Artists, Now Hear This!

October 11, 2009


A friend recently stood up in an artists meeting, introduced herself and said ‘ I have been rejected from 3 shows this month’ or something like that.  It got everyone’s attention and before she finished what she was saying everyone was applauding her courage for announcing this to all.  Her point is something that I am always trying to get across to artists: that rejection doesn’t have anything to do with how good your work is.  It has more to do with the jurors on the panel that time, what else was submitted and how your work looked in that pool.  Next year, it will be a different set of jurors, a different pool of works and your work might stand out more to that set of jurors.  YOU NEVER KNOW!

Having been a juror many times and curator of a gallery for a number of years, I know of what I speak.  I have seen work come across my desk that is perfectly good work but I’m trying to put together a show that will bring people in to see it, so I’m not always just looking for that body of work that illustrates what the show is about and hitting every technical aspect of our criteria.  Often I might have an idea of an artist or two picked out and then it’s a question of what other work will fit into that collection.   If I don’t get people to come into the gallery, there isn’t any business to be had, right?

As my friends know, I don’t go for blood and guts kind of work.  It doesn’t inspire me and I don’t find it particularly appealing so I would be the juror that would not care for your Goth piece, for example.  I might still vote for it if it rounds out the show by illustrating another, unusual angle on what the show is about but not all jurors might do that.   I am also not inspired by work that is created just to generate shock.  I find it predictable and pedestrian but that’s just me.  I think most jurors look for art that attracts your attention and brings it back again and again.  I call this story.  Art that tells a story in 2 seconds isn’t looked at for very long and often doesn’t make it into a show either. So really think about story in your work. This is a major key of good, unique art for me.

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3 Responses to “Artists, Now Hear This!”

  1. marie s said

    Lovely post my dear!

  2. Pat Burns said

    Right on! Even in commission pieces that I’m doing these days, I demand to have the say-so in content and how it is presented. If it doesn’t tell a story to me, I know I can’t create that ‘conversation’ between the painting and the viewer that brings you back over and over again. I like for at least one of two things to happen: 1)the viewer to either be seeing a relationship within the painting that he can identify with or understand or 2)the viewer be emotionally drawn into a relationship with the painting. If both happens, I’ve hit a home run!

  3. meredith11 said

    Hi Pat,
    You are one of the rare artists that knows well enough to speak up and interject story on commission work. Excellent! I used to be a graphic designer and commission work was the name of the game. It was the pits because of the commercial aspect – the client was always right so I didn’t get to do that. Good for you! Artists know what they’re doing and should always take confidence that they do.

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