Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are Juried Shows Running Con Games?

A subscriber writes:

I have a general question.  How do I know that various competitions I apply for that cost money aren't pre-selected?  I keep getting the feeling that there is a strong possibility that no one actually looks at my work, they just take my money.  Are there any rules in place to prevent this from happening?

We answered:

It's very unlikely that it happens with any legitimate call for artists. I've been around the art world for years. Have been a juror, have helped organize shows and know many people who have been jurors and who work for organization who put on these shows and other competitions. I have no first or second hand knowledge of this happening.

On top of that, as a practicing artist in the past I have been admitted to many shows and even won prizes -- all from shows to which I was a complete stranger. And I have know dozens upon dozens of artists who have had similar experiences and hear from many more each month.

What can happen though, and does, is that if someone submits to a show but fails to follow the rules, his/her work will probably not get to the jury. In most cases, the organization is understaffed and doesn't have time to contact the artists who have made the mistakes and cannot try to fix the errors or try to guess what was really intended, especially because to do so might only make things worse. And then they would be to blame.

The most prevalent mistakes are: CD won't open (because it is for a different system than specified), wrong medium, failure to include payment, living outside of specified geographic area, missed deadline, failure to subemit proper forms or incomplete applications.

What you can do is contact the organization after you have been rejected. They can't tell you why the jurors rejected you -- they usually don't know and the jurors were only there for the time it took for them to do their work -- but they can tell you if your work actually got to the juror or if it had been held back because some part of your submission did not meet the rules.

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