3/24/10

sub (ad)mit

tell me it isn't just me. i really want to hear what it is like for you guys when you decide to submit work somewhere. this happens to me every single time i attempt it....i spend days searching for a place that is a) actually accepting submissions b) is close enough i can afford to drop off work to and c) appears to at least have similar tastes in work so my art even has a chance once submitted. so when that criteria has been met, i go about finding which works to submit and going about making my word doc. (which always turns into a 3 hour ordeal for me) and making a cd of the images. i put it in the envelope and then something says WAIT. just wait a day.

and after a day, i go back to the site and check and realize that my work isn't appropriate. or i didn't select pieces that make sense. coulda woulda shoulda. it NEVER feels right. EVER. i dread doing it, am convinced that everything i have submitted is done horribly wrong and have yet to get any results this way. granted i haven't done it that many times. what has worked is when i know a place that is already aware of what i do and slightly interested. then i'm good to go. i can breeze in and be confident and always land some wall space. maybe no one enjoys submitting work. i dont think it has anything to do with 'attitude' or being 'positive' as much as we all have our own way of getting 'in'. some people are better at sounding academic and self important on paper than in real life. better? maybe just more comfortable and at ease with that mode of communique.

and how could i not see that i wasn't even applying to a GALLERY as much as a retail gift shop? am i really avoiding this that much that i'm not paying attention anymore? when you keep trying to walk a straight line and cannot ~ what do you? i think that if you try something and consistently hate it or screw it up then that probably isn't for you. to keep doing something that i think i should do probably isn't healthy. OR, is this what i'm not getting...you just do it and forget about it. dont give it so much thought. just fill those application forms out or send off your artist CV and wash your hands of it. is that the secret? blast the world with your work and hope one of the seeds flies into some ripe soil? honestly that never occurred to me. maybe there is hope.

i would love to hear your thoughts/feelings/experiences about this. what do you love, hate, fear about blind submissions. have you found a formula that works? things to absolutely avoid when submitting? have a good story/bad story? i want to know!

9 comments:

San said...

As you know, I'm coming from the other side, being a gallery owner. But since I'm also a painter, I realize how tough it is to put your work out there for consideration, so I try to get back to artists promptly. If I immediately feel that our gallery isn't the right venue, I get back and tell them that. If I'm wondering, I get back and say I want to keep the materials on file. Once in a blue moon, something jumps out and screams THIS IS RIGHT FOR US, and we go from there. But even then, sometimes it doesn't work out, meaning, the work doesn't sell after all.

One thing I believe gallery owners need to do is refrain from saying the work "isn't right." The truth is, the gallery may not be the right venue for the work, but it's not appropriate to claim the work's not right.

I find that most artists appreciate a prompt response that is phrased in an encouraging manner. But less professional ones send out mass, impersonal emails and don't even bother to thank a gallery for their response. What they don't realize is, when we have second thoughts about someone's work, when they've been positive to us, we feel more inclined to look at their work in the file.

Don't know if this is relevant to your question, Paula. If it helps you, though, try to imagine a person looking at your submission, a person who may be having a bad day, or a good day, and this will affect their decision. Don't worry about coming across as academic or serious. Come across as a hard-working artist who's hungry to sell your work. That's a human approach. IMHO.

paula said...

thank you san...i love hearing your input especially since you are on both sides of this.
what you said in the end about just showing i am hungry and eager to show my work resonates with me and gives me hope. its encouraging that you dont feel i need to seem so academic etc. thanks for your comment!

deb said...

bad day to ask me, just got rejected by another residency... I don't know how to improve my applications, I don't know why my work isn't "as good" as the work that gets accepted, I just know it makes me think maybe I should keep my damn day job and give it all up. I don't have a whole lot of luck with juried shows either, so I guess my advice wouldn't be worth the cyberspace its written on today :(

paula said...

makes me wonder is it possible to find out...have you ever been able to ask and get an answer as to why you were rejected? you sound so dejected deb, i'm sorry. i guess there isn't much to say to make you feel better even though i'm thinking of the successes you have shared before online so i know your work belongs in the world. hugs!

andrea said...

I must admit that I've had very little luck with the traditional submissions route and haven't actually made a submission for a couple of years because of it. I have actually had anonymous responses addressed to "Dear _____" (they forgot to fill it in), showing how impressed they were with my work. :) I have heard that a good route is to simply choose galleries who you think would fit, ignore the submission process and restrictions, and send them a postcard of your work with your website URL on the back and a polite handwritten message. If you don't hear from them then no skin off your nose and if they have the sort of WOW reaction San mentioned, then they'll contact you. I've never tried this, so no idea if it works.

paula said...

andrea, you remind me (why do i keep forgetting) that so far i have NEVER heard of anyone getting into a gallery by a blind submission. and to even hear back i suppose just shows good faith, but if they send anonymous responses....yikes.
maybe the postcard is the way to go. at least they are seeing images for a nano second and holding a small thing that doesn't take as much effort/$$/time.
thanks for your feedback!

Melody said...

Love Andrea's idea..... as usual. I've spent so much of my time submitting to galleries that I feel would be a great fit for my work and I mean my packages have been totally professional. If I"m lucky I'll hear back which is rare... mostly nothing. Sometimes I look at some of the artists that they are representing and I just don't get it...not to say that their work isn't good but mine is just as good. Wish I had the magic formula because believe me I'd be using it. I think sending the postcard with a few good images is worth the shot and it doesn't take up the amount of time putting together that professional package does that unfortunately doesn't seem appreciated ......

Melody said...

Oh, and I meant to mentiion.....another great post!

paula said...

i hear ya melody...i am often so non-plussed by work i see in galleries that it is beyond me how they sell art. i can't speak for you, but me being a mixed media artist nothing personal, but i feel like its always inundated with painting/collage or sculpture that i know why bother at half the places.
i'm thinking maybe i'm fine not submitting....i go through this about once a year when i'm feeling panicky about sales online.
glad you liked the post...thanks for you input!