Saturday, 16 August 2008

Some submission questions

A comment on a previous post is worth a detailed reply to everyone, so here is the comment from Felicity Grace, and my reply:
Bob, I'm interested in your comment about nursing artists through the procedure. As it was my first time submitting, I was quite nervous about doing it right and what I might be doing wrong - perhaps you could write about the questions that arose so that we can all learn more? I had doubts about the quality of my scan (it never looks like the original - do judges take this into account? -but is it allowed, for instance, to enhance it if it actually looks closer to the original?, the amount of info required (bio and description) and whether asking too many questions would affect the outcome - in particular, I didn't want to look as if I was actually being pushy, trying to influence the process or just being stupid! Hunting for info at Scribbletalk was fruitless as most artists seemed to be veterans and therefore there was no discussion about the nitty gritty. Any chance of a 'submitting for dummies' post or perhaps something similar put into the files at the Yahoo group site?

Hi Felicity,

This comes up every year, and we try to have an article in "Talking Point" prior to submission about how best to do this. Just checking back, we seem to have missed that this year, so I will try to make sure something is included for next time.

To answer your questions immediately - judges can only judge the scan they are given, and cannot compare it with the original. They can't see the original. It is acceptable to make the scan look more like the original, by adjusting contrast, levels, colour cast in e.g. Photoshop, but is not acceptable to "improve" it beyond the original. The original may be rejected if it is found that the scan gave an unfair impression of it to the jury. All judging for prizes has so far been done by viewing the originals as they are hung in the gallery, but of course if your scan/photo is not good, it might not get that far.

The jury will never know what questions you have asked, how many phone calls you made to Pat, or how much you stressed over the entry. They will just judge what is put in front of them. One reason why we have three members of the jury is that this gives a fairer result - if a judge has a particular interest in portraits for example, he/she may look more favourably on these - or judge them more harshly! With three jurors, this is balanced out, we hope.

Where Pat did have some problems were with some artists who had sent poor photos - poorly lit, out of focus or at angles that distorted the picture - and with some artists who sent printouts of scans that had been folded or had become crumpled in the post. Each entry has to be copied three times to be sent to the jury members who are often on opposite sides of the globe. If the entry has creases across it, this is bound to be picked up and duplicated in the scanning process. Hence the comment about Pat ironing some entries before scanning them for the judges. By far the safest and most accurate and easiest way to submit, as far as Pat is concerned, is to send in a scan on a disc. Pat just needs then to print three copies of this at the size that she chooses, to fit on an A4 sheet. As long as the artist is happy with their scan, this should give the best result, as any other submission has to be re-scanned before being printed, and more errors are bound to creep in.

I am not surprised that there was no much discussion of this on Scribbletalk as that site is msotly populated by US artists and their submission process - see below - was very different to ours. There are many ways of judging whether pictures get into an exhibition. The most common is that you have to physically take the framed picture along to a panel of judges and let them see it there and then. By far the fairest method - but also a heck of a lot of work, often for just a disappointment. And not very green!

While we are on this - what do members think of the submission process chosen by the CPSA this year? Every entrant had to upload their entries onto a secure website, and the judge viewed them all on a monitor. To me this is very fair, and quite simple. And it certainly is a LOT less work for Pat, and a LOT cheaper. But is our membership computer literate enough for us to go that route?

Hope this answers your questions Felicity, and I am sure that Pat would be happy to give more details any time - except she is on a well deserved holiday at present!


Felicity said...

Thank you very much for that explanation Bob, I do appreciate it. I must admit I was wondering why paper needed ironing and now I know! ;) More seriously, I was wondering too whether a scan could be too flattering and then an entry rejected - I had two scans of my entry, my own, which gave a rather nice pink background and enhanced the flesh tones, and a professional version which shows the white background as it is but makes the portrait look a little flat. So I plumped for the less flattering one! It's a difficult thing though to get a scan to accurately reflect the artwork. No doubt judges are well aware of all the problems.

Apart from the few basic questions, I found the submissions process straightforward and easy - although I had help from the males in the family to explain TIFFs from JPEGs as I'd only ever used JPEGs up until then! Uploading onto a secure website sounds like a very good idea, especially of it makes it easier for the organisers too.

I have just one criticism, if it could be called that, in that there is a special requirement for the gallery re. the hanging system and I feel that more information should be forthcoming on what size of frame is suitable. Will the frames get damaged in the process of nailing the plates into them, particularly if the frame is too narrow? I assume that at the back of the frame there should be no protuberances of any sort? And presumably only wooden frames are suitable here?

Bob Ebdon said...

We, like you, are learning all the time about exhibitions Felicity, and the hanging requirement was a new one to us. The Gallery uses small plates fixed to the back of the frames to hang the works - these are then screwed to the wall, making them much more secure against theft than a hanging system that relies on cords. If you tell your framer this, you should be fine. Otherwise, I would recommend that the frame must be at least 3cm wide at the back. A small drill will then be used to make two pilot holes, one above the other, and small screws used to fix the plates to the back of the frames. This process will be very familiar to professional framers, and they will advise whether your frame will be suitable.

Anonymous said...

Framing has been an issue for me not to enter your shows ... I simply don't understand how it should be framed. For the dummies like me ;) - would it be possible simply to show a photo / drawing on how the frame should look on the back ? That would probably enlighten me (and others) on that issue....

Bob Ebdon said...

For all of our previous shows this has not been an issue - it is just this gallery that has these special requirements, which are actually not that special, many other galleries hang in the same way. The main points are the frame must be wood, to take two small screws each side, flat, and at least 3cms wide. I can't make it much clearer than that.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Bob - the framing requirement this year is exactly the same as that required by the Mall Galleries and others for exhibitions by national art societies

Over and above the security offered by mirror plates, the other advantage of using D rings or mirror plates is quite simple - and very obvious when you see how frames get stacked and stored in galleries before an exhibition.

Screw type hanging gear projecting from the back of the frame would result in work being rejected for exhibition by many galleries - due to the risk that one frames screw hooks would damage the surface of the frame stacked behind.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

For those looking for help on framing I wrote down all I know after I finished my framing for one of my exhibitions this year - so I can remember it all next time!

You can read it all in How to mat and frame your artwork - which also attracted a lot of useful tips from other people.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Bob - I'll try to stop commenting - honest! Here's the last one...

I certainly think it would be an awful lot easier for Pat and much more efficient and effective for jurors if an online digital image service was used. Plus it would greatly ease the process if a juror became unavailable late in the day.

It's also relevant to note that the BBC reported this week that two thirds of UK homes are now online.....and this percentage is higher still in 'educated' households.

I'd like to pose another question in connection with this idea of an online facility for submission - which is how about opening up access to all images submitted? (How do I formally go about asking that question at the AGM?)

UKCPS members and readers of this blog may not be aware that CPSA has a slideshow at its convention each year of all work submitted - irrespective of whether or not it was accepted. That means that all members attending the convention get to see all submissions - and I have to tell you having sat through seven carousels of slides in Albuquerque that it's very educational!!!

If you want an online service which would be minimal cost for both members and UKCPS then I suggest you have a think about whether you could use the option to have a closed (private) group at a facility like Flickr. It would work in much the same way as the UKCPS Yahoo group but would be for images.

The advantages of using a facility like Flickr (if UKCPS took out a pro subscription) is that anybody can look at the images anywhere in the world - so long as they are people approved for access to that group's pool. It might also be feasible to consider having some sort of voting arrangement for which image the members liked the best. (If the Threadneedle Prize can do it why not UKCPS!)

UKCPS could control access to the group and the pool of images - and hence could control which images were shown and crucially who can see them.

All it requires is that people have access to a computer - they could then upload their images direct via which a personal and approved Flickr account. You could specify the size (in pixels) to make things fairer/safer. If you made digital submission mandatory then Pat's work could be limited to uploading all submissions by people who can't physically do it through Flickr and moderating submissions coming in online.

One to mull on for the future maybe? I think it's probably best to look at this as a two stage process and separate out decisions about the principle of going online from which is the best facility to use.


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