... Last night, as the clock on my computer screen ticked closer to 11:50 pm, I was frantically trying to finish, resize and upload my images to OnlineJuriedShows.com for entering Randy Higbee Gallery's 2012 6 Inches Squared Show. And tonight, I opened my emails -- and happily found out "April's Passing" and "Island Beauty - White Plumeria" are accepted. I've just learned several days before that "Peppermint Rose" was also accepted into Debra Huse Gallery's Holiday Treasure Salon 2012. So, it looks like I will have a bunch of small paintings shipped down southern California for the holidays...
April's Passing, Watercolor on Ampersand Aquaboard, 6"h x 6"w, 2012 #52
Accepted into Randy Higbee Gallery's 2012 6 Inches Squared Show
Bid in my DPW Auction (Starting Bid $95)
With all these great news, I do not want to sound ungrateful. But after the initial ecstasy faded, the practical side of me cannot help but wondering -- should I really be working against the clock to enter so many juried shows?
Asking a full-time artist who is trying to make a living making and selling their art, you are likely going to get a very passionate answer about this question -- and ask a hundred, it's likely you'll get fifty yes and fifty no, with very good reason on both sides. I've had quite good luck with juried shows this year, getting into many and sold quite a few works with much higher price tags than selling online (mostly because juried shows often requires a minimum size of 10" x 14", much larger than what I usually sell online, and these larger pieces are also framed). However, doing the hard math often suggests such sales are not necessarily economically viable, contrary to my initial belief: take "Peppermint Rose" as example, its label price in the Holiday Treasure Show is $400. If it is sold, Debra Huse gallery takes 50% (which I think they fully deserve for spending time, efforts and money putting on such a great show and doing all the marketing for it, not to mention the huge gallery space a show like this will need also costs money), so what I will get is only $200. Now if we calculate the framing cost (I used a $50 frame from Randy Higbee frames shop for this one, since they have great quality frames, and they also do all the fitting for the paintings juried into the Holiday Treasure Show for free), entry fee ($45 for three images), shipping ($15 each way), handling fee (a very reasonable $10), packing material -- you can see the profit quick go down the drain on my side. So, is it truly worthwhile to spending that much time photographing, uploading, submitting my artwork, and packing/shipping it hundreds of miles away to exhibit in these juried shows? Is there any real benefit for me as an artist to sell my artwork this way versus simply selling by myself online, or in local galleries?...
Island Beauty - White Plumeria,
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140# Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2012 #12
Accepted into Randy Higbee Gallery's 2012 6 Inches Squared Show
After almost a year's exploration, experimentation and contemplation, I think the answer to that question is more likely "yes", but the reason does not lie in the economic side. In stead, I think it maybe worthwhile to enter juried shows for the following two benefits:
-- Exposure. Juried shows in different regions of the country may expose your work to local buyers, who may not have a chance to see your work otherwise. Often it is not practical or even possible for an artist, especially artists who are just starting their career to have representations in galleries across the country, therefore, juried shows can bring your work in front of potential customers in the regions far from your normal reach. Juried shows also often showcase larger-sized works whose scale is hard to fully comprehend until the viewer is standing in front of it, instead of looking at it on a computer screen. Some work are definitely more powerful and awe-inspiring when viewed in person. I think this is why my larger work are often sold in juried shows instead of online.
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140# Cold Press Paper, 8"h x 8"w, 2012 #36
Accepted into Debra Huse Gallery's Holiday Treasure Salon 2012
-- Recognition. For artists who are just starting their career, getting into juried shows, and getting awards may open a few doors leading to wonderful opportunities. Art magazines, art book editors and curators may see your work and approach you for potential possibilities of writing an article about you, using your work in one of their art books, or even suggesting a future show opportunity. Art communities may see your work and invite you to give a demo, teaching a class or even a workshop. Adding national juried show acceptances and awards to one's resume also definitely make that road to gallery, artist-in-residence or grant application a bit easier. What's more, it is a demonstration that you are continuously making an effort presenting your work as a professional artist, which serves as a strong evidence in case you file your tax return as a professional artist, but cannot generate profit three out of five consecutive years. (Often, tax agents are quite flexible regarding applying this standard to artists, as long as you demonstrate the "continuous effort" toward becoming more professional and making steady progresses.)
Crimsonscape - Red Poinsettia,
Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, WIP 2
Of course, one can also add that simply putting one's work "out there" to compare with all the wonderful professional artwork submitted to a juried show can serve as a measure of one's current level and progress through time. However, I would definitely caution taking this measure too serious, as more often than not, acceptance or rejection in a juried show with only one juror reflects more on the juror's taste and preference than the absolute quality of the artworks entered, and it can (surprisingly) be quite subjective. Therefore, whenever I am accepted into a show I really like, I would always caution myself that this by no means is a certificate that I have "made it" and better than all the artists that did not get in. Instead, it more likely just means that I am lucky enough that my artistic expression happens to fit in the vision of this particular juror...
To show, or not to show, that seems to be the eternal question for an artist struggling to establish his/her artistic career. To answer it, one really has to reach deep down, and ask oneself -- what is the purpose and driving factor for me to enter this show? What are the biggest benefits? What are the draw-backs? How much time and money am I likely to spend for it? Can I afford such time and monitory expenses? What can I get in return? Who is likely going to see this show? And are these people who I would like to show my work to at this stage of my career?... It is not an easy answer, and only you -- the artist can answer it for yourself...