REJECT 1‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are the two most powerful words in the art world, and I suspect in everyone else’s lives. Just one word can mean the difference between success and failure, a dream or a nightmare, the will to continue or to simply give up.

Everybody loves a ‘winner’, especially here in Australia. The word ‘loser’ is often employed as a ‘put-down’, a sign of defeat and loss. If you don’t come up to the mark you can often be labelled as a failure.

Life is full of risks and challenges and art is no exception. If artists want to be ‘seen’ they must step out of the comfort zone of commercial fine art and take an individual approach in the way they ‘see’. Most artists though are happy to work ‘safely’, being more concerned with producing art that pleases the majority of  patrons,that in turn will equates to steady sales. But what if your work isn’t popular or doesn’t sell? Does a ‘No’ equate to being a failure? Are those artists who sell their work a success?

To be a practising artist is one thing, to be a practising artist who shows their work in the public domain is another very different matter. It takes bravery to show one’s work in public, because it’s where opinions are shared, decisions made and judgements are cast.

Artists need to have thick skins especially when it comes to entering their work in art awards, big or small. This is where they are at the mercy of selectors and judges who make decisions behind closed doors that may change an artist’s life forever, for better or worse.

One should never enter an art award ‘blind’. Research is required into every aspect of the ward in question. It is during this time of ‘research’ that you should get some ideas of what (historically) the judges are looking for. Very few awards have the same judges year after year, but the criteria are usually fixed to some degree.

This doesn’t mean that you paint what is ‘required’, but that you paint with each award’s criteria in mind. Most awards encourage ‘cleverness and uniqueness’ and being ‘different’, will often mean being noticed by those in authority.

Why do artists enter awards?


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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8 Responses to REJECTION Part 1.

  1. You are absolutely right Richard, but even despite good research you can never account for a judge’s taste on the day. I used to get very disappointed if i didnt win prizes, nowadays i am happy yo be hung, a prize is a nice bonus! I like the above artwork very much, very strong and beautifully balanced.

  2. Edna says:

    I agree with you Richard – we aritists have to have thick skins and be a bit brave when entering work to be judged either by our peers, academics, administrators or by the public. The higher the prize money the higher the risk. When looking at the winners of the Glover Prize over the 9 years there is a sort of predictability and a precedence there which may or may not be guidelines for judges. For example, although there are many ‘left of field’ abstract interpretations amongst all the finalists there are proportionally few amongst the winning entries.
    I think that it is very important to research art prizes to see what the guidelines are but from there onwards the mystery begins as to whose work judges choose and for what reasons. I think there is a large element of ‘chaos theory’ in the mix because of unknown factors each year such as what State and what institution the judges come from because even in Tasmania there are different north/south academic aesthetics.
    But I suppose we all have our theories.

  3. gerryart says:

    Great commentary Richard. And so true. Why enter awards? -well I think it’s a must if you want to get your art out into the public arena. it’s great if you a. Get accepted if it is a selecte exhibition b. win an award and c. If you sell. Coping with rejection is part of our growth as artists I remember Robert WAde saying he has been rejected from some exhibitions and won the main award in the next one he entered with the same painting so it is not that your work isn’t good enough it just the foibles of selecters and the criteria they set. And if we get dejected by not getting into an exhibition remember there is always the next one – winning, selling etc is a buzz but like rejection it only lasts a little while and then we move on to the next. But don’t stop painting.

  4. I am a bit surprised that your entry was not accepted (not because I have a bias), I really thought you had something they would be looking for. My daughter and I are very, very keen observers of the Glover and have kept every catalogue since it’s inception. While it is not possible to predict 100%, there is a certain formula for the pieces included. I do believe that the judges do a good job selecting a broad cross representation of interpretation of the Glover brief. As I said, I really thought you were hitting the mark with your entry. It will be very interesting to see the final exhibition and I can’t wait. I am growing to like your current explorations of “landscape” but I am running out of wall space!

    • artkleko says:

      I agree with your comments concerning the Glover Tanya. It is not a easy task to select only 43 paintings from around 300 entries.
      It ‘s time for Craig to add some rooms to your house!

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