Submitting: Some Dos and Don’ts

When I wrote about how I curate I had some thoughts on things artists do that make the curator’s life easier, and the things that, unfortunately, don’t go over as well. So, I thought I’d give a bit of submission advice this month, some basic “dos and don’ts,” if you will.

Dos and Don'ts

The Don’ts:

  • Dont’s submit to shows that your work doesn’t fit, read the prospectus carefully. You’d be amazed at the submissions I get for stitch shows – ceramics, photography… Save your money, only submit to shows for which you’re appropriate.
  • Similar, don’t submit to shows for which you’re not eligible. Many shows are regional, or student only, etc. Again, save your money and submit to shows which are right for you.
  • Don’t send images that misrepresent your work. Take pictures that show your work at its best, and let the curator know if there are framing changes, or if the colors are not well represented. Don’t set the curator up for surprises.
  • Don’t submit more pieces than the limit set by the curator.
  • Don’t nudge the curator, they’ll announce who’s in the show on the date established on the call for art. It’s nice when curators let you know even when you haven’t been accepted, but if you don’t hear from them, accept that you weren’t chosen and move on. You never know when your work will fit into another show they’re curating, and you don’t want them to remember that you were a pest.
  • Once you’ve been accepted into a show, don’t send works that weren’t accepted along with those that were; only send what the curator has accepted.
  • If someone is interested in purchasing work you’ve committed to a show, contact the gallery, don’t sell it if you’ve committed it to a show, especially if promotion for the show has begun and your work has been promoted.
  • Don’t commit to a show and then a month before the show become unavailable.
  • If you don’t want to sell your work, don’t show in commercial galleries. If you are going to show in commercial galleries, don’t set the prices so high (intentionally) so that they will not sell.

And finally,

  • For the love of all the gods, don’t use peanuts when packing – no one likes cleaning up peanuts.

Okay, that’s a lot of don’ts, but there’s a lot of dos too, and I want to end with the positive. First and foremost:

  • Do submit your art to shows!
  • Ask questions prior to submitting. Don’t be afraid to contact the gallery or curator, get clarification, and make sure the show is right for you.
  • Follow all guidelines, make sure your photos are correctly sized, provide an artist’s statement if one is called for, etc.
  • Make new works! Take chances! Submit to shows you think you wouldn’t get into, you’ll be surprised!
  • Be gracious; realize how many submissions curators get and how many people they’re dealing with.
  • Have fun! Push yourself! Get out there! Stitch rocks! When one of us rises, we all rise. Share your work!!!

There are more; every curator has their likes and dislikes. Please share if you have any other advice or agree or disagree with anything I’ve said. But mostly, keep stitching and I’ll see you in June!

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