One of the first things we discovered about the artists who submitted work was that they often had trouble with the practicalities of filling out an entry form, preparing images for submission, writing an artist statement, and preparing work for display. Even experienced artists sometimes didn’t know how to do these things or didn’t realize how essential doing them well is.
Does every artist need to learn how to be a professional? Our view is that mentoring artists in these skills benefits even artists who do not make a living by exhibiting. An attitude of professionalism extends to any working relationship. Professionalism means making the best art you can, given your level of expertise and experience, and presenting it with as much care and thought as you spent creating it.
Caring about the neatness of the mat and appropriateness of the frame, about the color and sharpness of the photo submission, about the readability of the artist statement, about meeting deadlines and so on creates an overall impression. It shows that the artist values his art and invites others to value it too. And it certainly makes the gallery director’s job easier!
To help artists with these tasks, we handed out instruction papers with the entry forms. We held workshops two different years to teach framing and matting principles. (Almost no one came.) The most popular assistance has been when we set up a time to photograph the art for submission. Sometimes volunteers simply took photos and gave them to the artist to prepare; other times a professional took photos with a professional backdrop and lighting and prepared the images for a fee.
This section has some tips for artists who are preparing their work for an exhibit.
Hope and the Visual Arts by Kate Van Dyke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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