Here at De:formal we receive online submissions from artists around the globe, it is our goal to support emerging artists and share their ideas to the contemporary art community. A lot of time is spent on reviewing each applicants' portfolio and supporting materials, with our experience of reviewing many applications, we have organized a list of what we believe to be the essentials of good online submissions, wether it is for applying to exhibitions, grants, or residencies.
The platforms that prodive artists opportunities to showcase works have changed rapidly during the past few decades. Internet presence of emerging artists has never been more prominent. We cannot stress enough the importance of art documentations in the age of technology and social media. Bad documentations can undermine a great piece of artwork, we have seen so many impressive submissions that are compromised by low quality documentations. If you have already spent countless of hours on producing great works, spending some extra time and energy on taking good photos is definitely worthwhile.
Here are some things you can do to take good documentations:
1. Use a good quality DSLR camera. Yes, we know the resolutions of smartphone cameras these days are quite exceptional, but they simply cannot compete with DSLR cameras when it comes to capturing the intricate details of textures, subtle shift of colors, and the way light bounces off different surfaces.
2. Use a tripod. Unless when it's intentional, shaky cams and blurry images are signals of carelessness.
3. Good lighting set up. Lighting can either make or break a photograph, being conscious of the light source when taking photos of your works is a way to make sure the images faithfully reflect your artistic visions.
4. Make sure the white balance is correct. Let's say you made a gorgeous sculpture with different shades of blue, a yellowish lighting could heavily alter the colors of the work and make it appears to be green.
Having a clean and easy to navigate personal website to show your works is a must for 21st Century artists. The first thing we do when we finished reviewing an intriguing submission tends to be go to the artist's website to find out more information, when this happens, not having a website could be a huge disadvantage. And yes, your website being clean and easy to navigate is very important. We're not saying that it has to be a conventional white box, some creativities like animations or colorful backgrounds can often tell the viewers what kind of artist you are even before clicking through your portfolio. But I believe we have all visited some websites so convoluted that we can barely stay on it for more than three minutes.
Things to consider to include in your website:
1. Artworks (duh)
2. Bio and/or CV (make sure they are up to date!)
3. Artist statement
4. Contact info
5. New exhibition announcements
Follow the submission guideline
Almost all open calls on the internet provides a detailed submission guideline. It isn't rocket science, following the format and sending all the required materials is the least one could do to make a good first impression.
Do your homework
Art is objective, a curator's taste could affect the outcome of art selection, it is sad for us to say this out loud, but it's true. So it is important to do some research on the organization or the judging panel before submitting your works. Before submitting your works to a specific organization, look up the exhibition history or prize winners in the past; let's say you make hyperrealistic figurative sculptures, and most of the artists the organization shows are abstract painters, chances are they might not have the eyes to appreciate your works. We're not telling you to never be bold avoid risks (you never know!), but knowing your audience would higher the chances of you being selected.
Most Importantly, make very good works!
Stay true to yourself, don't compare with other artists, and never compromise your vision.