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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Artist Calls for Submissions and Writing an Art Book

As professional artists, we all spend a fair amount of time entering artist calls for submissions, whether it is for grants, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions or art related books. In the beginning, I received a lot of "no's" before I started to receive an occasional "yes, your work was accepted." No artist, even if they are in major museum collections, receives a "yes" to everything they enter. In any call to artists or grant process, personal preferences of the jurors can vary and such matters are always subjective on some level.

But one of the key things to keep in mind, is that the decision is final. Chances are you will come into contact with one or more of the jurors again in future calls (perhaps for the same call if it is held yearly)so debating that your work was just as good as anyone else is a major career ending mistake. My process is that for each "no" I receive, I study the level of the work that was accepted and view that as a learning experience. And, as we all know, there is always another artist call around the corner.

Photo driven art books may also have a call for submissions. Since these books are often updated after several years, debating over your selection may effectively torpedo your career. Although I have found my art book writing process 99% positive, I have been surprised over one artist's continual tirade over her non-selection and her ongoing solicitation of a formal role in the book. Of course, if you are writing an art book and hold an international call to artists, you open yourself up to dealing with all types of individuals. Unfortunately, this person's work had poor photography and was not even close to the technical level of expertise and originality submitted by virtually all the other artists. The photos showed very unfinished work with sharp edges.

As an artist, if you ever selected for and enter into a contract with a publisher to write an art book, stand firm to your submission process and deadlines. Your obligations are to the publisher first and foremost. Be wary of individuals soliciting for a role outside of the artist call for photos. Your contract is between you and the publisher and no one else is involved. If someone you do not know offers to take on a role in the book for "no charge" and says "they expect nothing" in return, say "NO" and do not get involved there. If they refuse to accept the "no", this is a red flag.

I was always clear that solicitation for other book services was NOT part of the call to artists. In my personal opinion, if someone you do not even know is offering to perform some work or service for you, you are likely entering into a contractual relationship with that person regardless of what they may say now.

Again, have some fun in participating in artist calls and writing books but scams can come in all forms, even under the cover of another "artist." So maintain a reasonable sense of scepticism for all unsolicited offers.

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