top of page

Are You Currently Submitting Work to Art Shows Issuing Awards? Here's a Helpful Q & A from a Judge!

Talented artist and retired art professor, JOAN BREDENDICK, lately finds herself an in-demand art judge. If you're lucky enough for her to be judging the show you're in, you will receive invaluable insights to your artistry. Also, don't be shy -- ask questions of whomever the judge might be to get even more feedback.

Art BEAT: As an exhibit judge, what is the very first thing you do when arriving at an art show?

JOAN: My selection process begins with two slowly paced walk throughs. I don’t stop moving. This walk gives me a first impression of how the show looks. Then I do a more calculated walk through, mentally noting individual pieces that are catching my attention – general technical skill and emotional draw.

Art BEAT: What is your discernment process as you start ruling in and ruling out award candidates?

JOAN: My discernment process takes into consideration the formal art elements: composition, value patterning and contrast, color mood, and theme. Are these elements used in a powerful way in the artwork? Is the artist using the formal elements to set the mood and describe the theme in the work?

Art BEAT: How do you continue narrowing down your selections, in other words, fine-tuning?

JOAN: By this point, I have narrowed the field to paintings (drawings, etc.) I believe have ticked off the above-mentioned elements/qualities. The fine tuning then proceeds from my emotional responses to the work.

Art BEAT: Do you take notes as you review candidates?

JOAN: Studying the artwork, getting closer to choosing the winners, I take notes. My reactions at this point include my personal subjectivity which is unavoidable as a person responding to a work of art. I have already engaged with pieces that have moved me for the various qualities mentioned above. I contain any biases I may have as to subject matter, style, presentation (although I believe presentation is hugely important). I ask myself, is this artist handling the subject matter effectively?

My final selections are then made. Next, I invite the organizing committee to view my choices.

Art BEAT: Any general comments on the challenges of judging a show?

JOAN: The fact of the matter is, different judges may pick different pieces on different days…within reason. Our human emotional and reactions may differ. That is not to say we are capricious, only that responses may differ from day-to-day depending on the art and the show that is presented. This understanding was cemented in my mind upon hearing two very prestigious judges discuss how they choose a show.

Art BEAT: Why is it important for BOTH winners and non-winners alike to learn from the judge why certain pieces were chosen over others?

JOAN: As a judge, I strongly believe that if given the opportunity, one should give feedback to artists, on an individual basis, if possible. Smaller, local shows may offer this opportunity but larger, regional and national exhibitions most like won’t. I know for myself as an artist, hearing the words of a judge can be very affirming. Most of us work in solitude and having another professional share their ideas with you can be a welcomed conversation.

Art BEAT: Joan, thank you for sharing your insights with our readers – I know they will find them helpful and enlightening. ###


bottom of page