The Mrs.” by Heather Arenas, oil on birch


Don't eliminate yourself from the race before it's started.

Having been a juror for several national shows and membership drives, artist Heather Arenas weighs in on the best practices for submitting to juried art shows.

Some of these tips may seem obvious to some artists, but they continue to escape others.  

You could be throwing your money away if you pay to enter a show but don't take the extra time to give the jury something usable. Make sure you stay in the game by following these tips.

Here is what a jury looks for in a submission:


Crop your images down to the artwork itself

Having part of an easel in your photograph may make the composition better, but you should avoid including outside objects. Only include what you are being judged on — the painting (or other artwork).

Don't include yourself standing next to your artwork, parts of the background, the door to your studio or even the sliver that shows that it wasn't cropped straight.

You might be surprised at the number of submissions that have the artists thumb in the shot because they had to hold the painting with one hand and the camera with the other. Don’t be that person.

Lastly, the frame is not your art — crop the frame out as well.

Colorful Subject” by Heather Arenas, oil on birch


Include your watermark in the image

While watermarks have their place and time,  avoid including an image with your name across the middle of the painting.

“We are judging the painting, not your Photoshop skills”

It is also best if your signature is discreet. Some competitions require that no signature be present at all, so make sure to read the prospectus carefully.



Submit a clear photo

It is also disappointing for a jury to receive a painting that they could assume is wonderful, but they can't see the brushwork because it's blurry.

There are several tutorials on photographing your work out there. If you don't have the right equipment, pay someone to do it for you.

It may not be cost effective at first, but consider if you will want to make prints of your artwork later when making this decision.



Keep your portfolio consistent

If you are submitting more than one piece, the pieces should be similar in subject or medium — if not both. Submitting a pencil drawing with oil paintings or, worse yet, a painting with sculptures in order to show that you are a multi-talented artist rarely accomplishes that goal.

Most artists are more proficient in one medium over another. Jurors want to see consistency. They just want to know that you are not merely a one-hit wonder. Show them that you can recreate your work with the same level of skill again and again.  

If you submit figurative work, a still life, and a landscape, it doesn’t give the jury a clear idea of the subject matter that interests you. You know better than anyone what you like to create — present that to the jurors.

All Else Falls Away” by Heather Arenas, oil on birch

When you only get one shot, make it the best shot you can deliver.

If your goal is to have the reputation as a serious or professional artist, it is imperative that you present your work in that way. Take the extra time to give yourself a fighting chance.

One way to present your work professionally is to sign up for Artwork Archive. Store, organize and generate professional reports easily with the free 30-day trial.