print is very prominent but adds a lovely touch.

 i attempted the ‘lighten’ in a different gradient map tone this time with the orange and blue. very abstract and stands to attention but once again i feel the pomegranate is taking over the face and not in a subtle way which dampens my expectations for this project.

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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 15

continuation of my digital media sketchbook part 15.


here i chose an architectural piece made using  technique and also a self abstract portrait.

 here i used the difference option within the filters selection. The development here has brought out a lovely purple shade amongst the right side of the face and displays a strong and dark demeanour.

   here i used the lighten option from the layers selection and with this one you are able to see the portrait more clearly although i do feel that it is quite bland and boring to the eye unlike the above ‘difference’ image.

   taken from the above ‘lighten’ image i developed it further by using the gradient map tool. I like the fact that i am still able to see that the portrait is prominent as well as the architectural background thanks to the lighter colours.

 this is also a gradient map image taken from the ‘lighten’ image. i find this to be the most successful of the above – it brings a vintage feel to the image because of the brown tint and also makes the image more fine art related rather than a digital image.

 Also taken from the ‘lighten’ image I used the green and blue gradient map for this creation. I am very fond of this due to the vibrant colour tones however it is unclear to make out fully that this is a portrait.

  once again taken from the ‘lighten’ image a fourth development using the gradient map tool is shown above. the portrait of this is much more prominent to the eye unlike the previous image above but for some reason i am not keep on the colour mix with orange and purple; it does not seem to stand out and the detail of the background is unclear.

 this is the second last one taken from the ‘lighten’ image and has been created using the underwater theme within the photo filter selection. with this selection you are able to recognize the portrait straight away of which is what i am aiming for within this project. the opacity of the portrait is quite low and mixes well into the background.

  last addition from the ‘lighten’ creation i then decided to play with the filter gallery. i came to the plaster technique here and the image could almost be an advertisement for a gangsta movie as the background reminds me of a busy highway thanks to the dark shadings and the eye catching portrait is strong.

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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 14

part fourteen of my continuation of the digital media sketchbook.


here for part fourteen of the digital media work i have chosen an archway created in acrylics and oil pastels to be the background and also a self portrait in oils as the main topic.

 firstly as I usually begin the development process using some options from the layers box. The difference tool was used on here and I like the fact that the portrait looks to be hiding behind the archway and is also placed within the centre immediately bringing the portrait to being the focal point.

  taken from the above ‘difference’ image I edited it slightly by using the graphic pen effect taken from the sketch option of the filter gallery. It has given the image an eerie old movie effect because of the grain.

  I used the lighten tool from the layers selection and i feel it has helped the the portrait and detail of the archway to be more visible.

  gr -1              gr -2

from the above ‘lighten’ image i took the image further and used the gradient mapping tool for these creations. gr -1 is of the blue tint and seems quite bland as the tone of one colour all over just does not give the image positive justice; gr -2 on the other hand was used with an orange and blue tint and is much more striking to the eye as the colours are mixed well together, bold and bright.

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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 12

a continuation of my digital media sketchbook


here is a printmaking piece of a flower which shall be the background of the portrait sketch above.

 the difference tool was obviously used first here and i like the spotted pebbled look that the technique has given to the background. i also like how the background has added deeper detail to the portraits skin and the overall colours mix brilliantly together.

 I then edited the ‘difference’ image further by using the tones of yellow via the gradient map tool. the flower in the background makes the portrait look as though she has butterfly wings. The use of one colour has created an overall abstract feel and almost looks as though the image was made with sand.

 I had also edited the ‘difference’ image with the photo filter. I chose an orange filter to shadow the image and I feel that this has highly improved the attractiveness of this work. not too dark but enough to give the portrait an air of mystery.

the photo filter can be accessed via here: -




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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Digital media development LO2 part 11

a continuation to the developmental sketchbook of my digital media


here i chose a textiles piece i sketched up to use as the potential background and the self portrait of myself which is slightly demonic.

 I used the lighten layer from the selection available under the layers box. I really like the effect it has managed to achieve here with a soft hippy floral feel. I really like how the portrait has morphed into the flowers but has remained the focal point.

  This was done by using the vivid light from the layers selections as well. unfortunately this one was not so successful – too dark and the reds have been over-used; it is also quite hard to make out the portrait because of the high contrast.

 taken from the above vivid light i decided to improve it somehow and lighten the high contrast. Therefore i used reticulation fond under the filter gallery within the sketch section. This has vastly improved the image as the portrait is more noticeable and the red is softer.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


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