Being in juried shows is a great way to get more exhibitions on your resume.
What is a juried show?
Usually an art group, gallery, art center, or museum will sponsor the show (by recruiting volunteers, raising money for prizes, and securing a venue for the exhibition). Some will use their own "expert," (or panel of experts) but most will hire a juror (or jurors) from outside of their organization. This ensures that the juror will be fair and impartial. The juror is usually an artist, curator, or art educator.
How it works
The organization will send out a prospectus or call for entries, usually a small brochure that is mailed to members, former show participants, etc. Many calls for entries are posted on websites such as the Art Deadlines List or printed in magazines such as Art Calendar or Art in America.
It is very important to read everything in the prospectus before you enter the show. These are the rules and regulations and if you don't follow them, you can ruin your chances of getting in the show.
Important things to note on the prospectus:
deadline for entries - sometimes they will list the postmark date and sometimes the date that items must be in their possession (an important distinction)
entry fee - obviously, they won't accept your entry without the fee
slide or file requirements - more shows are taking digital entries now, but regardless of the format you submit, follow their guidelines to the letter. If they want slides and you enter a CD, your entry will be thrown out, and vice versa. Also, if they indicate that digital files should be 72 dpi jpgs, don't send them 11 x 17 TIFFs. They won't like you.
Some smaller organizations will sponsor local or regional shows where the artists are required to submit actual artwork instead of slides or digital files. The juror will select work and give prizes from the actual artwork.
exhibition dates - I mention this because some organizations require the entries months in advance of the show. You need to decide if you want to have your work unavailable for that period of time. Also, you must make sure that your work is available if it is accepted - don't enter the same piece in multiple shows if the dates overlap.
handling fees - I've noticed that some organizations are requiring artists who are accepted into the show must pay an additional handling fee.
How do you choose which shows to enter?
There are many things to consider when entering shows. Here are just a few:
cost - personally, I don't enter shows that charge more than $25 for their entry fees. The benefit of having a line on your resume is weighed with the cost of the entry fee, framing, shipping, and insurance. Entering shows is expensive, and getting into shows is even more pricey...
juror - the status and reputation of the juror is important. I tend to look for an artist that I know of and admire or a curator of an institution that I respect. But sometimes I will also enter a show that just sounds interesting, regardless of who the juror is.
location - is the exhibition being held at a major museum or a respected art center? If the show is local, you can save on shipping costs.
Congratulations! You got into the show!
Now what? The organization will send you instructions on shipping your work to them. Usually, they will require that you use a particular shipping agent and that the work will need to arrive within a particular time frame. Most organizations will require that you pay for return shipping also. I need to do a whole post on shipping artwork in the future.
If you're lucky, they will post images of the installed work on their website. If you're super lucky, they'll also print a catalog of the exhibited work. If there is any press on the show, they will probably send you copies of the newspaper clippings, too. And if you're extra-super lucky, the reporter will mention your work (in a good way). All of this is great stuff to add to your "brag book" or whatever you call that binder full of show catalogs, press clippings, and invitations.
Many juried shows will entice artists to join by offering prizes. They'll usually list the major prizes - $500 best of show, three $100 awards, merchandise awards, etc. Sometimes the best of show will receive a solo show in the gallery in the future. Prizes are great, but don't enter a show expecting to win.
We regret to inform you...
Bummer. It sucks to get rejected. Don't worry about it, though. Try again next year. Art is subjective and every juror will have a different opinion on the same work. One particular painting can win best of show in one show and be rejected from another. Every juror brings his or her own aesthetic background, artistis criteria, taste, etc. But I don't need to tell you that.
The more shows you enter, the more you increase your chances of getting into one. But it does get expensive, so decide what's important to you before you enter a whole bunch of shows.