I Refuse to Compete

Over the years I’ve been asked why I don’t put my art in art competition shows.  They give you great exposure and they allow you to potentially win a prize which gives the winner another notch on their bio/resume.  I get that, I do but I have my own reasons.


Reason #1 – I don’t believe any art should be judged and put against any other person’s work.  My logic behind that is everyone has their own particular vision and style.  Not one piece of art is exactly identical as the next which makes it unique.  So why should two completely different styles and visions be judged?  Why should someone tell me or anyone else that my piece or their piece is better than the next.

Reason #2 – Many times art is an expression of the artist’s mind, body, soul or all of the above.  Judging that can have adverse effects on the artist.

Reason #3 – Competitions to me take the fun out of it.  If you lose you are disappointed.  Competitions can put friends against each other which can cost friendships if one does better than the other.  There is also added stress to make the best piece you can, which isn’t always a bad thing as it pushes you to your limit, but it can exhaust the soul which is what art was designed to build up.

Reason #4 – Judging can be fixed or influenced.  There is really never a fair playing ground so I don’t want to fall victim to this.

Reason #5 – Depending on how the competition is set up you could be doomed to fail before submitting your piece.  (I’ll explain this in a minute)


Reason #1 – It builds character.  If you are just starting out you will realize that you don’t have to be in a competition to be judged because everyone has an opinion and everyone will give it (favorable or unfavorable) and you will have to take it.  By submitting your work to a competition you are under the notion that you work will be graded and picked apart so the “element of surprise” is gone.  By preparing for the criticism, it makes the unexpected critics that much easier to blow off.

Reason #2 – Exposure!  Sometimes it’s hard to find places to display your work.   So if you go in using it for exposure only, you will get that and if you win, you get a prize so it’s a win-win in most cases.  Some places only show work from award winning and notable artists and you can get there fast by placing in competitions.

So there you have some of my “pros and cons” to entering a juried show.  I chose not to enter at all but I’d be a liar if I said I refuse to and never have nor ever will compete.  I did participate in a few juried shows and one I didn’t know was juried.  So with that said, let me explain #5 a bit more.

Reason #5 – Depending on how the competition is set up you could be doomed to fail before submitting your piece.

I entered a juried show in 2004.  I was excited because I worked really hard to come up with something that I hoped would wow the judges.  However I quickly found out that my photography was classified in the same category as oils and pastels.

I was doomed before I even entered the contest because to me, photography takes an awful lot of skill.  It’s not just “point and shoot” as most people think.  However in terms of fine art (Oils, Pastels) many consider this far superior against photography.

That day 3 other photographers entered and the photographs were the only ones that didn’t place.  Photography should be in a category of it’s own.

AGAIN I entered a juried show in 2011.  I didn’t know at the time it was juried but never the less I was more in it for the exposure.  Come to find out at the grand reception again, no photographers work placed.  No mixed media placed either.  The reason is everyone that entered was competing against each other because they didn’t have classifications.  They didn’t judge a certain medium in it’s own category.  So anyone that did mixed media, clay, photography etc. wasn’t even going to place – they just helped fill the exhibit.

This blew my interest in competing in any juried show ever again.  Well, that’s a lie.  It did blow my interest but if I find a fair show I will certainly enter a piece of mine if I feel like it pending the show is juried accurately.  I will say that is highly unlikely even if they are set up right.  If I decide to display I usually disqualify myself because I don’t want to be judged – I want to be loved!  There is a difference.


  Jason Dowd  /    March 1, 2015  /   Jason's Journal  /   0 Comments
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