In an earlier post I reminded artists that many important grants are awarded through an anonymous nominations procedure, noting that if we don’t know about your work we can’t nominate you. I want to add this thought: when considering entering competitions, which takes time, and money – I urge you to ask yourself if the JURORS are individuals that can move your career forward. Do your homework – not just on the competion sponsors but perhaps more importantly on those individuals who will spend time looking carefully at your submission. Observe their professional affiliations (i.e. the magazines they edit, the gallery they direct, the collection they may serve as curator for, and so forth). Based on what you learn, if you feel they would respond positively to your work, DO invest in putting your work in front of them – and doing this via juried competitions can begin a professional relationship.
Additionally, if the competition you are considering entering will circulate the work more broadly than a gallery or museum presentation, i.e. through an on-line presentation of winners, and/or a publication featuring the winning entries, all the better.
Lastly, consider the COST to enter. My feeling is that fees charged by organizing venues are used to quite literally produce the competition – from flying in/feeding/housing distinquished jurors, renting judging space/tables/light/LCD projectors and other equipment, securing PR for the show and producing a catalogue on-line, on CD-Rom or in print. Personally I am happier when there is a flat fee and one set number of images that may be presented per submitting artist, rather than being able to pay more and gain more “exposure” in front of the juror(s). If you have questions about how any aspect of juried competitions are to be judged (i.e. will images be projected, or not), and how the winners will be promoted, do not hesitate to call and inquire. The more questions you ask, the better the chances are that next year’s application information will be more clearly spelled out.
I hope this perspective helps you sort through the maze of competitions to enter; know that on this blog I will suggest those I feel of great value to you and your career.