My opinion about Annual Art Book Submissions

Quite recently I was involved in a discussion on a facebook post by fellow artist Peter Mohrbacher. This post went probably so out of control that he wrote a blog post about that matter.

In short, the only sentiment he wrote on fb was this:
“If you want to buy exposure for your art, don't pay entry fees to publications, just buy an ad.”
Actually the comment section of that post was filled with questions and different opinions about that topic, as to be expected. My personal thought is that this matter is too specific to write a 5 minute post on facebook about it, just to have it lost when the OP deletes it afterwards. So this is me here, chiming in to this discussion and give my advice towards emerging artists who have the same question:

To submit or not to submit?

There is no easy anwer as Pete´s opinion is subjective, mine is and everyone else you will ask has a subjective opinion about that matter.
These opinions are shaped by experience or by social media or the result of instant opinions generated by observation only.

Collection of books my work is published in (2013)
I may not be as popular as Pete, but my work was also published in around 7 of the Exposé artbooks by Ballistiq, Infected by Art and some books published by Ilex press.
As hard as it seems I can say the sentiment is true, it does not bring business to you by being included in a book such as Spectrum. They have their favorite artists and is more than natural that they want to see that calibre of work.

I wrote another article about submission to Spectrum a while back and my opinion did not change. I tried the online submission system because that was what I criticized mostly the last time around, but after 3 times and not being accepted, I don´t need Spectrum to know that my work is good. Reading the above quote just underlines what I was thinking for a very long time.

What I have distilled out of this debate is a little guide that everyone can take into account to come to a personal conclusion:

Recognition is a basic need. Period.

And so is advertising for a business.

In order to decide if you should submit to any annual art book competition, I´d suggest to think about your basic needs first.
  • If you need recognition but don´t have a business depending from it, you can surely submit. But don´t expect being accepted as a career transforming event. You need to be published constantly and on full pages to have a tiny effect.
  • If you need recognition AND have a business depending on it, you can submit - but you would be good advised to submit as much awesome material as possible and not just your 3 best pieces.
  •  If you run an art business and know that you are good through peer feedback, clients and other sources, there are better ways to spend money and time. (Cynic mode on) Except you know the publisher and you get a good spot in the book just by asking them. (Cynic mode off)
This is just a basic guide to see if you should even consider to submit to a juried competition. The thing is that these juried competition have a very specific target audience but besides that it brings some credibility and popularity along the way to be included in such books.

However, in times like these a good crafted and targeted ad on facebook can bring the same revenue if selling prints on convention is what you need to do for a living.

If you have questions, thoughts about that matter or your own story about submitting to art books, don´t hesitate to share it with me in a comment. It does not get lost or deleted, promised ;)

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook

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