A Guide to Art Calls

by guest blogger Mickey Bond

A comprehensive look at types of art calls, and what you need to know to respond to them.


Gallery display


Peruse art call listings on artshow.com; CaFE™ Call Listings; art deadlines list; or Zapplication, you’ll find a great variety of calls from art festivals, to online shows, international calls, regional juried shows, museum shows, calls for exhibition proposals and more.

Some calls are short and sweet, asking for work in one medium only such as drawing or photography; others have themes or are only presented online. Here is a simple guide (with examples of posted calls) to the most common types of shows and tips to help you decide if a particular call category is right for you:

Short & Sweet Art Calls

These calls are simple and straightforward. A gallery, art center or other space plans a show and posts a call for work. If themed, the topics are usually open-ended, and shows generally run for two weeks to a month. Entry fees are reasonable and there may or may not be a juror or cash awards. Below are two examples. The first is a genre-based show calling for photography, and the second is an online exhibition. Both calls are easy to understand and open to all artists.

BLACK AND WHITE WITH JUROR JASON LANDRY (Posted: 1/22/14) — The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado announces a call to artists for a juried photography exhibition, May 23 – July 12, 2014. Cash awards, a feature in the exhibition catalog, an artists’ lunch and portfolio share with the juror, and more. The exhibition is open to all photographers world wide, both amateur and professional. All Black and White imagery is eligible for submission. This includes alternative process, traditional, digital, toned black and white images, and all post-production techniques. Images must be printed and framed or mounted professionally. No colored mats or frames, unless you obtain prior approval. To encourage participation by photographers from around the world, the Center offers optional professional printing and framing services. Additional details provided upon request. Members: $20 for the first five images. Non-Members: $35 for the first five images. Additional images are $10 each. Deadline: February 26, 2014. Visit website for prospectus. Questions? Please contact Sunshine Divis at [email protected] or call 970-224-1010.

Tips: In encouraging international applications, the photography exhibit is likely to be quite competitive. That said, art centers, especially those geared toward education, are open to artists of all levels. Indeed, according to the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins’ website: “We welcome all forms of photography, from hand-built cameras to modern digital processes.  The themes are open to artist interpretation and this freedom brings amazing results. The Center shows innovative imagery and emerging creative trends with each new show. We welcome all levels of photographic artists to submit their work.”  It’s always a good idea to learn what you can about the venue posting the call and about the juror if one is listed. At $35.00 for the review of five images (many shows cost more for only 3 images) this show is a reasonably priced option for emerging and more advanced photographers, especially those working with unusual techniques.

4TH ANNUAL “CITYSCAPES” ONLINE JURIED ART COMPETITION (Posted: 1/23/14) — Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery seeks entries for an online art exhibition, March 1-31, 2014. Extensive worldwide publicity and promotion to the winning artists. Juror: John R Math. All 2D artists (including photography) from around the world are invited to make online submissions for possible inclusion into the Gallery’s March 2014 online group art exhibition. $12.00 for 1 to 2 entries & $20.00 for 3 to 5 entries. Deadline: February 24, 2014. Online submissions only. Questions? Please contact John R Math at [email protected] or call 888-490-3530.

Tips:  Online shows are a growing opportunity for artists working in all genres. Light Space & Time is an online gallery with monthly themed contests designed “to help new and emerging artists gain competition experience in applying for and participating in our juried art competitions.” It’s a good way to get started entering shows, as there are no shipping costs, size or weight restrictions. $12.00 for 1 to 2 entries & $20.00 for 3 to 5 entries is not an expensive investment, even as a learning experience.

Calls for Themed Shows

For these calls you’ll find a specific theme listed, often described with adjectives or examples. The first call listed “Magic” offers the following words of inspiration in the prospectus: “illusion, alchemy, bewitchment, conjuring, enchantment, incantation, prophecy, spell, superstition, hocus-pocus, fascination, allurement, foreboding, taboo, deception, abracadabra.” The second show “For Every Season” provides a description of the theme: “Art in nature, and nature in art. In one way or another, nature has always been the preferential theme in art. Is it possible to go through life without the two? Whether it’s the use of natural materials in their work, or the visual representations of nature; artists make connections to nature. Las Laguna Gallery is looking for works by artists that exemplify the theme of nature and art.”

MAGIC (Posted: 1/11/14) — A Smith Gallery in Johnson City, TX seeks entries for an international juried photography exhibition, May 2 to June 14, 2014. $825 in awards. Juror: Fran Forman. Open to all photographers working in all mediums. $30 for first 5 images, $6 for each additional image. Deadline: March 17, 2014. Visit website for prospectus. Questions? Please contact Amanda Smith at [email protected] or call 512-422-4080.

Tips: Note that this show is for photographers only and has a developed theme. For any themed show, it can be helpful to look the theme up in a thesaurus and/or look at images related to the theme in Pinterest or a book about the subject. Seeing how other artists handle the subject can help you hone your own perspective and avoid cliches.

For Every Season, 577 S. Coast Highway A-1, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 All local, national and international artists, professional and amateur and multiple art mediums will be considered in this call for art.* From photography to fabric, mixed media, all paintings and drawings including, oil, acrylic, ink, graphite, pastels, etc. The work must be able to be hung on a wall to be considered. No work that requires special installation or instructions will be accepted. * Sorry no sculptures or jewelry at this time. Deadline for Submissions: March 16, 2014. http://www.laslagunagallery.com/

Tips: This call offers an image, title, and a definition of its theme. Consider all three when interpreting the theme from your perspective. Note that use of natural materials as well as the pictorial representation of nature fit the theme and may offer you further possibilities. All media except sculpture and jewelry is eligible and artists of all levels are welcome to apply. As a curator, I always encourage artists to create new work for themed shows using materials and approaches that challenge them. It’s a great way to stretch yourself as an artist and potentially to create a new body of work. That’s one of the benefits of entering themed shows.

Calls for Museum Shows, Portfolio Reviews and Exhibition Proposals

These calls are certainly among the most competitive, as their venues are highly sought by all professional artists. There are no better resume builders, but that’s no reason not to try your luck at these competitions. Applications for portfolio reviews and exhibition proposals are more labor intensive than simple art calls and require artists to have a consistent body of work and a subject that appeals to the public, often with a cultural or educational aspect. If you are new to exhibition proposals, look for those that welcome group shows. There will be less pressure on each artist to carry the show with their artistic vision through ten or more pieces. By entering, artists working in different media are more likely to reach a broader audience. A good resource is to look online for sample exhibition proposals. Venues often have past successful proposals available for artists to read.

EXPRESSIONS OF THE NATURAL WORLD: JURIED EXHIBITION (Posted: 1/31/14) — The Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ announces a call to artists for a juried art exhibition, March 16 – May 4, 2014. Artists are sensitive to the natural world around them in ways that historically have amazed and intrigued. Observation and representation of color, light, form and patterns have given birth to entire art movements while organic and ecological artworks have raised our collective consciousness about human beings’ connection to the earth. Open to all artists world-wide age 18 and over. Artwork must be the artist’s original creations completed within the last five years, and must not have been exhibited in past Monmouth Museum exhibitions. All media considered through online submission of digital jpeg images only. Selections made by the Monmouth Museum Exhibition Committee. Non-refundable processing fee of $20 per piece entered (limit 4 pieces). Deadline: February 24, 2014 8pm EST. Visit website for prospectus. Questions? Contact Catherine Clark at [email protected] or call 732-224-1989.

Tips: This is a themed museum show curated by a committee. Take a look at the museum’s website and past exhibitions to get a sense of the range of work sought. A $20 entry fee per image is pricey. It is best to submit at least 3 images to a show and at $60, this call is not the best option for emerging artists or those with little experience entering shows. If you fit in that category but are eager to try your hand at a museum show, look for museums offering emerging artist programs. Eligibility is typically regional, so look for a museum or fine art center in your state. In fact, the Monmouth Museum has an emerging artist  program that “consists of six annual monthly solo exhibitions to showcase the new work of NJ artists who have not previously held one-person exhibitions in our state.” Another advantage of these programs is the opportunity for learning. “Selected artists are guided through the exhibition process, provided promotional materials and give an Artist’s Talk during their exhibition, offering the public insight into their artistic process.”

KREMPP GALLERY 2015 PORTFOLIO REVIEW FOR SHOWS Now reviewing portfolios for solo and group shows for 2015. Open to artists working in all medias. Professional, non-student artists only please. The Gallery provides invitations, press releases, honorarium, insurance coverage on-site, and reception where needed. The artist is responsible for framing, shipping and/or delivery. 30% commission. Minimum of 10 images for solo show, more for group show, along with artist statement and curriculum vitae. Digital images should be on CD. No online submissions. No entry fee. Details: 812-482-3070 OR http://www.jasperarts.org OR [email protected]

Tips: This is a call for mid-career and established artists as students are not eligible to enter. The Krempp gallery is part of the Jasper Arts Center in Jasper, Indiana. The gallery also holds juried shows eligible to all artists living in Indiana and it’s neighboring states of Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Interestingly, there is no entry fee but artists must submit a minimum of ten images via a CD. Many exhibition and portfolio calls still require submissions through the mail. The overall lack of information including the amount of the  “honorarium” (small stipend) provided suggests the gallery expects letters and calls of inquiry.


Osceloa Fall Art Festival


Calls for Art Festivals

Juried art festivals are quite different from all the other calls and categories listed above. Artists must bring their work to the location, set up their own booth and display materials, and be present and available to the public. Many shows require a booth shot, so if you’ve never participated in one you will have to set up your booth ahead of time and take pictures of your display. You may be required to provide your own lighting and will need a way to accept credit card payments using Paypal or Square from an iPhone or computer. Many of these shows are very competitive as well. The good news is that there are art festivals of differing levels all over the country. It’s a great way for artists to learn how to talk about their work to the public and potentially gain exposure with collectors. For the best listing of art festivals and more information about them consult Zapplication where you can apply online via one website.

MILL VALLEY FALL ARTS FESTIVAL (Posted: 2/3/14) — For 58 years The Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, held in Old Mill Park, a beautiful redwood grove in downtown Mill Valley, has been recognized as a fine art and craft show of high quality original artwork. The Festival draws well-educated buyers from nearby wealthy neighborhoods including the immediate Mill Valley and Marin Communities as well as the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The event held September 20-21, 2014 provides an exceptional opportunity for the sale of unique, creative and high-end work. Limited to 140 artists. $35 application fee. Deadline: April 15, 2014. Visit website for more information, standards requirements, and answers to FAQ. Questions? Contact Sarah Shriver at [email protected] or call 415-381-8090.

Tips: Limited to 140 artists, this is a competitive show in a popular location (greater San Francisco Bay Area). Like all outdoor art festivals, the weather plays a factor in the event and participating artists must be prepared, especially for wind which can lift a booth clear off the ground (plan on at least four 25+ pound weights to secure your booth). Artists submit work according to specified categories and are not allowed to sell more than one category per booth (no painting and jewelry, for example). Virtually all festivals will charge a booth fee, which varies depending on the size of the booth space. For this show, artists with an 8×8 foot booth pay $425, while those with booths 10×20 feet pay $1050. When you factor in the price of buying a booth, good quality display racks, travel and lodging, not to mention framing and material costs, you’ll find these shows require a sizable investment of both time and money. If you are trying out the experience consider applying to festivals which allow you to share a booth with another artist, or you might be able to borrow the booth set-up before purchasing your own.


Guest blogger Mickey Bond is a mixed media artist and curator of exhibitions and special events at Jay Etkin Gallery in Santa Fe and Memphis. 


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