Monday, April 26, 2010

Just Do It!

 "No Whining!" poster from my classroom

 Last week, while I was on Spring Break, I spent at least two entire mornings working on art exhibition submissions.  I really didn't want to, but I figured it had to be done, and since I was off, I couldn't think of any good excuses not to.  For additional motivation, I gave myself a little pep talk.  "JUST DO IT!" I yelled at myself.  "SUCK IT UP!" (Yep, that's my pep talk- told you it was little.)  I was more than a bit frustrated, because usually I procrastinate and procrastinate, until I've managed to miss the deadline.  Then, I curse, but I still do the same thing the next time.  Sheesh!  In the past year or more, in fact, I had missed nearly all of them.  Of course, I want to be in the shows, I just don't want to do the actual entering.  I hate the entire process; to me, it's like torture.

It's not the rejections that bother me; I got over that a long time ago.  I wish I had kept all the rejection letters I've received over the years, because I'm pretty sure I'd have enough by now to wallpaper my studio.  What better reminder of the power of persistence than that?  Or, I could use them to make the world's biggest collage!  Sure, years ago, when I started doing this, I'd get all depressed when I got a rejection.  I haven't really come all that far in the self-confidence department; I've just done this long enough that it doesn't faze me any more.  (Sticks and stones... )

Art Exhibition Applications

What does bother me is that it's just a boring, time-consuming pain in the butt.  Here's what I mean.  First, you have to figure out which shows to enter.  I should clarify here.  Finding them isn't hard; it's deciding which ones are worthwhile that can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider.  For example, is your art a good match for the theme, or for the venue?  What does "Healing Art" really mean?  What type of work do they usually show?  You have to do some research, so you're not just wasting your time and money.  And speaking of money, some are pretty expensive to enter; if the fee is over 30 dollars or so, I usually mark it off the list.  Shipping is quite expensive, so is it best to limit your entries to shows within driving distance?

Then there's the submission process itself.  Emailing images is easiest, but most want them on CD, which you have to put in the proper padded envelope with the proper paperwork, take to the post office and weigh, etc.  What's worse is that each show has stipulations for how the images should be sized and labeled, and it's different for every single show!  For example, one wants them at 300 dpi, with the shortest side at least 1200 pixels.  The next one will be 72 dpi with no side longer than 450 pixels.  I've never been able to re-use a CD, ever.  The labeling instructions are also incredibly specific.  First name.last name_first 2 words of title. jpg.  Or, first initial last name_entry number_title.  Or anything else you can think of, as long as it's not like the labeling for any other show.  I've even seen one that stipulated that you must use "inches" when giving the size, not " or in.  Are you starting to get the picture?

A mess of CD's and crap.

If you're applying for a solo show, they're going to want various other documents as well, such as your statement, bio, resume, exhibition proposal, and possibly even invitations from past shows.

Seriously?  Could some of this stuff not be standardized somehow?  Maybe it's just me, but this makes my head spin around until I want to spit pea soup.  Did I mention that I hate this?

But, the good part is that every once in a while you get something like this:

And then your piece goes on a little journey- if you get it framed and sent out on time.

World Dharma Mandala by Sharmon Davidson

What I wouldn't give for a full time secretary!  Any takers?


  1. I avoid these at all cost!!! LOL!!

  2. You left something out Sharmon, the dreaded Artist's Statement! How I loathed those and what a pompous load of old crap they always ended up being! Well done for getting down to doing it and may your endeavours bear fruit.

  3. I love it. You crack me up.

    I simply have zero interest in what that part of the 'awtworld' seems so last century....stakes, aims, goals for working are very different now.

    Good luck on connecting with your assistant...they're out there waiting to find you ;-)

  4. Right, which I why I coach others (with longer pep talks and small step ideas for motivation, co-designing healthy creative habits that will assist you in wanting to really stick to it)...but never enter myself. Who needs that kind of aggravation! LOL. plus I'm a total wus. But an excellent inspirational cheerleader:)

  5. I know the feeling well. Hate the process. I would pay someone to do it...but thats a hassle too...sigh.

  6. Hi Sharmon. Thanks for the comment you left after finding me. I love meeting folks via the arts blogs!!

    Before I answer your question/s, I have to say I couldn't help but notice the Chautauqua brochure in your post. As a former resident (and arts administrator) of Chautauqua County, my advice is not to enter there. They receive literally hundreds and hundreds of entries for a show that hangs not that many. Many national shows use entry fees as bigtime fundraisers. Now I'm all for an exhibit at a not-for-profit breaking even, but making money on the backs of the artists really ticks me off. Always investigate the size of the show, amounts of awards, number of previous entries and do the math. Unless one is independently wealthy, entry fees can eat you alive!!


    I'm from Southern Illinois - grew up in central and southern Illinois and I love the big sky country and the rolling hills of the Ozarks. Been in GA for 20 years now mostly as it looks like home. I'll follow you - and visit often. I'm going to look for your crows and ravens now!

  7. In my role as your sometimes-assistant, coiner-of-phrases and rememberer-of-birthdays, I think you may want to look at some of the state-run "unclaimed funds" sites to uncover some treasures to help with entry fees. The one most pertinent to you would seem to be My use of the Ohio site has been fruitful in the past.

    Hope this helps!

    (Happy Birthday early!)


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I'm happy to reply here, but may not always have time for individual emails.