For Students About Entering An Art Show, and Culture Shapers

A Great Judging Day at Culture Shapers

Everything was a buzz yesterday at judging. It is good to see the other judges, all in different field but seasoned professionals and some old friends. They all take their judging very seriously and everyone is impressed with the quality of work that comes to Culture Shapers each year. One new judge expressed his impressions over the well-run and very large process that is done by Culture Shapers.

If you think that seeing the final show is inspiring, you should see how much incredible work is there on judging day. There is so much work and many very incredible pieces that never make the final cut. You have heard me say over the years that judging is, many times very subjective. It depends on the judges and their personal likes, their background and training, etc. There were some pieces that I would have liked to advance but I could not.

I always try to add these suggestions to students.

  • Use the forms provided. Gives us information. Sometimes the information or description that is provided can change a judges view of a piece. For example, if you submitted something in photography and it was developed in a dark room, you should mention that. Or if you were trying to express a certain emotion or were inspired by something tell us!
  • Go to the extra effort and time in presenting. If you have a great sculpture and it is poorly mounted, it will show and may change our vote for your piece.
  • Don’t cut corners when creating. When you feel you are tired of your artwork, walk away and come back to it. Rushing through art shows in the finished product. It is better to give the art your full attention until it comes to completion.

It may be too late for you to use some of these suggestion this year, but do pay attention to them next year, and for all the shows that you enter.

Judging Process
For those not familiar with the process of judging here is a quick run down.

Each judge ( there are three judges) is given 20 yellow post-its. We walk around the show and place the slips on those piece that we like and that we think should advance to the next round. If another judge has put a post-it on a piece then I might not put mine there. Many times we agree on what should advance and then I hand in extra post-its. If it did not advance there are a few reasons.

  • It did not compare to the quality of work that we had seen.
  • You may have not done some of my suggestions that I mentioned earlier.
  • It got lost amongst the other work. I sculpture this happens a lot. I am so glad there are three judges. Smaller pieces or those that just happened to be placed in a dark area of the room might not get a judges attention.
  • It may be a part of school project and there are several pieces that look like yours. It is hard to judge these, unless it is spectacular and really stands out.

Then we are given five pink post-its. We can only place these on the pieces that have yellow ones on them already. Oh this year I walked back and forth between two pieces that I liked, one was with a bird cage and hand and the other was i think titled “Heaven and Hell.” I put it on one and I was so sorry I did not have two pink slips. It was then that I noticed that another judge had marked another one that I had liked. I asked permission to move my pink slip and that allowed me to advance both of these pieces.

Then the pieces are lined up. We are then given our slips of paper that we write our comments on. I must interject, if you have come this far your work is superior. The forms however give us a numbering system and the words “below average, average, etc.” I hate this and cross them off of my sheet. I wish Culture Shapers would delete them. For us judges it is just a numbering system and should not be called “below average.” As I said, if you have made it this far that term should not be used. Now this is my opinion and I hope one day to have those off of the forms. Anyway… We go through and look at each piece. I love this part. I get to sit down and become familiar with your work, to really examine it. This is where you can sway me by your quality, and words. Each judge hands in their numbered pages and we go to lunch and wait for them to add them up and them put them in numerical order.

We are not aloud to speak to each other until the final round- after all the artwork is lined up. This is an essential part of judging, especially in sculpture. Many times there are many different mediums. I count on my fellow judges to point out details, difficulties and intricacy in each of their favorite pieces. Pieces can be moved on this final table but only three spots. Usually judges agree. Sometimes they fight for their pieces- your artwork. But it is all still friendly.

In all I loved the choices. Of course in other categories there were some pieces that where last in the finals that I would have put first, but that is again subjective and my own opinion. There was a discussion between us artists if photographs should be used allowed to be used in the drawing section of the show. Some judges were passionate about not allowing photographs. I think they want students to draw from life. I however think using photographs is very good and I know many professional artists that would agree, in fact, both my husband in his work and many other illustrators and artists use photographs as reference. We often take our own photography so that we can get the proportions, lighting etc just right. I’ll even ask my husband, “ Can you strike this pose?” Or he will ask me. Can you hold this medical instrument. For us photography is part of the process. But again that tells how different artists and judges are.

I want to encourage each of you to continue working on your art. For those who want suggestions or critiques or whatever. Please feel free to contact me, but… do not send me anything that you think you might enter in the show in the sculpture category next year as it will have to be disqualified. You can find me on Facebook, check out my websites— Fine art , God’s Word Collectible Gift Line. I have also started podcasting and have a new section of the podcasts called Creative Christians. We will be interviewing famous creative Christians. For those interested you can find a list of the podcasts here Or you can listen to them from the God’s word Collectibles Facebook Fans page.

Oh yes, be sure to check out my blog on my website, as I often post articles about Culture Shapers. Last year I also wrote an article about the winners at Best of Artists and Artisans column.

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