How Art is Juried … and How to Get Better Results

by Carolyn Edlund

You’ve completed an application to an exhibition, show, festival or competition and hit “Send” while crossing your fingers. What are your chances with the jury?


Want to get better results in juried competitions? Check out this article on called "How Your Art is Juried and How to Get Better Results". Expert jurors share their best advice.


I’ve juried thousands of artists over the years, and always find it to be a challenging process – it can feel almost impossible to choose. There are so many worthy artists out there, and yet many applications must be turned down to determine the final selection. Quite often scores are close, and small details can make the difference between an acceptance and a rejection.

Getting rejected by the jury doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good – and even though it can be hard, try not to take it personally. If you feel you are rejected more frequently that you should be, take a close look at what you are submitting, and make adjustments in your strategy.

Here are some basics that set your work above the crowd when submitting:

A cohesive presentation

If your artwork is presented as a portfolio (such as jurying from a website, which I frequently do) everything that you present should work together. Including works of vastly different mediums, such as fiber art and photography, or using different styles, can become confusing. It may look like you can’t quite decide what it is you really want to do.

If you are “padding” your portfolio with old pieces in a very different style or medium (from art school perhaps) it’s time to clear them out. Show the direction that your work is taking with a clear presentation so that your collection makes impact.

A robust selection of work

If a portfolio is very small, it may leave the juror wanting. When there are only a few viable works, quite often I feel that I need to see more from the artist. Or, I may wonder if perhaps they are just beginning to create a body of work and should develop it further. I love to see a few dozen pieces in a strong signature style that shows the artist has worked deeply in their chosen direction.

Show your best art

When presenting a whole portfolio, you will be judged on the weakest piece of work that you have. This can pull down your score, or even get you juried out. Make sure that your portfolio is the best it can be, and keep your work current. If you aren’t submitting anything that you’ve made in the last few years, that can be a bit troubling. Have you taken a break from the studio? What are you doing now?

Use outstanding photographs

This is essential if you want to be taken seriously, and if you want to be juried in. Images which are unfocused, have glare, aren’t keystoned (squared) to the camera or have inappropriate backgrounds are killing your chances. This happens all the time {cringe}. Take a good look at your photos. Are they really excellent? Are they professionally taken? (or, can you take photos of this caliber?) Your competition, especially the artists who get consistently accepted to juried events, are presenting images with the “wow factor.”

Supporting materials

Can a well-written artist statement or an impressive exhibition history make the difference? Yes. When it’s down to the wire and distinctions have to be drawn between submissions of similar quality, this can be the tipping point that gets your work included or excluded.

Regardless of the juror, there is some personal preference involved. No one can be completely objective, so keep that in mind when you apply. If you have particular luck with a juror whom you know will be judging a competition, or you want to avoid submitting to a certain juror, learn this first before deciding where to apply.

Industry input

I asked a few friends who frequently jury submissions to share their own experiences and advice for artists on ways to get the best possible results with your next submission. See if their words resonate with you.

John R. MathJohn Math

When I look at an artist’s submission, the first thing that I look for is “Did this artist follow and depict the theme of this art competition?” Too many artists still apply to art competitions that they should not be submitting to, due to the subject matter, allowed media and the quality of their art. If their art meets the theme test, then their art is evaluated and judged thoroughly thereafter.

Terri LloydArtist Terri Lloyd:

For me, it’s primarily about fit. I use a 1 to 5 (or abcd) scale to grade the work based on the call. 1 or A being the “out of the ball park WOW Factor” and 5 being “no thanks, not this time.”

The WOW Factor for me is almost a no-brainer in terms of fit, execution, the artist’s voice and impact on the viewer. In a word, it is remarkable. There is no guesswork. But not all work is immediately remarkable. Sometimes a work will resonate or perplex me on more subtle level which compels me to look deeper. Then I look to the artist statement either about the piece/series or her overall practice —and if necessary, visit her website for better understanding. (Artists, this is why your statement is important.) The process takes a little extra time but it helps me to defend or reject the work.

Renée Phillips

Renée Phillips

Renee Phillips of Manhattan Arts International:

When choosing artists for our exhibitions I am always excited to discover an artist who displays an extraordinary combination of innovation, unique style, and excellent artistic skills. Those attributes take my breath away. Before I select the top winners I enjoy visiting all of the entrants’ websites looking for a developed body of work, career performance, and professional commitment. What breaks my heart is when I have to reject an artist I respect because they didn’t submit entries from their most accomplished works, or their art didn’t match the theme, or they submitted poor quality jpegs.



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  1. I think I am on the right path, I take my time to read all the rules & submit the best pics possible. I just won my first on line gallery submission this month under 3d art “Honorable Mention” from Light Space and Time Online Gallery 🙂 Now that I have finally dived into the pool, I plan on entering more.

    • Congratulations, Linda! Sounds like you are checking off all the boxes and presenting your work well. I’m sure that as you continue to enter competitions, you will find more success.

  2. Hadn’t really looked at this, great article ….will consider it. Good to see a judge looking for innovation. it’s a hard task given how much great art is around. Hope my 3D pen work will be picked up as mainstream fine art soon!
    Carolyn did you send me the direct link to my page ….it won’t show on my system? If so could you send again, thanks.

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