How to Enter an Art Exhibit: Resources for First-Timers

If you’re just starting out as an exhibiting artist, congratulations! You’ve taken an important step in your artistic growth, and we wish you the best of luck.

At The Art League, we operate a membership gallery, which means artist members can enter juried shows and, hopefully, have artwork accepted into an exhibit. (That part’s up to the juror.)

Since a new exhibit year just started, we wanted to put together an overview of how the juried exhibit process works. We’ve also compiled lots of links to other articles that will help you through the process. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below!

The June 2016 Open Exhibit, juried by Jeff Huntington

Step 1: Join as an exhibiting artist and pay your dues

This part is pretty straightforward. You can join as an artist on this page. The membership year runs from July 1 to June 30. Toward the end of the year, the cost of a membership is prorated.

There are two options for how to pay:

  1. Traditional: pay the membership fee (currently $95) and pay $5 each time you enter an artwork
  2. All-Inclusive: pay the membership fee (currently $144) and entry fees are included

Which one is right for you depends on how many exhibits you plan on entering.

Step 2: Take a look at our schedule of upcoming exhibits

Stay on top of those deadlines! We have new exhibits every month.

For digital-entry exhibits, the deadline is typically the 15th of the month before the exhibit. For traditional entry (where you drop off the physical artwork to be juried), there are two “receiving” days at the beginning of the month. Some months are digital, and some are traditional. It’s all on our calendars:

You’ll also want to look out for any potential awards for specific exhibits. All months have cash awards for best-in-show; some months have cash awards for specific media as well, like pastel, watercolor, or collage.

January 2012 juror Allen Beland. In traditional receiving, the juror is presented each artwork in turn (or in pairs, if by the same artist). At the end, the accepted pieces are reviewed again for awards (above).

Step 3: Choose what you want to enter

Artists may enter multiple artworks, but jurors may only select up to one artwork by each artist. For digitally juried shows, you can typically submit up to three artworks. For traditional receiving, the limit is two.

Some exhibits are Open Exhibits, which means there is no limitation on theme, medium, process, or content. Other exhibits have themes, which may suggest different subject matters, sizes, or other guidelines.

(Note there is always one limitation on size: artwork must fit through our doors, and must be installed by the artist if it weighs over 60 pounds.)

Settle on a title and price for each artwork ahead of time so you’re ready to fill out the entry form when the time comes!

Don’t Move They Might Be Watching (detail), mixed media, by Chris Malone

Step 4: Submit

You’ll submit artwork one of two different ways, depending on the exhibit.

For digital entry: All our online exhibits can be found at theartleague.submittable.com. You’ll need to create a free account first, then enter the information for each piece of artwork you’re entering: title, medium, price, and so forth. You also need to submit a digital image of your artwork! Give yourself plenty of time to get the best photograph you can, since this is how the juror will judge your artwork.

For traditional receiving: Bring in framed, ready-to-hang artwork during the designated time. You’ll tape a tag to each artwork with the relevant information. Leave your artwork in the designated spot, marked with a sign: Works on Canvas, Works Under Glass, Photography, etc. Important: If you are entering two artworks, keep them together, even if they fall under different categories. The juror will be shown both artworks together.

Step 5: Jurying

You won’t be around for this part, but it’s important to know what happens.

Exhibits at The Art League are blind juried, meaning the juror doesn’t see the artist’s name. Online, the software withholds the artist’s name from the juror. In person, volunteers present the artwork to the juror with the label not visible. (The juror may ask for information like the title of the piece.)

Each juror goes at their own pace, but generally this is how it works: each piece gets a Yes, No, or Maybe from the juror during the first go-round. (Remember that a single artist may only have up to one artwork selected.) Nos are set aside immediately. Yeses are accepted into the show. Maybes will get another pass.

Jurors are instructed to select around 100 pieces for the show, because that’s roughly what can fit, but their decisions are theirs alone. After selections are made, the juror goes back to award any cash prizes and honorable mentions.

From the May 2016 Open Exhibit.

Step 6: After

What happens after jurying? For digital entry exhibits, you’ll get an email with the results and instructions for bringing in your artwork, if applicable.

For traditional receiving, here’s what’s next:

  1. On Monday night, you can check the results online on the appropriate exhibit page.
  2. Pick up any unaccepted artwork as soon as possible, during normal gallery hours. A late fee of $20 per week will be assessed beginning one week after the Monday of jurying. (Note that, if you submitted more than one artwork, you will have at least one to pick up.)

If you’re accepted to the exhibit, congratulations! We’ll notify you if you were selected for any awards. During the exhibit, we’ll also notify you if your artwork is sold! Please pick up any unsold artwork at the end of the exhibit.

Other information

The Art League has a separate jurying process for solo exhibits, taking place two years ahead of time. Read more about solo exhibits on this page.

Gallery hours:

  • Monday–Saturday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm
  • Thursday: 10:00 am–9:00 pm
  • Sunday: 12:00 noon–6:00 pm

Contact information:

  • gallery@theartleague.org
  • 703-683-1780

Gallery location:

  • 105 N. Union St.
    Studio 21
    Alexandria, VA 22314

If you have any questions, you can also leave a comment below. Good luck to all our exhibiting artists!

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