Monday, May 7, 2012

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor


Recently I was honored to be on the jury for the Metal Clay Artist Magazine (MCAM) annual metal clay design competition along with Celie Fago and Joy Funnell. The entries were many and the choosing was tough. There were about eight entries I would have liked to award the prize to. Of course when the jury is comprised of two or more individuals, a compromise has to be made. But I'd like to congratulate each and every artist who took the time to enter this wonderful competition. I'm serious when I say that sending off a CD of your images is a huge step to take, and every single person who puts themselves and their art on the line in this way should be proud of their accomplishment.

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Submitting is never easy, even for the pros. Intentionally allowing your work to be scrutinized by total strangers is a potentially agonizing experience. We put so much of ourselves into each and every piece of jewelry we make. We think it's perfect, and it's sometimes hard to understand why another viewer might have a different opinion. Unfortunately the people doing the judging are not able to hold the entries, examine their construction, and feel the care taken with finishing. As miraculous as large format dpi photographs are, and as clear as online resolution has become, neither tells the story of an object as well as being able to hold it in your hands.

Which is why it's so very important to do absolutely everything you can to let your submission materials tell the tale. Of course the photograph is arguably most important thing to get right. But making sure you follow the guidelines set out by the entity sponsoring the contest is paramount. Each competition will have different rules. Each will have certain criteria that they're looking for. Ignoring any aspect of the guidelines is enough to add your submission to the cutting room floor.

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In the case of the MCAM competition, besides fabulous photographs, we asked that each entry be creative, show a high level of originality, effectively incorporate another material into the metal clay design and not have won or placed in another competition. In addition, we wanted to know the inspiration behind the piece, the construction details, and what materials were used. Photographs were to be labeled with specific information, in a specific format. If any of these criteria were left off, we had no choice but to disqualify the entry.

Considering all the variables and the stress of completing a submission, it might be a good idea to have a friend or loved one look over your package before you drop it in the mail. Or you might want to make a check list of all the requirements and tick each off as you complete it. I always make a word document of requested information and put it on the CD with my images in case the paper entry form gets lost along the way.

Overall, making submissions is a skill. And as with all skills, you perfect them the more you put them into practice. So my advice to all artists is to search out calls for entry, send out the most comprehensive and exciting package you can, and prepare yourself for the day when you get a congratulatory response!

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