You’ve got your lovely quilt made and are dying to share it with the world. What now? Make sure you’ve nailed down your motivation so that you can find the right venue as we discussed in the previous posts. You know yourself well enough that you are headed towards either a traditional quilt show or a fine art show, or something in between. You know the difference between non-juried and juried, and the difference between the jury and the judging process.
Now it’s time to hunt down specific shows to enter. Fortunately with the internet this really isn’t difficult. Here are a couple of resources for you to start with:
CaFÉ is an extensive and easily searchable list of entry calls for fine art shows.
The list I maintain on this site includes only shows that primarily feature art quilts.
If you just want traditional quilt shows… google Quilt Shows, it’s always good to start with your local quilt guild.
Now it’s time to get organized. If you really get into entering shows and have more than one quilt out there circulating, things can get complicated rather fast. It’s been a while since I really invested a lot of time and energy (and $$$) into entering lots of shows, but here is how I worked it out and organized my entries. I like to see the big picture with my lists – all the dates on one page. I’m very visual. And you can see by the dates it was a long time ago. I still enter shows most years but only a few now.
To organize entries I found a paper calendar and notebook that I could scribble on and highlight was exactly what worked best for me. Idid enter everything in a spreadsheet but personally, I see the details better in paper form so I printed them out. You should feel free to use your computer and devices. Try different methods and use whichever works best for you.
Front Page = Entry Dates + Title + URL
The front cover of my binder has a list with upcoming show entry dates that I’m interested in entering. I use my Calls for Entry list to research each show and add it to the list. Make sure to clearly note if there are any unusual entry requirements and other pertinent entry information. Are there size requirements or expiration dates (my personal pet peeve!) I also note prized money, commission fees, or anything out of the ordinary such as a live jury (in which you are required to send your actual quilt in for a second jury round.) Oh! Don’t forget the virgin quilt rule!!! If any images of your piece filter out anywhere, and I do mean anywhere – like blogs or your Aunt Martha’s Facebook page included, you are OUT! There are only a few shows out there that require this but sometimes they are worth going for.
I can’t emphasize this enough – read everything in the show prospectus very carefully! It is your responsibility to pay attention to all of the details. (And yes, I’m preaching to myself. I have a terrible time with catching all the details and I’ve paid for it on more than one occasion.)
I make notes all over this page, and often highlight the show I’m most interested in entering. Some people are able to make a new piece for each exhibit they want to enter but that simply doesn’t work for me. I have too many things in “real life” that frustrate the best laid plans so I’ve learned to simply plan as much as possible then be prepared to let it all go without getting frustrated about it all.
Take notes here – is there prize money involved? Is it a show with a large audience? Remember to keep in mind your reasons for showing your work so that you can stay focused. Mark which shows are most important to you and focus on them first.
Back Page = Shipping – Exhibit Dates + Eligible Art
The back page of my notebook lists shows by shipping and exhibit dates as seen below. If your entry doesn’t include return shipping dates, tack on a minimum of two weeks to the end date to be really safe. Some museum venues as well as the International Quilt Festival’s special exhibits can take up to a month or more to return your artwork to you.
On this list I write in which artworks might fit in each show, then look for the next show that piece might be eligible for, and draw a line down to that date. You might find it cleaner and easier to create a calendar with a special color for each quilt. One artist I know uses a giant wall calendar with colored sticky notes for this, one uses her computer. Again, choose whichever method works best for YOU.
Make absolutely sure that there is no chance whatsoever that shows will overlap. It’s a BIG no-no to enter a quilt in a show, have it accepted, then to withdraw it because it already got into an overlapping show.
Fill Out Those Forms!!!
Now get busy and fill out those forms. Enter those shows. Get your work out there!
In my notebook I have sheet protectors that hold each prospectus. It’s marked “entered” if I haven’t heard yet whether the work is accepted or not, and “out” if the work has been accepted and shipped. As soon as I get a rejection notice I take the page away so that the notebook stays organized and slim.
These days I also keep a spreadsheet on my computer with color codes for entered, accepted, and out. That way I can check on it from any device that’s with me. I still keep the notebook though.
When a quilt is accepted into a show I put the shipping date on my calendar in big bold letters. My worst nightmare is to forget to ship a quilt. Funny story. As I was packing down an exhibit I had curated I noticed that there was a quilt missing. Immediate panic and horror. As far as I knew, it had never arrived. Somehow I had missed noticing that. Had the quilt been lost in the mail for months? Was it stolen? I took a big gulp and called the out-of-town artist. Imagine my relief when I heard that she had completely forgotten about the show and hadn’t sent the quilt. I was SOOOOO relieved. I also had to laugh in sympathy because that sounds so much like something I might do. Just so you know, other, wiser, people with systems and lists are now in charge of this show by the way.
Things inside the Entry Notebook:
- Sleeve protecter for copies of entries I had sent out. I wrote big and bold on the top corner of the form the names of the quilts.
- Sleeve protectors for accepted entries. I wrote (again) big and bold the shipping deadline and filed them in order.
- Sleeve protector for entry forms of quilts that were currently out.
- Sleeve protector for quilts that had come back in.
- All the vital stats for my quilts: date, size, price, insurance info.
- Page for each quilt with a show history and awards, yes – I also fear I’ll enter the a quilt in the same show twice. I have a sieve for a brain.
- Appraisals and insurance forms.