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  • Carly Gilliland

The Ins and Outs of Artist Calls

Hey there! Welcome to my site and my first official blog post! When thinking about starting up my blog it took time for me to decide what to start off with. Between my job, my faith, and my travels there’s a lot to choose from! But I thought back to what I originally made this website for and it made sense to start from there; I’m talking about my art! I’ve always considered myself an artist. In school I was known as a creative kid and the image never really left. When it came time for college there was nothing else I ever considered studying aside from art. It just made sense. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in May 2018 and sense then I’ve been taking opportunities as I can find them!

That brings me to the main point of this blog post: artist calls; where to find them and how the whole process works. When talking about submitting my artwork the most common question I get is “how do you find these galleries”. There are different websites you can go onto that are made to display openings online. The one I use is www.callforentry.org, which I originally discovered through recommendation of a professor. You make a profile and have a designated portfolio page to upload images and describe them by title, medium, dimension, etc. There’s an apply to calls page with a frequently updated list of art calls from galleries, schools, contractors, and others. While scrolling through the exhibitions they should have the title, cut off date, location, and a brief description on the theme of the show listed. It’s important to look at opportunities based on your own work! You need to read into the theme of the show, do any specific pieces of yours come to mind while you’re reading? Look at the gallery’s website or social media; what kind of area is it in? What kinds of shows has it done in the past? How big is the gallery itself? If they have the jurors listed, look up them as well! If you can see what their artwork looks like it can give you an idea of what they’ll gravitate towards!

After you’ve checked these points, you’re ready for the submission! With callforentry all you have to do is click apply to the call and it takes you to your portfolio page to select whichever pieces you want to submit. After you’ve chosen those, you’ll normally be asked to submit a statement. Your artist statement is meant to be a brief summary of the work you’re submitting going into whatever themes or inspirations are behind it! Tip: It’s good to have statements pre-made and kept on file for whenever you might need them again! Once it’s all said and done, you simply have to wait. If you get in , then celebrate, and if you don’t, that’s OKAY! No seriously, if you submit art and it gets rejected, don’t take it personal. I’ve applied to shows where the curator said they received nearly 500 submissions…and only 50 could get in! When you’re 1 of that 50, it feels good, and you’re allowed to feel that good. But when you’re not, there’s so many reasons why, and none of them are about you. Maybe the juror just didn’t see your art in relation to the theme the same way as you did. Maybe there were multiple artists using the same style and they had to narrow it down. And maybe, they just simply did not have enough space I the gallery. Condensing 500 down to-a still generous-50 is hard, so always keep that in mind that they’re doing the best they can.

And finally, if you do get in, the last step is the shipping! If the gallery is local, or within a reasonable drive, then you can hand deliver it yourself! If not, you’ll need to go to your local UPS store and get some labels made. (USPS is cheaper, but have very strict limitations on how big your package can be. My paintings are usually too large but if yours are small enough, then do USPS!) Galleries typically ask you to send in the return label with your art, but if it’s too much to pay at once, I would suggest to pay shipping first and come back at a later time to purchase and email the return label. If your art sells while on display (YAY), the gallery often refunds the cost of the return label to you! This process of course varies depending on the specific business and curators overseeing it, but this is the general idea! So for when people ask me “so how do you like find art shows and stuff?” this is my full, long-winded answer. Art is a full-time job on it’s own, but on occasion, it’s very very worth it! Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think!

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