It's a question I am asked fairly often, and something that many new artists feel is a requirement to be considered authentic. Art shows and competitions are certainly not a requirement, but they can provide you with valuable experience. Here are my top three things to consider before entering your work in an art show or competition:
1. Do your research. Every competition is different, so the first step is to be familiar with the one you are entering. Due date, file specifications, and entry fee are all things to be aware of, but it can also be beneficial to do a little sleuthing about the judges. If you're into realism but these judges tend to prefer abstract pieces, for example, you may be better off entering elsewhere.
2. Consider your investment. Most art shows and competitions require you to pay an entry fee, which is typically used to pay for the building, insurance for the event, and that fabulous cash prize you are hoping to earn. It's important to decide ahead of time how much you can afford to spend on an entry fee. If art is not your full time job (raising my own hand here!) then you might not have a whole lot of extra cash sitting around to spend on entry fees. And if you still consider yourself a beginner, it may be a better use of those limited dollars to invest in some higher quality supplies.
3. Have realistic expectations. Most artists don't find competitions to be an instant jump forward in their careers, but they can be a great way to network, bolster your resume, and generally get your name out there. And most importantly, be sure that you are in it for the joy of the experience!
So there you have it--3 considerations for entering art competitions. What would you add to the list?