From Amateur to Pro|Am – Part 2
As I alluded to in part one of this story, our first showing was in our own home. When you are ready to show your work in a public way for the first time – it doesn’t have to be in a gallery or retail location. As a matter of fact, I would recommend against this because you want the chance to build up to your first show in those kinds of settings. Starting small gives you the opportunity to fine tune all the aspects of presenting your work, so your audience is impressed when they first come into contact with you and your images. Plus, starting small means you can start smart. Starting smart is about limiting the scope of your first two to three forays into public showings and refining your presentations from what you learn in each low-profile event until you have a polished set of event activities defined. I’ll talk more about all of the activities that go into our events in detail in multiple upcoming posts and will have a checklist of our most common pre-show activities near the end of this series.
Our very first step on our path to where we are today was to get a feel for where we were in the quality of our images. The best way we thought we could do that would be to enter our images in the upcoming county and state fair creative art events. Every county and state has one every year where you enter images into categories set by the fair and they are evaluated (juried) for their technical quality and creativity. Images can win recognition as First, Second or Third place images and possibly Honorable Mention – with all of the First Place images in each category then judged together to come up with a First Place winner among the First Place winners – known as Best of Show. My recommendation to you as you are starting out is to get some non-family, non-friend feedback on the quality and creativity of your images – – and juried art shows are an excellent start. Not only your county and state fairs, but your local art organizations are likely to have juried art competitions which you can enter also.
What you want to learn from these kinds of events is to see who wins and who doesn’t and where you stand in that mix. It is really important to realize that each event’s jury is composed of individuals whose criteria differ from one organization’s event to another. What doesn’t place at all in one show may wind up with a First place in another show. Don’t get down if your image doesn’t place in one event! You want to enter into multiple events and see how you fare over the course of those 3-4 events. Are you consistently getting First through Third place awards – or not getting any? If you are not getting any over say 3 events then you have some work to do. This means evaluating your images against the ones that did place and really think about what would have made your image better. If you are consistently garnering awards over these 3-4 events, then you are on track to start creating your first show!
You can find out well ahead of time what the requirements are for each fair or art organization event by visiting their web site and downloading their list of requirements and image categories. In doing this you can plan ahead and acquire any matting components that might be required for submitting your work, what categories of images they are seeking and the deadlines for getting your images in for review. So that is my first tip on how to get started and build up a track record at the same time. Enter ! Enter ! Enter !