Getting somewhere as an artist is not an easy matter, but there are some eternal truths guiding the paths to success, one of which is Win Prizes and Enter Big Shows.
This is sound advice, and assuming the artist is on a roll of successful art-making, it’s a worthy aim.
The biggest challenge however in Winning Prizes and Entering Shows is not doing eye-catching great work: It’s entering competitions and making submissions in the first place.
First, the psychological hurdle of “What’s the point? I’ll never win/be selected anyway.” That’s easily overcome by the counter arguments that “Someone has to win” and “You certainly won’t be selected if you don’t even enter”.
Next the delusion that it’s too much trouble to keep up with entry and delivery deadlines. I was very good at this excuse for many years. Keeping a diary isn’t a bad idea here, and I think telling myself that not keeping a dairy is good exercise for my brain is lame. Anyway, with wonderful monthly updates from Artists Competitions, the diarising is done for me.
So finally, the cost-of-submission argument. When you add up entry fees, and petrol costs and time and speeding fines and license penalty points (Jerwood Drawing Prize, 2010) or train tickets and time, or courier cost, the price of failure can be astronomical.
But I have resolved to change in 2013. My new routine of daily practice development habits with all excuses and procrastination tendencies cast aside has already brought me success in one competition, and with the annual RA Summer Exhibition on the horizon, I decided this year I would actually enter, and somehow I would do so cost effectively.
And so at 7.40am this morning I was lurking in a parking bay in a nearly deserted car park at Wetherby services off the A1, cash in hand, waiting to rendezvous with a large white van with flashing hazard lights.
Exactly on time, the van pulled in to the parking area, and like the humans drawn to the spaceship in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951 version, obviously), we aspiring Summer Exhibition exhibitors emerged from the cover of our vehicles and glided towards the white van clutching bubble-wrapped offerings.
Picture Post, the answer to my competition delivery dreams, was in fact suggested to entrants by the RA in its exhibition entry blurb, and that’s how I decided to give it a go. It’s not got a website, but the brilliant Making A Mark blog gives a valuable review of this and other similar possibilities. And Picture Post has so far proved simple, efficient, convenient and cost-effective. Plus, I got to visit and linger in Wetherby A1 services which is a cut above most of the M1 services I’ve frequented in recent months, and it’s always nice to sit in a pleasant Services, and then drive home on an empty motorway in full sunshine.
And I’ve ticked the daily good habit box.