14 Jan

Live and Learn

I picked up four quilts from the local photographer today. $200 later, I have most, but not all, of the slides I might need to enter a show. Considering the photographer’s time and equipment, $200 doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, but in my grand scheme of things, this artist gig is getting expensive! Melody alluded to this connundrum in one of her recent posts, and here’s my take on it plus more. When you add in $20 per quilt entry fee and about $20 each way to mail them with insurance, I’m getting close to $100 investment per quilt. Now that could be recouped by winning a third place ribbon, but come on, how often does that happen? On the other hand, quilt art does no one any good moldering in a closet, and walls and friends’ walls fill up pretty quickly. Besides, acceptance into a show seems like a welcome validation to me (that’s why I’ve waited so long to try entering quilts into shows outside our little army community; I’ve never been sure my art was up to par).

I made the decision a few months ago to try to enter more shows, and now I’m learning that it’s a lot more than just deciding which one has an appropriate theme, or a deadline you can make. In general, my two best quilts are too small for the major competitions. I’ve increased the size of my design wall/area to help out that challenge.

Then there’s availability. I was intrigued by the European Art Quilts IV show, but I’m not ready to let Katja’s Owlz go on a two or more year tour.

Images: I have taken slides in my house (too yellow, not enough room to set up real lights, no fun moving every few years into 1000 square foot apartments with photography equipment), in my yard (unpredictable sun and wind, distracting backgrounds), and now by a professional (need to work out the kinks in explaining what I need in german, costly). Many want slides; some now accept digital pics, but with an accompanying print, so I scramble a bit figuring out just what more I need to procure for each entry. Not sure what the answer will be on that front.

Keeping track of all this stuff. I think this is actually OK. I’ve made a spreadsheet of the shows, their entry deadlines, what I would consider entering, etc. So far, I’ve been crossing a lot of shows off my list! Here’s most of what I’ve been contemplating: Patchwork Expo X (Tactile Architecture seems a possible fit for my little strip-fuse-y castles), Quilts for Change, AQS Nashville (Katja’s Owlz actually fits in Category C), Festival of Quilts in England, IQF Houston (probably only if I finish a bigger quilt than any I currently have), PIQF (ditto). Do any of you out in blog-land have favorites I should check out as well?

So, I’m learning about this quilt show dance. If nothing else it is making me feel better about having a show of my own. I often feel very presumptuous thinking that I could have my own show, but the other side of the coin is that I’m not at the mercy of jurors; size limitations are my own; and just which, and how many pieces I show is negotiable. I don’t know where I’d stand monetarily, but I imagine some plates of crudités and hanging supplies wouldn’t be too much scarier than all the entry money spent on entering shows!

4 thoughts on “Live and Learn

  1. I Used to mae larger quilts that I could enter in the “big” shows, but I am more comfortable doing the small arty thing and it is true, there are not a lot of venues out there and there is more competition – the shows tend to be smaller. So I will just keep plugging along, maybe occasionally making something large to try for Houston. Good luck to you. Maybe we will hang side by side some day.

  2. On my blog I added a list of shows that I want to enter…if I enter 4 of them this year I will meet my goal. Its under the heading “Stay Focused” in the side bar. There is also The Form, Not Function show but the 2007 info is not available yet. The deadline has typically been in Oct. for that one.

    And I also lamented the cost of entering shows. My first experience with this was sending a quilt for Indelible Spirit and she allowed us to see images via jpeg so I didn’t have the expense of slides or hiring a photographer.

  3. I feel your pain, Kristin. It really does get expensive to enter very many shows and when you don’t get in the show it hurts all the more because of what you’ve spent. I have, first of all, been taking my own photos. I take digital photos and then have slides made, so it is easy to experiment with light and other conditions until you get a good photo before getting the slide done. I have invested in a small tripod, which helps a lot in getting good, clear photos. I photo my quilts outside on an overcast day, which we have plenty of here in Portland, without flash. This seems to produce the best, most accurate color.

    I am also really selective about which shows I enter and I look for selling opportunities as well. I don’t feel so badly about paying entry fees if there is a chance that I might sell the piece.

    Having your own show is a great idea as well. I don’t know about you, but I am really intimidated about approaching galleries, but I get more courage if I’m part of a group and group shows are always good too–you get a lot more people coming in with a group, each of whom has their own group of friends and admirers!

  4. The best shows to enter in the US are the Mancuso shows because they have very few size restrictions and take digitals. The World Quilt and Textile exhibit would work perfectly for you, since you could enter from Germany.
    Also, can you get Kodak Elite 100 or 200 Slide film over there? I find it takes perfect shows entry slides with just the flash from my slr camera.

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