Having our curators being part of other art competitions, one question they are asked the most is "what criteria is used to select artworks, and how to improve your chances".
From the perspective of galleries that have as end goal a publication or exhibition, the main expectation is to create a very interesting presentation for the "viewers", or/and "collectors". Most of the time, the curators will be asked to show the best of as many different styles and varied media as possible, keeping up with the theme proposed and integrating the artwork whenever reasonable. The exhibition (or publication) is to display a broad representation of artistic form, not focusing on technicality or conceptually only - and the final piece, the collection of all artworks selected, needs to be somehow able to be seen as a art piece as well.
In a first instance, the artworks that enter competitions go through a broad elimination based on if the image of the artwork is good enough to be judged (and image can be used by our team for promo material / online exhibition without having to be edited by our design team). In our latest 2020 Art Competition, about 20% of the artworks submitted failed - and were eliminated before reaching the judges for the Online Exhibition Selection.
What can disqualify an artwork straight away?
1. Poor Photo Quality: The photograph you submit is all we have to judge your artwork. They need to be on focus, sharp and clear (we need to be able to zoom in without seeing blur), no glare or lighting, cropped to just the artwork (no frame / mount /background / table), with no watermark/copyright text on the image, so the photo can be used as it is when announcing the winner.
Poor photographs were the first to be eliminated, even if the art is exceptional. If the photo cannot be used as it is to announce a winner that the judges will be proud of and the sponsor will be happy showing large at the top of their page, then the photo isn’t good enough.
2. Poor color of artwork photograph: Sometimes we receive what we truly believe is an exceptional piece of art, but it is obvious to us that the colors are not balanced in the photograph, or are washed out and not representative of the original colors of the art.
3. Incomplete or poorly written submission materials. If we receive submission forms that are incomplete, poorly written or need to updated or summarized, generally these submissions will not be used as well. Most competitions have very short time between deadlines, from receiving, updating material in a template online for the judges, to judging/scoring and then uploading and making the exhibition live. We really do not have any time to waste chasing down artists for additional detailed information and this is another reason to have your art rejected.
With that in mind, and past the first round of eliminations, our curators are asked to judge several elements, giving them a score from 0-10. These scores are summed for the artwork judged by each curator, and an average is calculated between the scores of the curators.
What are the main elements to be judged?
Interpretation and clarity of the theme. Our collectors and viewers need to be able to link your artwork to be theme (title of the exhibition) - and it's even better if they can without having to read the full statement of the piece. The rating is based on the question "Is the theme clear in the artwork?"
Creativity and originality. Everyone likes unique things - and people are always keen to be surprised by the creative and original. That can be done on how the theme is interpreted, the concept of the artwork, the use of media and many other ways.
Quality of artistic composition - technical. Does the artist make the most of its chosen medium, using it to its advantage? What is the level of expertise or skill that can be seen from the artwork? Is it a good example of use of the technique/medium?
Quality of artistic composition - concept. How does the artist expresses herself/himself through the artwork? Is it touching, or thought provoking, or trigger emotions?
Overall Composition Score. How does the piece stand out in the crowd? Does it stand on its own? How outstanding is it?
This is the guideline used in our competitions and forwarded to our curators, and though they are not universal (we can't say that all galleries and curatorial processes are like this), they are a good reference for anyone entering pieces to any art competitions worldwide.