To Compete or not to compete...
Art competitions are a complicated topic. There is much more to be said than what I'm about to share here. But as the dates for the local art prize approaches, I thought it worthwhile to comment a little about why I DO and DON'T recommend competitions to my students.
In a nutshell:
To enter an art competition of ANY description, you need to be prepared to receive 'feedback'. Once you display your work in a public arena, EVERY person who views it feels entitled to pass judgement. Suddenly everyone is an expert. Don't expect these views to stay private, or even censored. As EXPERTS, they will tell you where you went wrong, pointing out all perceived flaws with an air of authority. This can, and does, crush the joy and inspiration of many artists.
My advice to anyone considering entering an art prize is ENTER AT OWN RISK. Ensure you have your suit of armour on at all times, especially when collecting your work. And remember, the only feedback with any weight is the judges. AND the only OPINION that matters, IS YOUR OWN.
Are you proud of your work?
Can you appreciate the growth it shows since your last work/ year/ competition?
Are you at peace with the areas you see that need developing?
For those that can answer yes;
Are you willing to be wrong? -are you willing to consider the 'constructive' feedback you may receive?
So why enter?
Art Competitions provide a platform to showcase your work, when you are ready to be in the public eye.
Perhaps you want to start selling your work or offering your artistic services to the community. Art Prizes give you the opportunity to test the waters, to get honest public responses (particularly if the only others who have seen your work are perhaps biased, such as family members).
You might have hit a plateau and are looking to grow and develop your art (particularly if you have no teacher or mentor that you connect with). The feedback might be helpful, you may be lucky enough to speak to the judge and request a direct critique. Just seeing your work alongside others' can draw your attention to factors you hadn't noticed before.
You might simply be 'in it to win it' and there is nothing at all wrong with that. Throw your hat in the ring and see how you go. But make sure you have first considered how it might affect you if you do/ don't win.
Beyond all these reasons, if you are looking to join a community of artists, putting yourself out there, attending the opening nights, mingling and appreciating the other works and artists that are represented, can bring friendships, future collaborations, and a moral support network that otherwise may remain untapped.
So DO...or DON'T; just know that standing naked before strangers will require courage and a level of objectivity.