Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why I don't enter on-line contests (and an old painting!)

48  F  some sun, some clouds.
This is a view of Mt. Anthony from the Bennington College campus, It was painted in the spring of 1980 (I think).

   I'm leading this blog post with this photo because, why not! I've had it kicking around for thirty five years, and so often wondered why I wasn't painting, so yeah, I was 17 years old when I painted it......

    Why I don't enter on-line contests:

   I have very limited time and money,  first priority is my family. My wife works full time plus, and I have two school aged daughters that dance and play soccer: my whole schedule revolves around them. Next is painting, but not just painting, preparing, getting supplies, taking photos, sending out  jpegs, and the actual work, etc.... after that I've got a litany of other tasks we could call my previous life, but it's not fully previous, yet....

    I have to use my resources wisely & I don't play the lottery. I want real people to see my work, in real, brick and mortar places, and I want to stay within an hour's drive of my home.  I might actually want to meet these same people, (even though I'm not a very social person).  I will pay entry fees and send out jpegs for juried shows that meet the above criteria. But there are a lot of "National" juried shows I don't touch, and the on-line contests, not with a ten foot pole! why: it's a total waste of time and money. I think a lot of what I see coming out of those shows is way over cooked and sugar-coated. The fees are high and my time to deal with it is limited. (I mean I'm blogging now....)

    I'm confident in my work and the progress I'm making. So far I've done cafe's City Hall, non-profit spaces and fund raising events. I'm represented in one commercial gallery that I like, and I have this blog and you, my faithful reader.  I'm working on slowly expanding my geographic area with shows and galleries.  I live in a rural in upstate NY, but I'm not far from Saratoga and Albany, NY, Manchester and Bennington, VT, and Williamstown, MA . all these places have galleries, both commercial and non-profit that I'd like to show in, and there not too far.

    My organizational skills are limited at best and it seems that marketing is based on this skill,  I wear boots everyday, and sometimes it feels like I'm at camp when I'm not. I don't need to pay anyone to tell me I'm un-organized and "should" be doing something else, or something differently, I know that already!  Just this month I've had two un-solicited invitations to exhibit work, one very local, the other within my region, I felt very honored to be asked!  They are not prestigious nor will they guarantee sales, but they will give me the expanded opportunity to show my work to my neighbors and colleagues, and as Tip O'Neil said all politics are local, and my work is local, so I will be a local, and it will be good.

    Someday I may be able to market my work or pay for some help, I may change my mind and enter some of these "National" shows, but for now I really think there are more and better opportunities out there that are well worth the time and effort, and that don't take my money faster than a click of the mouse.


  1. Well said, I agree on almost everything. except for the real people.
    I pinced myself and it actually hurt so i'm guessing Im real as well.

    I like the internet for showing my work, not so much as a marketing
    tool,but exactly the same as you, I too have more to do then just painting, ...

  2. I think it all becomes about life choices and priorities, where and how I use my financial resources determines my personal freedoms. I want to dedicate as much time to painting as I can and I and the wife like to travel. That makes us happy. My email is stuffed weekly with online exhibition invitations, some may be very reputable and worth the effort. I just do not energy nor the resources to sort through it all.
    From my readings of your blog, you seem to be fairly happy, with how things are going.
    “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
    Henry David Thoreau

  3. About your old painting: it is also nice, but I prefer your newer ones, maybe because of their impressionistic touch. ;-)

    About on-line contests, juried shows, etc.: after participating in one of them two years ago, I have come to the conclusion that it is a waste of money, time and energy for me. I also work full time as a translator + an artist, and like for every one of us, my day has 24 hours (and my priority is also the family).

    Those contests and shows are often organized by so-called “vanity galleries”, that are eager to get new names and mail addresses of artists to take contact with them (like in my case): “Sorry, you have not been selected this time, but maybe try next year. Or you could consider paying [astronomic amount] USD to exhibit in our gallery.” Even the free online contests are for me a waste of time. I sometimes look quickly to see what other create, but so often, I am shocked to see the works that have been selected. I do not understand the criteria, so there is no use for me participating. And reading the terms of most photo contests was for me another shock: I am not willing to give up all rights about any picture of mine just to get a pathetic price of XXX USD or EUR.

    But Internet can be a useful tool to me, as I like physically in an area where there is a lot of sun and landscape but little culture and even less money. Many people here are jobless or earn little money, galleries are very scarce or are vanity galleries… Bars and restaurants are most of the time situated along the beach, for Northern European guests who want to spend 2 weeks in the sun, or small bars for locals where soccer is running on a big screen, not the best environment to show any kind of art. There are other places (like the bookshop where I had an exhibition last summer), but very few of them. That’s why I also try to reach another audience through the web, because people who could like what I do are not necessarily living all around me. But – I believe that getting known needs time (and a lot of marketing work): I am like a plant that grows organically and not like a Facebook group or Twitter account that grows within one day (to be closed the day after, who knows).

    Like you, Matt, I am confident in my work, in my own way, without overestimated it. Being nice and honest is for me the only way to go. Art is something I have to enjoy. I have to think, to rest, to do it twice, to reflect on it... If it was just a question of making money, I would probably paint the same fishing boat on the shore over and over again from the same picture and sell it at tourists for 20 €. But it would not be art for me, I would not feel happy.

    It is interesting: you say you are a local painter, and I consider myself as a citizen of the world, living in a foreign country, and, as a translator, working with and for clients/colleagues who live everywhere but here where I am physically.
    But nevertheless, I have the impression that your philosophy is not so different than mine. I am sure this is the right way for us.

    @Jim: This is a very good quotation, thank you.

  4. Hi Rene' Jim and Chani, thanks for your thoughtful comments on this subject, I do very much appreciate my on-line friends, present company included! I do think that an on-line presence helps local contacts, although I understand the local scene might not be all that great, maybe over time you'll get opportunities just a few more miles away.
    embrace the local and you'll be of the world, nice quote Jim!