I have completed my duties as juror for the Summer edition of Visual Overture’s Emerging Artists competition. Whew! What an experience. I’ve juried many art contests and been on selection panels before, but this one was different… in a good way.
First and foremost, I was the lone juror. I wasn’t a member of juror panel, and I didn’t have to play politics with a group of jurors to defend and get the pieces I wanted selected (fyi: large juror panels are hell – and usually result in a wash-down selection of art). I mention this first because it leads to a very important aspect for all entrants to be aware of. First, to the 148 artists who entered this specific competition: My personal tastes played a big part in the ultimate “winners”. There were many great submissions worthy of being finalists. But, when push comes to shove, I picked the pieces that were both meritorious AND spoke to my particular tastes. For example, I’m a sucker for good portraits. When done well, I believe portraiture is one of the most intriguing genres. Luckily, for me, there were a number of good portraits submitted.
Secondly, the specific jurying process for this competition required a lot of me as I had to grade every portfolio submitted. Often in competitions like this one, portfolios are given a single 1-10 score simply to cull out the weaker entries and boil down the top contenders. It is a single score. But the VO competition has six categories that required a grade. All 148 portfolios were graded in six different categories. For you math geeks, that’s 888 individual grades. It was a lot of work, but the result was worth it. I was forced to look at every portfolio (3-6 pieces per artist – most artists submitted 6 images), and analyze it 6 different ways. Bottom line: Everyone got a full examination and equal consideration. The result made for a far more thoughtful and diverse collection of 7 artists (and three honorable mentions).
My next post will delve deeper into the six graded categories. Because of the process, I learned a little more about how I “judge” art, and I believe sharing what I experienced can be helpful to all visual artists who ever consider submitting work – to a competition or while seeking representation. Stay tuned.
Until then, I encourage you to subscribe to Visual Overture. Not only will you get to see all the results, but you will get a number of informative and helpful articles.