How To Choose What To Submit to Calls for Art

Applying for art opportunities can be daunting. Specto is here to help dispel some mystery about the process and offer advice to new and seasoned alike. These tips are great for beginners or professionals hoping to brush up on their applications. 

Last week we covered how to choose a call for art. Check it out here

Part 2: How to Choose the Right Pieces

After deciding what shows you are going to apply for, the next step is choosing what pieces you are going to apply with. This is your chance to make an impression, so don't be afraid of being harsh on yourself and challenge yourself to edit and question. 

Make Cohesive Choices

If you're having a hard time deciding what to submit for an application, always lean towards cohesion. You want everything you submit to go well together and display your unique artistic voice. Say you have up to 10 images to submit, but you only have 8 photos that you really like and go well together. Submit just the 8 images. Adding the extra two might seem like a good idea, more is better right? Not always. Those two may detract from the 8 and make the reviewer confused. 

You can also submit with two smaller bodies of cohesive work. Say you can submit up to 10 images but can't decide between the black and white landscapes or the portrait series. Submit both. Choose the best 5 of each set and submit those. This allows you to show two different options, but also show the best you have. 

Do Your Homework

A lot of art opportunities can be very specific in what they want. Some places will not consider you if you don't follow their directions to the finest detail, so watch out. One careless mistake can cost you an opportunity and an entry fee. 

Make a list of all the required documents and deadlines so you don't miss out on any possible opportunities. If you plan on applying to several calls for art keep reformatted files, necessary documents, and your resume in one place. Resizing and naming files can leave you with copies on copies on copies of similar files. Avoid this by keeping all necessary files contained to one place. 

Reformatting Images

Most calls for art will have specific file requirements. These can be a real pain, but they are important to pay attention to, because like I've said, you don't want to be rejected without your work being seen!

Calls for art will usually specify how large your file can be, what format it needs to be in, and how it is named. 

  • Size: resizing files can be a pain, especially if you are an artist that doesn't use computers much. DPI or PPI is a term you may see in association with apply. This is a term that refers to the resolution of the file on hand. PPI is how many pixels are present per inch, lower numbers are smaller files, but these files usually still look fine on a screen. When printed low DPI/PPI prints will be blurry or pixelated. Larger resolution files print better. 
  • Name: rename your files to the necessary format, sometimes things like Lastname_Firstname. Even if no file name is necessary it's still a good idea to rename your files into something uniform. This can help the organization to handle your files more easily and can help reduce potential problems. 
  • Crop: If applying with photographed 3D pieces, make sure to crop out any unneccessary parts of your photos. Try to photograph your pieces on a neutral or white background, and crop out anything extra. Use natural light from a window for quick and easy beautiful lighting. 

Reformatting photos can be done with several programs, but our favorite at Specto is Adobe Lightroom. You can access this via creative cloud subscription. It costs money, but can be worth it! Adobe can be overwhelming but Lightroom is very user friendly. This program allows you to resize, rename, and crop photos in an efficient manner. Lightroom allows you to resize images and set specific. 


Artists Statements

When choosing a body of work, its always good to consider your artists statements. A lot of artists can find artist statements to be a daunting task, but these documents can give you an edge when applying for shows. Artist statements allow you more space to explain why you deserve to have your work seen.

When structuring an artist statement be creative, but make sure to hit the main points important to your body of work. Why have you created this? What is the purpose? Is there something specific you are trying to say? Why have you made the choices you have? What do you want the viewers to think about when looking at this work?

We'll be posting a more in depth post about writing artist statements in the future, so keep an eye out for that.