Paper Art :: Rising to the Occasion

I have just completed everything I needed to do to enter my first juried exhibition. And I’m even ahead of the deadline! What a surprise. There were a lot of guidelines to follow. I had to read and re-read, underline, take notes, and I’m still paranoid that I missed something and will be summarily rejected. This exhibition is specifically for the Book Arts, so I have decided to enter four of my Wall Hangings. I figure that it is likely that most of the book arts submissions for others will need to be on tables or pedestals; I hope that that will leave plenty of wall space for my four entries.

The first thing I had to do is decide which book sculptures to send. There are a few that I worry about traveling, so I decided to choose ones that I thought were my best work and also would go through the mail in one piece. I decided on Paper Art :: Rising to the Occasion, Decorative Wall Hangings :: Dream Weaver, Contemporary Wall Decor :: Stone Heart, and Paper Sculpture :: Land of My Heart. I could have submitted one more, but I really didn’t want to pay the money. Even though this is a non-profit art organization I’m submitting to, and the fees are relatively low, I don’t like the idea of having to pay a fee that doesn’t come back to me if I get rejected. Seems like a weird way to run things. Wouldn’t it make more sense to pay a fee if you get accepted? But who am I to say? From of the looks of things, that seems to be the way it’s done.

So after I decided which books to submit, I had to make a CD with up to four digital images of each book. That wasn’t too hard because I have images on my computer for use on my web site. I had to organize and name them a in a specific format. Again, not too difficult after I got the hang of it. I was grateful that I didn’t have to send slides, since I don’t have any. I am considering entering a arts and crafts’ exhibition in San Luis Obispo, and I will need slides for that. I’m looking into creating slides from my digital images. Everything I read says that I should invest in professional photographs of my art, but I can’t even consider that right now. I know that if I was running my “art business” as a “real” business, I would invest the money, and it would be a worthwhile expense. I mean, if my art doesn’t come across effectively in slides and photos, who’s going to want to buy it anyway? So some day soon, I hope I’ll be in a position to have this done.

Along with the digital images, I had to include a Word or PDF doc giving my name, the title of the work, the media used, and the selling price. This gallery is only charging a 25% commission, which is really reasonable compared to others I’ve seen. Most places charge 40 – 50% commission. It’s hard to keep the selling price down. I mean, the retail price on those four pieces is only $125 each, which I think is pretty low to begin with. If the gallery keeps 50%, then I’m down to about $55 for each piece. Subtract the entry fee – about $5.00 each. Subtract the cost of shipping the work to the gallery and then shipping it home if it doesn’t sell. Boy, when you start looking at it that way, I’m really underpricing my art!

Next I completed an entry form. I also enclosed a very brief cover letter, although I wasn’t asked to. It seemed weird to just stick everything in an envelope and send it without a note of some kind. One of the resources I’m using to figure all of this “art biz” stuff out, is a book called Building a Career as a Visual Artist: Taking the Leap. It has a couple of examples of how to write a cover letter which gave me some good ideas about what to write. Cay does say to use some nice stationary–nothing flowery or cutesy–so I had to make some using my computer. I think it looks okay. Simple but nice. This book has really been helpful to me. It’s very clear and easy to read and basically answers all my questions before I even think of what to ask!

Finally, I filled out a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) so they can return the CD if they don’t like my work, and I plan on getting the whole shebang to the post office tomorrow. Check back to see how it all works out!

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