Thursday, December 23, 2010

Searhing AOM for you Medium

Dear AOM: There are few shows in AOM are for watercolors ... and no show seemed be calling for work such as mine, which is personal rather than typical, as you can see by the example in the AOM Gallery. --A Subscriber

Dear Sub,

You are right that listings strictly for watercolor -- those in the section called Watercolor and Watermedia -- are usually for work that is more academic than yours. This will tend to be true when the jurors have NWA or NWS after their names.

But in each issue of AOM, there are dozens of other shows that accept all sorts of watercolors, even give them prizes. Start by looking in the top section, All Media. Each entry marked "All" or "2D" potentially accepts water media. Then use Adobe Reader's Full search function to find those marked "2D" works "on paper", as well as those marked WM or WC but which are in the Various Media or other sections.

Here's what I found in the December issue:

All: 72
2D: 28
on paper: 4
WC: 11
WM: 5

That's a total of 120. Now, some of those are duplicates; i. e., one call lists more than one of them, such as listing both WC and WM. And some are things you might not be interested in right now, such as residencies or fellowships or curatorial calls. But that still leaves a huge number of potential opps that will accept watercolors.

You can read through each quickly to see if it is worth investigating further. For instance, you would quickly eliminate those looking for a subject matter or theme outside what you have or are interested in. If the call passes that test, go to the website sponsoring the show and see if there is a real reason your work might not fit, such as it being abundantly clear from the images that their aesthetic or philosophy is antithetical to yours, completely different in some meaningful way. Remember, though, that you can't tell what a juror will like based on his or her work. Some will prefer work that is quite different, some will prefer work that is sort of the same and some will try to "mix it up" for the show, picking what they think represents a good variety.

And everything about watercolor above applies to any other medium.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Camargo Foundation Suspends Fellowship Program

The Camargo Foundation has recently issued a press release announcing the suspension of its fellowship program for the 2011-2012 academic year and is not currently accepting applications. It had been awarding 1 semester fellowships in Cassis, France, to complete a specific project. These included a studio, apartment and $2.5 stipend.

Information about a renewed program will be available in October 2011.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Heavy-Duty Spammer

An outfit from Scottsdale, Arizona, that calls itself Xanadu Gallery has been spamming artists whose email addresses are on the Web. The spam is titled: "Boston Artists' Workshop | Learn How to Get into Galleries and Sell Your Art." It claims to be about "an exclusive marketing seminar in Boston." We got more than a dozen copies, to our various addresses, including those on forms and reserved for specific purposes such as subscriber upload of images.

The owner, J. Jason Horejs, has used "scraper" or "spambot"software to copy all email address from our site -- and other artist or art-related sites probably -- whether they belong to artists, art organizations, municipalities, state governments, universities or churches, and no matter where in the world located. He apparently cannot distinguish Boston from Bosnia from Botswana nor artists from State Purchasing Agencies.

Yet the seminar he is offering promises to teach artists how to "take your art career to the next level and start selling your work in galleries." He claims he'll provide his customers an "inside understanding of the gallery business." If what he teaches is any reflection of his own marketing methods, though, you might want to look elsewhere. Honest galleries will never respond to spamming or misrepresentation. Ones looking to take advantage of naive artists might, though.

At the request of an artist, I once researched Xanadu and his advice. Don't have time to go into how the gallery works right now other than to say it is a novel way of garnering a profit for the owner but not for the artist. Much of his advice to artists was the same tired stuff everyone who is not a raw beginner knows, but some of the details had little bearing on reality. For instance, he said that one of the ways to make your work seem like a cohesive body was to use similar frames. Every legitimate gallery owner or worker and every art school graduate knows what is wrong with that statement and what it reveals about the person who would make it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Non-Verbal Dictionary...

The Non-Verbal Dictionary doesn't have many pictures yet it's an interesting resource for artists, especially those who represent human figures or faces. Many of the things defined therein are known by artists through observation but not by name. You may perform a zygomatic smile of recognition or discover at many of them or otherwise have your limbic system stimulated.

The site is flawed by not having an easily accessible table of contents or index, if it has any at all, but the text of each definition is littered with links that lead from happiness to gaze-down to amphibian brain with merely a shoulder-shrug.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Become a Huge Success With the Greatest Hype in the World!

Virtually all for-profit contest mills promote their "calls-for-artists" with hyperbole and very few if any legitimate opportunities do. I'm immediately suspicious when I get an announcement that uses superlatives.

For instance, I just got one from a person calling himself Maximillian Gallery -- I'm pretty sure this is a sole proprietorship w/o regular employees. It wasn't over-the-top hype, but enough to make me look further. As soon as I read "the purpose of this exciting competition," I could tell the main function of the contest is to turn a profit for the individual behind it. I've got nothing against profit per se, but I hate to see artists taken advantage of. The secondary purpose, it seems, is to launch a business selling reproductions. There are no cash prizes; instead, the winners get "A Limited Edition print," with five copies going to the artists. Not clear what kind of prints or what size. There are other, lesser, prizes, also consisting of services by Maximillian, such as being mentioned in a press release and having an image on the Web.

The email offers artists 40 percent of revenue from Speed Racer™ art sales (the contest is for images of that cartoon) and claims "additionally, art galleries/art dealers and artists may benefit with ongoing revenue from licensing and publishing opportunities." A sixty percent commission is high in any brick and mortar gallery. Max seems to be online only and is also charging artists to enter, which a legitimate selling gallery doesn't do. The business about licensing revenue may be true but it is in there primarily to dangle dollar signs in front of a naive artist. There seems to be nothing about how the merchandise will be marketed! Wow.

The site itself looks professional at first glance. Under the logo are listed Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris. A little investigation uncovers no evidence of Max's presence in any of those cities, so why are those words there? It wouldn't be to fool the casual observer into thinking this was a big deal international gallery, would it? The contact page gives a P. O. Box in Beverly Hills. It's safe to assume their only presence is online.

The total number of artists they currently represent is three, one listed under the site link that says artists and that same person plus two others under the site link that says licensing. Not confidence inspiring.

Monday, September 13, 2010



I am not interested in a renewal of AOM. I find more valuable contests for my work through other lists available for free.
-KFL [after three-free issue trial ran out]


Thanks for having tried AOM! We'll remove you from the list as you wish. Sorry it didn't meet your needs at this time, but please contact us whenever we may be of service.

Your "more valuable contests" may not actually be. We look at many more possibilities than we publish. We screen out those "contests" that exist primarily to turn a profit for the business owners that run them yet provide very little real benefit for artists or their careers. These are often referred to as contest mills or competition mills in the art world and they appear regularly on the free lists and are promoted heavily by direct email and through paid advertisements.

Such contests tend to accept most entrants -- a business strategy designed to encourage people to enter time after time. There is no real harm done to the artist who wants to impress family and friends, but serious art collectors or professional art dealers normally will shun the artist who has such contests on his/her resume.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of such contest mills, possibly hundreds. Some are tiny, operating out of a bedroom or home office. After all, you only need a computer and gallery software to run one. Some online gallery programs are entirely automatic, relying on the artist to enter the information, upload the images and make the payment, leaving the owner to sip Mai-Tais by the pool and chuckle.

Some of them are quite active and do a lot of promotion, often sending mass emails to artists whose information has been collected from the Internet through scraper programs (which gather up every name and email address that appears on a site with the word "artist" on it). Or they advertise heavily in some of the art deadline lists aimed at amateur and naive artists. Or both.

So look before you leap.


PS: Just because something appears on a free list but not in AOM doesn't mean it is a contest mill or a scam. It may have missed our deadline or we may have overlooked it. When in doubt, contact us and we will give you our honest opinion based on research.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wounded in Action

I was checking an old call to see if it had been replaced by a new one. It hadn't, but then I started to look at the images submitted to the old call, which was for art created by orthopedic patients wounded in war or their families or care givers. I started with this image, then went on to the next
and eventually though them all. They are arranged alphabetically by the artist's last name.

In general, the work by the professional artists is not as good as the "primitive" work by amateurs. At least it is not as poignant. I think there is a lesson here but I don't know what
it is yet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Call for photos of unmade beds

A request from Leah in NY

In preparation for my next exhibition of the 101 Beds, I am creating Unmade Beds: A Photo Collection ( comprised of photographs of unmade beds . . . taken BY YOU of YOUR BED the moment after your feet hit the ground!

If you want, you can do even do it with your cell phone camera . . . To participate, just follow this link:

Just take a snapshot of your unmade bed and email as a jpeg to artallianceny@gmail.com_ with your name and the city/state, of your image. It's easy and with your help I will have at least 1000 images this month.

Pass it on to all your friends, your Facebook community. . . everyone is welcome to participate.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Vanity Book to Suck Money from Needy Artists

Yet another vanity book has appeared on the playing field, ready to take the money of naive, needy and usually mediocre artists. It is being "published" by two women who claim to be curators and collectors. They call themselves and the proposed book, "International Contemporary Artists".

Their business plan is nothing new: put out a call for artists, claim to charge nothing to enter, but require a prepublication purchase of the book to qualify for inclusion, in this case about $220 for two full-color copies. (Or about $90 for one black and white edition, but who would?) They of course hope each artist buys more than two books. And anyone who is already going to spend that kind of money for a 150-page paperback book, will probably buy several.

The judges of who gets in are the publishers themselves. If you look at the samples of who has been accepted, you can see the standards aren't quite those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Distribution, they claim, "is made internationally through large wholesalers and e-shops, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and more." Which means nothing. It means they are going to make the book available through those places, which virtually anyone can do. And they say nothing about shipping it to galleries, collectors and such (which never accomplishes anything of value, anyway). The odds of the book selling more than 100 copies to people who are not connected with an artist in the book are extremely slim. The organizers say nothing about the retail cost of the book. If it is the same as the cost to the participating artist, I lower my estimate of total copies sold to outsiders to four. No one but a drunk or a fool would shell out that kind of money for a paperback book of ordinary art.

All of the above assumes the book actually gets published. If it doesn't get published it's a scam. If it does get published . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Starting Out with AOM

Hey Benny,

I did not use the first AOM at all. I am resubscribing because Caroll Michels recommends it and I know it has value. How do I use it, what do I look for? I see it as a great marketing tool.

Can you explain or give examples of how other artists use it?

C. S.

Hey, C. S.,

As with all good tools, there are many things you can do with AOM; the more you learn about it, the more you can do with it. But there is plenty you can do right out of the box.

Perhaps the best way to start is to skim the whole issue first, to get an idea of what is in it. You'll see a lot of abbreviations that will be meaningless to you at first but will start to make sense after a while. To speed things up, look at the abbreviation keys in the boxes. Many of the abbreviations for media are fairly self evident. For instance, PA is PAinting, PH is PHotography and PR is PRintmaking. 2D is two-dimensional work, which would include everything for drawing to painting to photography.

And of course things have been placed in categories, each with a heading. So look at the category that deals with your particular medium, then at the categories that would also contain it. If you are a photographer, you can look at Photography, All and Various Media. If you are looking for a residency or want your work in a registry, etc., look in those sections.

There is also a key to the general layout of entries. Each entry has its contents in essentially the same order as each other, so after a while, you'll be able to read them quickly and make sense of them.

A good place to learn more is in the FAQ, at

And if you can't find what you need to know there, just drop me a line. AOM is really a service, not simply a product.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Charlatan Ink Prize?

Dear Benny,

Have you heard of the Charlatan Ink Prize? (What a name!)

I received an invitation to this in my email and because I get so many invitations to "vanity" shows, I was immediately skeptical.

This may be perfectly wonderful and all, and maybe it's just my general nature to be suspicious, but who is Charlatan Ink? My Googling efforts turn up nothing but entry after entry of this particular promotion itself. I can't find anything on their site about their plans for exhibition other than a vague reference to "the exhibiting Gallery/Exhibition Space".

The prize is evidently in its "inaugural year." Has anyone ever heard of these jurors? $50 per entry is a lot of money.
-- E. D.

Dear E. D.,

I did quite a bit of checking. This sounds at best like a conceptual piece from which the organizers hope to make some money. The jurors are simply friends of the two artists running it it. None of them has any "weight" in the art world. Normally, these big entrance fee competitions have a very prestigious list of judges -- which is one of the ways they can draw entrants.

The "sponsors" are not really sponsors; they are companies which are providing some services in exchange for having their names mentioned. One of them is even an outfit run by one of the organizers. None of them are real art world or business world "names."

The main question for any artist is bigger than, "Is this legit?" The main question is: "Is this worthwhile?"

There are too many red flags, here, one of which you mentioned: there are no Google references not prompted by the organizers themselves. The have no history.

At $50, it's not worthwhile, legit or not. If the judges were more prominent, if the sponsors were connected with the real art world or the real big business world and the production were more professional, it might be worthwhile. If the entry fee were $10, it might be worthwhile. As it is: too many negative points and not enough positive ones.

The only positive point is the $25,000 first prize, but we have no way of knowing whether it will really be awarded and, if it is, will go to a real entrant or to an organizers' spouse, relative or friend. They say the names of the artists will not be know to the judges, but that means little. I have served on a number of juries and quickly recognized the work of people whom I knew personally or whose work I knew. (I tried to not let that influence me.) And even if everything is on the up-and-up, there is no telling if they'll get enough entries to even cover their costs. These sorts of things seems simple to people who have no experience doing them, but the pitfalls are many and they always take a lot more work than imagined.

Actually, the size of the prize is one of the things that puts me into the doubting column. No other prizes for individual artists are this huge in the first run of a contest, with the possible exception of those offered by large non-profit foundations or by foundations set up by the survivors of an artist who has established the prize in his/her will.

Bottom line: no compelling evidence it's a scam but no compelling evidence it is worthwhile to enter.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Repeating Deadlines

Certain calls for artists have regular deadlines: once a year, every six months, every quarter. These tend to be grants, residencies, fellowships and other opps that have good awards. They also require a lot of work to prepare for.

Put the ones in which you are interested on an electronic reminder (there are many free online services as well as iPod apps and computer programs). Enter not only the deadlines, but your own do-by deadlines such as "CD ready" or "application final draft." Many of the services or programs also have to-do lists and notepads you can use as well.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Online Contest Mill Wannabe?

Originally posted June 16, 2010.

Someone calling himself Dave Bown Projects is offering $5000 in prizes to winners of the "1st Semiannual Competition." Costs $30 to enter. Might be legit, might not. Lots of signs it might be just an easy way to raise some capital: 1) Virtually nothing else on his website except a series of images by well-known contemporary artists. Nothing to say what they are doing there; perhaps they exist to give the prospective entrant the idea the he/she will be in good company. 2) Whatever he is doing, has just started, as Dave Bown Projects is not referenced anywhere else in Google but by his site and by the various competition listings he has submitted his contest to. 3) Nevertheless, his "about" page says DBP started in 2005. 4) Bown claims he will "produce a Press Release and obtain Reviews" and then goes on to say "our private network (offline database) includes over 13,000 contacts spanning over 80 countries. Furthermore, we will have an announcement sent via email to an aggregate of over 76,000 subscribers."

As someone who has worked in the field, I can tell you sending a press release is unlikely to obtain reviews of a online show of 25 images by people who are submitting to contests at $30 a pop and showing in a space with no track record. He doesn't tell us who those subscribers are. If they are not people interested in buying art, it doesn't matter how many of them there are. Also, he announces he will be buying art himself. There's only one reason to make such an announcement: to induce people to enter the contest.

It takes only 167 submissions at $30 to equal the prize money. Putting on a contest like this takes some overhead, but the rest is pure profit. Nothing wrong with a legitimate contest, but look out for ones making questionable statements.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shipping Guide for Canadian Artists

Artist-photographer Raymond St. Arnaud has written a comprehensive guide for other Canadians who need to ship work to the USA. Its aim is to help the artist avoid paying brokerage charges, which can be prohibitive. There is also information on acquiring the USA ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) required by an artist in order to get paid by public institutions. The download-able PDF is accompanied by rtf templates of the forms required for each step in the shipping process. All this is available on Ray's site

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vanity Galleries vs. Competition Mills

Vanity galleries are businesses that require artists to pay to show. That's how they make their money, not by selling art. Gallery mills have lots and lots of calls for artists, for which they charge a submission fee. That's how they make their money. In general, it is not a good deal for an artist to bother with either sort of business, because sales will be few to non-existent and knowledgeable collectors normally don't frequent such places.

Some competition mills and vanity galleries disguise themselves as co-ops or membership galleries, but the goal is always the same: to provide an income for the owner primarily or exclusively through payments from artists rather than from commissions on sales to collectors.

It is often instructive to read the "About" page on its website. If there is talk of services for artists or opportunities for artists, the business sees artists, not art buyers as its primary customers,. For example, a gallery on Long Island City, 50 miles from Manhattan, says showing with them will: "provide an opportunity for artists to become an active member of the arts community of New York City, whether they are showing for the first time or the artist has years of exhibition experience." Notice how vague and squishy this really is. What is really being offered to the careful reader?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Artists worth nothing, but money flapped at them

"In lieu of payment, each artist and one guest will be an invited guest ($10 entry fee waved) . . ."

-from Mesa Contemporary Art prospectus

Thursday, May 13, 2010

3-Free Issue AOM Sub Offer Still Good

In case you haven't yet had a chance to pass it on to your AOM-challenged colleagues, the 3-free issue AOM subscription offer is still good. Your reward for passing it along is you get an image of your work placed in the pool to be used in a feature issue, perhaps even on the cover page (tell those to whom you forward the offer to mention your name). If you need the text, it's:

Art Opportunities Monthly (AOM) is offering a free, no-obligation 3-month subscription to introduce its new format. It is now much easier to read, a snap to search and it looks nice, too.

AOM, a monthly list of opportunities for artists and photographers world-wide, has been around for over 10 years. It is preferred and trusted by professional artists because it screens out the scams and for-profit "contests" and presents each hand-selected opp in a quick-to-scan capsulized form. It is sent in a highly search-able, freshly organized PDF directly to your email address..

To find out more and sign up, simply go to:
(Link to

Your email address and other information will be kept absolutely private and you will not be spammed. This offer is for new subscribers only.

Offer expires June 15, 2010


Celeste Prize and Network

We agreed to sent an announcement about the Celeste Prize and network to the AOM subscription list in exchange for their sending our announcement about the 3-free issue subscription to theirs. Their network consists mainly of contemporary artists, dealers, curators and other art professionals based in Europe.

If you haven't seen the announcement, it's at Prize 2010, 2nd Edition - New York.html.

The organization is interesting and vital. The entry fee for the competition is huge -- 90 EU, I think. Nevertheless, you can join the network for free.

RSS Feed Now Active

Started an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed of late-breaking calls-to-artists we receive too
late to put in the next scheduled issue of AOM or that have too little lead time after the issue's publication date -- between the 1st and 6th of the month.

These will not be in the capsulized AOM format, nor will they have the shortened AOM URLs (http//, because those take a great deal of time to prepare and must be done in large batches, but they will have links to the sites of the calls so you can check the prospectuses.

I've added the feed to this blog. You have permission to ad it to yours.

If your browser is the latest version or has the right extension, simply enter: I'm pretty sure there's a widget that I can add that will publish the RSS feed right on this page, too. If you see it, I've found it.

If you want something fancier, there are many RSS readers to choose from, both online readers and stand-alone software. If you already have a gmail account or want to sign up for one, you can use Google's Reader There are other similar on-line readers.

A comparison of some stand-alone readers is at:

If you are already reading RSS feeds, let us know your favorite ways of doing so.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hanging Fees

A subscriber wrote about hanging and handling fees. She said she had been starting to notice them and didn't like what she saw. She said, "This is getting to be too too much."

These handling fees have been around a while in the watercolor society shows (AWS or NWS and some regional ones) and some other fancy shows for traditional art. Such shows have big prize pools. An award in one of them can be as much as $10,000 and make a difference in a how much a the winner can charge for workshops or how-to videos. With those lures, the watercolor societies, pastel societies and portrait societies are able to charge the hanging fees.

The practice is starting to be picked up by organizations that don't give out huge prizes or hold prestigious competitions, however. I rarely mention those fees in AOM because it gets complicated and I figure if the artist is interested and reads the prospectus and the fee turns her off, that takes care of it. When I do mention it, it usually means I think the show isn't a good deal.

I recently got an email from a subscriber who volunteers with an organization in Northern California. She thought I had been attacking the whole idea of fees. In that particular case, the fees were about average. She explained they didn't get government money so had to charge the fees. She went to great lengths to defend what her organization was doing with the fees they collected: bringing poor kids in to see the shows -- things like that. All of which is admirable-ish, but a clear admission that the sum of the fees was greater -- it seems much greater -- than what was needed just to administer the particular competition. And these weren't even high fees.

I do understand that an organization needs funds and that they have to come from somewhere. Charging artists to enter shows is certainly not the only way to raise funds, but it is the easiest so it is used often. I'm not saying that organizing a show and presenting it is not a lot of work, it is.

But it would be nice if organizations would be up front about the fees: Dear Artist, we are having a competition and charging fees high enough to not only cover our expenses for the exhibit but to also fund significant parts of our program. Don't worry if you are rejected; we will use your money to bus in widows and orphans to get some culture.

I don't mean to be sarcastic. I'm simply suggesting a little truth in advertising. Perhaps if artists would start writing emails objecting to high fees and hanging and handling fees it would do some good. And also asking what the money is going to be used for. Right now, the organizations have a blank check. Most of them are honorable, I'm sure, but they are public institutions and should be asked how they spend the money they get from artist fees. If they are non-profits, their yearly budgets must be made available for inspection, with some limits.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fees to Donate to Charity Fundraisers

I am seeing more and more charity events which ask artists to not only donate their work to be sold, usually at auction, to raise money for the organization, but to pay a fee for doing so.

In one recent case, the $35 submission fee was to be paid directly to the artist's charity of choice, chosen from a list. Monies raised from the auction were supposed to be commingled by the umbrella organization and then apportioned out to its chosen recipients. The artist who sold nothing was out $35. The artist who sold something, was out the time, materials, blood sweat and tears it took to make that piece plus $35.

In the case of something I just looked at, there is a juried submission process. No fee to submit. If selected, though, the artist has to pay $35. On top of that, the organization takes a 40% commission on sales.

Nothing wrong in donating to a charity of your choice, of course. I support that. But these guys are treating artists as wimpy little money machines who would sell their birthright for "exposure." Too bad it works. What the organizations are doing, that is. The exposure, not so much. In my experience, very few artists have benefited from having their work in charity auctions. Usually the people who buy the work are bargain hunters who do not buy work at real prices. And often the artists are disappointed because their work either didn't sell or because it sold for a relatively low price, of which the artist got little or nothing.

Seems best to give work only for those causes one believes in, and give it the same way one would give money or some other donation -- freely, with little concern other than helping.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taking it to a New Level

Crussell Fine Arts in Orange CA has issued a call for art to be purchased by a new Bloomingdale's store to open in August 2010 in Santa Monica. Crussel will administer the purchase of the works.

This sort of thing is usually handled by an art consultant. There are thousands of art consultants in the US. They range in experience from hey-what-the-hell-I'll-give-it-a-try to savvy professionals who help corporations and individuals build up impressive collections. They generally operate by building up a substantial registry of images from artists whom they have selected as appropriate for their client base. The legitimate among them do not charge these artists to submit. Rather, they make their income from actual sales, normally taking about 50% of the selling price.

Mr Russel, too, is taking a 50% commission on all the work sold to Bloomingdale's. That should result in a hefty fee, which we don't begrudge him. But he is also requiring artists to pay him $35 just to submit their work to be considered. That's not normal. It's also not good business sense, either, as it will screen out the more established artists who feel, rightly, they shouldn't have to pay for their work to be considered.

The cynical among us might think he already has his "better" artists lined up to show Bloomingdale's and is simply issuing the pay-to-play call to pick up a bit more cash and perhaps a few more artists for the pool. But it would be too cynical to think such a thing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slick Deal

I came across this about a year ago, but just re-discovered it. Someone named Jesse Ross set up a site called Sez its purpose is to to provide a "meager quarterly offering intended to dispurse [sic] small but vitalizing bursts of funding to those who find our sum would solve a surprising many problems hindering their ongoing art making process."

EThe concept, if not the language, sounds straight-forward. There's more, however: "As a stipulation for eligibility to receive the Working Art Grant of $500.00, we ask that each prospective recipient be willing to exchange one of their available works of our mutual agreement in return for the award." Which means that Ross gets an original work of art for $500, an original work which he -- or other unnamed jurors -- has decided is the best of the best. Not a bad deal for him in itself--

But an artist must apply for the grant. It costs $20. So Ross is purchasing the work with other people's money. He's getting it free, in other words. Anything collected over the $500, we assume goes to maintain the site and is not returned to the unsuccessful applicants. There is an out of pocket cost of $3-10 a month for Web hosting. Also, he also has to pay someone, presumably himself, to post the images of the winners and make various text updates. Depending on one's hourly rate, this could cost another $20-100 every three months.

This is not necessarily a scam. But one always wants to know: who is choosing the artists that get the award, what are the criteria, what happens to income in excess of the award? Things like that.

In looking for answers, I found that the individual running this owns 60 other domains and that, with one possible exception, everyone listed as having received an award is someone who had an association with him prior to his launching this site. Just friends helping friends, I guess.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Q: I was recently disappointed by a rejection from a juried show. I was sure I had a good chance after seeing what others had brought in. It will be interesting to see what they hang.

A: Sorry to hear about your rejection. The odds are that you will be rejected more often than you will be accepted, no matter how good your work is. Some of this is simply luck. For instance, there may be more than 1000 entries. Sometimes there are many more. If you have submitted, say, a landscape, but there are 100 other landscapes before the jurors get to yours, they may be past the point where they simply don't want to accept any more landscapes. Or they may be visually exhausted by the time they get to yours. Looking at 400 images and making a decision about each one is hard work. Looking at four times that many leaves your eyes and brain spinning.

But that's just the way it goes. Not every top effort brings success. The best big league baseball player rarely gets on base more than four times out of ten. He scores a run something like less than 1 out of 15. When you count balls that he swings at and misses, that ratio probably drops to 1 out of 30.

Another reason artists are rejected when their work is up to par is that they fail to follow directions adequately.( I'm not saying that was true in your case, but it is something to be especially aware of.) Thus, their work never even gets seen by the jury. It is disqualified and the entry fee is kept. From the artist's point of view, this is unfair. But the organization simply doesn't have the time to deal with making the corrections or figuring out what the artist meant to do. And they can't take the chance of changing something, because the change might negatively affect the artist's entry and they would, rightly, be held responsible for it. So you always have to double check -- maybe even triple check -- the prospectus and what you are entering.

In general, entering juried shows should be approached as a learning experience, not a one-time stab. What kinds of shows do you do best with? What kinds of jurors (teachers, active artists, curators, painters, photographers, etc.). What particular jurors? Keep records and review them often.

And, good luck, always.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vanity Gallery ICO Holds Another "Contest"

Ico Gallery, a business in NYC, runs various, "contests." Their latest, Emerging Artist Competition (Star Search), is run as part of one of their sites, ArtiFacTorYNYC. Entry is free. Winners "will be given the opportunity to be included in a collective exhibition at Ico Gallery's ground floor Chelsea gallery." One winner will be "given the opportunity to exhibit at Ico Galley during our 2010-2011 calendar." Implies a solo show, but could be anything. In any case, it is the opportunity to pay for it that you win, not the thing itself.

And what does "opportunity to be included" mean? Why, it means, that for a substantial fee -- $200-400, according to one artist who contacted us -- you will have your work shown along wlth others who either have plenty of money to burn or have no idea how the real art world works. So entry is free but acceptance is very expensive.

Ico Gallery twice tried to have AOM list their contest for free by falsely claiming on our submission form that they are a non-profit organization -- instead of paying $6/line for a classified ad. When I wrote to ask if accepted artists were charged to show their work, I got only the curt reply, "All of the information can be found on the contest rules page."

Indeed it can. Almost. But it is written in a way intended to mislead the inexperienced and recognition-needy. "Given the opportunity to be included" is not the same as included. I wonder if they are also offering the "opportunity to include the Brooklyn Bridge as one of your most prized possessions."

One good way to recognize a vanity gallery is to look at the work shown. Almost without exception, the work is not professional quality. Also, there are usually fairly prominent pictures of the individual artists. They tend to be of a certain type, although I cannot articulate it. I'm waiting for someone to do a series of portraits of people who routinely show their work in vanity galleries. To complete the concept, should the results be shown in a vanity gallery?