Think Like a Judge When Entering Art Competitions

by guest blogger John R. Math

Considering whether to enter art competitions? These important points will help you choose wisely and put together your best submission.


Think Like a Judge


It is very difficult for most artists when entering an art competition to evaluate their entries objectively. Questions which come to mind are: Will my art measure-up to everyone else’s? Is my style of art what they are looking for? Is my work good enough to be accepted? What are my reasons for entering this competition? Am I entering this art competition for validation, exposure or for the prize money? These questions can stress an artist to the point of paralysis!

In order to proceed further, the artist needs to make a determination as to their exact purpose for and objective in entering this art competition. Does it meet the artist’s needs?

Is this a judged event or is this a juried event? Or a local, regional or international event? What is the theme or subject? What type of art organization is conducting this event? These questions should be answered prior to entering any art competition.

How to Know if the Competition is Right for You

A judged art event means the art selected will be evaluated and ranked for recognition against other art that was submitted. Many local, small or regional art events are handled this way.

In a juried art event, a panel or group of judges determine whether the art submitted is to be included in the event or not. This type of selection process is used for larger art competitions. The juried event is subject to a variety of influences: artistic tastes of the jurors, the politics of the local and larger art world, relationships with sponsoring parties. The results may or may not produce a high level show.

A non-juried show is one that will include all entries submitted. These are usually conducted by art membership organizations, artist registries and invitational art events. These are a great way for new artists to begin, but don’t carry as much weight on a resume as a judged or a juried event.

Some art shows combine judged and juried art processes. Art is juried into the event, and thereafter selected art is judged.

Different judges evaluate art differently. Some who look at and evaluate art all day respond to new and unusual art. They look for and respond to the “Wow Factor”.

Art collectors, art consultants and buyers who are judges are usually more conservative and “safe” in their evaluations and selections. This is how they buy and collect art.

A judge, who is also an artist, will be more critical of art within their specialty or in the media which they also employ. The rationale for this is that they will not select art in their genre/style that is not as good as their own art.

Many times we see artists who research the judges in order to match their style of art with the judge’s. This can backfire, as that judge will be more critical and subjective about that art than another judge with a different artistic genre/style.

Application Essentials

To me, the following are the most important determining factors for getting into an art show or art exhibition:

  1. Follow the Competition Rules and Prospectus Exactly.
  2. Submit Art Only Within the Subject or Theme of the Event.
  3. Provide the Best Quality Images Possible.
  4. Enter the Maximum Amount Entries Allowed.

No matter what we like to think, the judging process will come down to a subjective decision by the judge. If your art is not selected, it really does not mean much. The next time you enter that same art into another art competition, with another judge, the results may be totally different for you.

After the selections have been made, whether your art is in or out, review the entries that were selected and objectively evaluate that art against your own. This may help you with the direction of your art for the future.

Do not ever give up entering more art competitions. Be smart about it, do some research and remember to think like a judge in order be more successful when entering future art competitions.


Guest blogger John R. Math is a fine art photographer and the founder of Light Space & Time Online Gallery.



Want to stay current on cutting edge business articles from Artsy Shark, plus artist features, and an invitation to the next Call for Artists? Click below to sign up for our twice-monthly email. You’ll get all this plus opportunities and special offers that you can’t get anywhere else!

Sign Up For Updates!


  1. Be aware. There are unscrupulous judges and jurors that often turn a blind eye on quality in favor of what they deem will be the most controversial or outlandish pieces of art. They figure that, as long as the entry fees pay them, and satisfy those in charge, Oh well!

  2. Most Judges and Jurors volunteer their time and expertise to art competitions and shows. They take their task seriously and they are very diligent in following the judging criteria for that particular competition. It is not an easy job to perform and they should be applauded for giving their time, expertise and overall professionalism.

  3. “If your art is not selected, it really does not mean much.”
    Same thing if your art IS selected.

    Save your money.

Speak Your Mind