Can I substitute my painting?

A little bit of advice for artists who apply for shows, from someone who is an artist first and foremost, but who also runs the Okanagan Erotic Art Show, amongst others.

If you submit a work to be juried in to a show (my show, for example), and I go through the process of preparing it for the jurors, time is spent on it being juried, then it is accepted, and I have done a lot of work to get it in to a catalog, that is then printed, and the floor plan is done, the labels are done, please don’t write me and ask if you can substitute that painting in the show (going up shortly) because it has now been accepted in to a gallery.

I understand that having work in a gallery is fabulous, and exciting, however you made a commitment to the show. The organizers, (could be me, could be someone else) spent a lot of time on having your work in the show, and then for you to ask if you can pull it and plop another work in….

A friendly word of advice: if you have submitted it for acceptance in to a gallery, don’t include it for a submission to a show. If you have submitted it for a show, don’t include it for acceptance in a gallery. Please don’t be that artist. Make it easy for yourself, and don’t put yourself in that position, in the first place.

Artist Interviews – challenging, for the artist and the interviewer

I was recently featured in an artist interview, and am going to be doing a series on other artists as well.

Apart from being valuable SEO tools and information, they help the interviewer and the interviewee consider their own work. And that is always invaluable!

Thank you to Miriam Schulman, also a figurative artist, for the interview and for opening this door for me.  I appreciate the vote of confidence, not only in my work, but knowing and understanding that I will try to help others, as she has done.

To read the interview Miriam has done, follow this link, it will open a new window.

Be sure to check out Miriam’s work available on Etsy, and her facebook page.

Miriam Schulman New York Artist

Paper Girl Kelowna and West Kelowna

From my friend Sarah….
Hello Dear Artist Friends…:O)…

I am excited to announce that, Papergirl Kelowna 2011, will be happening mid October, with the event itself being held at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna.
Papergirl Kelowna is an art project which involves artists donating artwork to be given freely away to members of the public. The Papergirl aspect involves riders on bicycles cycling out into the community and giving several rolled up pieces of art to random members of the community for free. It offers the opportunity for people to be exposed to and experience art in a very unique and personal way. As a participant last year I witnessed first hand the happiness and exhilaration that was experienced by this generosity.
Before the actual donation takes place we exhibit the art and host an event party showcasing local musicians.
In sending this to you, we hope you will support us with an art donation. We ask for rollable art, prints or originals, photographs, written word, art cards, or rollable textiles. The quantity is not limited as the more art we recieve, the more we can give.
As a participant, we will promote you on our website and display your work at the event. You may also include your artist statement and photograph. We also encourage you to write a message to the recipient on the back of your art.
We are really looking forward to this year, we collected over 600 pieces of art last year and hope to raise at least 1000 this time around. We were also happy to welcome art from people throughout the globe.
We have 2 submission locations…
The New Moon Gallery, 1B-2525 Dobbin Rd, West Kelowna, BC, V4T 2GI
and Studio 113, The Rotary Centre for the Arts, Cawston Ave, Kelowna, BC V1Y 621.
Please protect your packages (flat works best) and address to Papergirl Kelowna. Closing date October the 7th.
We appreciate early donations..:O).
Visit our website for more information, photographs, and videos of last years event.
Please feel free to share with other artists, and art groups.
Please contact Sarah at if you have any questions.
Thank You.
An invitation to the event will be forwarded in the near future.

Artists don’t make this mistake when doing your biography

Frequently required for applications to shows, artists use their biography to inform their audience about their background. A tool for client interaction, biographies play an important role in establishing credibility and relevance for the artist.

The worst thing you can do, in my humble opinion, is to exaggerate your artist biography to make it more than it is. Once people find out the truth, you lose all credibility for anything else.

For example, if you studied for some years for a Bachelors, but did not complete, do not be nervous about stating this. If it was important for you to say you studied for XX then it is just as important for you to say why you stopped. Maybe life got in the way. It happens and is a valid part of your experience, and path to where you are now. But don’t lead people to think you have something when you don’t. Or don’t say it at all. A “do” would be to say what your past interactions were and how your background has informed your current situation today.

Or if you worked for an organization, be clear about what you did. Be proud of your involvement in various groups, and say that too. It is just like a job resume, in a way, it tells your audience who you are as a person by your past interests,  and gives depth to your art.

Here is a link to another view by Brian Sherwin, an American Art Critic, on what to include in biographies, though in this case, it is coupled with the artist statement.

As you feel more comfortable with your art and your role as an artist, you will realize that where you came from is just as valid as where you are going.

What is a juror for an art show?

To be a juror for an art show is something pretty special.

Jurors get to look at such a wide variety of artworks and select the ones that will appear in the show. They consider such things as the theme of the show, originality, the merit of workmanship and presentation. They consider the artist statement, the title and the bio. They stretch their imaginations and look beyond what is presented in the microcosm of artwork itself, beyond, in to the actual entire show presentation. How would a certain group of artworks look with each other?

There may be artworks that are of very high quality but would not fit with the majority of the other artworks that will be presented. Sometimes jurors prefer to see an artists work over and over again before they will accept them in to a show – almost like a test to see what the artists’ commitment is like.

Jurors are usually from a range of backgrounds. For my juries, whether for the Erotic Art Show or the Arts Awards, I try to select people with a wide variety of backgrounds, experienced artists themselves or even supporters or people who just interested in how the process goes. They may be educated in Fine Art, or they may be self-taught. Gut reactions are important in selecting art, as is education, sure, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, there is no formula to the jury selection. I also try to vary the jury members so that it is not the same people over and over again. By doing this, a greater number of the public become involved and they learn exactly what it is to be a juror, and how difficult it is. I also try to mix up experienced jurors with newbies. Both learn from the other as concepts of the artworks are discussed.

Jurors are honest in their evaluation of artworks. They are not in the business of being politically correct, but they are also not trying to be mean. An artist does not learn from wishy washy comments, but they do learn from honest gut reactions to the work. The best thing an artist can do with jury comments is to look at how these comments are received by them (the artist). Were they insulted? Were they pleased? Were the jurors on track and tell the artist what they expected to hear, or was it really out in left field? I believe the honesty is good for the artist even though it can come as a shock or is unexpected. It is better when it is unexpected don’t you think? Especially when it is a completely new viewpoint that provides a new way in to their work. How precious a gift that is!

And artists know this. Artists are brave creatures to submit work to a jury. Regardless if they are young artists or older artists, in age or experience, there is always a quiver of “what if…” It’s an exciting time, the thrill of the hunt, of the catch. Artists always hope to be selected, some even fear it. But all artists who submit hope for the best. And they know the jury will do their best to choose the works that will make a cohesive rounded exciting show.

Art Shows & Curators – Calls to Artists Part 2

Sometimes the sad truth is that you may not like how a curator displays your work.

In a nutshell, too bad for you.

You have the option to either see it as the curator sees it, or the message that the curator is trying to get across or understand how the curator had to work within the space confines, or you can take your work out.

If you take your work out, you run the risk of looking like a high maintenance prima donna, or in my eyes, at the least, very unprofessional. But that is your choice.

When you submit work for an art show, whether in a gallery, an informal community centre such as the RCA Galleria, or in your own space, you need to remember to think about a few things, and to do a few things, BEFORE you submit, and then remember these AFTER you submit. A Call to Artists is a Call to Artists, regardless if the art will be presented in a gallery for a fundraiser, or if in a public gallery for a show, or a commercial gallery for sale.

First, is the Call to Artists. Your job, and the scope of your responsibility is the artwork. I’ve addressed the majority of the issues already in this blog post here. In the Call, there may be specific requests or requirements, such as having the works ready and wired to hang, or framing issues etc. If you have any questions at all, the time to ask them will be at the Call to Artists. Even if the Call does not state, use your initiative to ASK about space issues – should you submit a large work or a small one? ASK about potential client attendees – should you submit to a price point, or a specific subject, or a specific size or should they be framed?

There are normally two main goals when you submit work to a Call: exposure and sales (or cv if work is not for sale). Why wouldn’t you do the absolute best you can to satisfy and succeed in those two goals?

rant/ RESPECT the deadlines! Can I say that any louder? RESPECT THE DEADLINES! That means you need to mark your own calendar, and be responsible for work drop off, and for work pick up…. ON TIME! When I coordinate a show, I don’t want you calling me every week and asking me when to drop off work, or when to pick up work, when I have already provided you with that information! (I am thinking of one particular artist who did that. I no longer take their calls.) I am not your mother, or your caretaker, or your angel on your shoulder! I gave you a timeline, use it! Am I frustrated? Can you tell? lol! Okay, that felt better. If you don’t have a calendar, get one. Then, after you get the calendar, use it. The excuse “I am an artist, I am above/I don’t know how/can’t/don’t want to” is bullshit. I don’t care if it is a hard copy book, or one online, just get one, then use it! Yes, that is a direct command from General Trops! I use google calendars, I can access them from anywhere on the web, my whole family is on there, so if I need to figure out if an appointment is doable, I log in and check. So simple! /rant

When a curator is installing a work they have to work, at the very minimum, within constraints such as space, and what other works are submitted. The best overall look for a show is the number one priority for the curator. Simply put, artist egos have no place in determining where an artwork goes. Larger works are usually placed first, or depending on the message that needs to be conveyed, the artworks that are placed first are usually the strongest in that message. Something I should say again, is that artist egos have no place in deciding where an artwork goes, most especially in a group show.

Make sure your artworks are labeled! Recently I had the opportunity to coordinate and curate the Evergreen Art Gallery of about 40 or 50 works – I would say at least 75% of the works were not marked on the back. Nothing. No title, no medium, no artist name, nothing. When the same artist submits five pieces, and none of them are marked, what do you think is the likelihood of the correct tag being put on the work? Or if an artist submits an unmarked diptych or a triptych, what is the likelihood that they will be arranged properly? Obviously if the artist does not care to mark the piece, then should I care to make sure the right tag is on it, or it is in the right order? oops… that is sounding dangerously like another rant. Well, I think you get the idea.

When you submit work for a show, it is the curator’s job to ensure it all works within the space and the artworks as a whole.  The artist is responsible for their work arriving and departing, and the curator is responsible for the gestalt presentation.

Present your best artwork in a professional manner at all times, and the curator will do their best too.

Thoughts on “Calls to Artists” from an artist who coordinates and curates

I do a lot of shows in Kelowna and the surrounding area, some as an artist, some as curator/coordinator, some as both.

Two of the major ones that I have put out Calls to Artists are The Okanagan Erotic Art Show, and Evergreen Art Gallery (formerly Gallerie Diamante). Clicking on either of these two links will open a new window. If you have pop-up enabled, then each of the websites is – so

The calls themselves for each of these show are Okanagan wide – which means that it covers an area from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos – about a four to five hour drive – or about 500 km lengthwise. We are lucky in the Okanagan to have such a rich cache of artists.

Calls always include:

  • Images (high res usually is requested)
  • Art information (for labels, such as title, medium, size and price)
  • Artist Statements – (usually a one liner, or else 100-250 words)
  • Biography (short – about 100-250 words)
  • Timeline (deadline for call, when to drop off work, when to pick up work etc)

When I receive the information, out of every ten artists who answer, at least six of the packages are incomplete. The reasons they are incomplete follows:

Images of the Artwork

Images are one of the most complicated things for an artist to do it seems. The problem stems from not understanding your camera. Usually, with a camera, you point it at the object, and you click the button. Seems easy enough right? Well it is, once you get your camera set up! So instead of phoning me to ask me how to take a picture or to complain that you don’t know how to take a picture (no, I am not doing it for you!) learn how to do it!

Go to the camera shop where you bought your camera, whether London Drugs, Future Shop, Walmart etc. Tell them what you are doing – what size you need (largest), what light you are using, and ask them to set the camera up for you (ensure it is cmyk). Alternatively, you could read the manual, a highly recommended and effective way to spend your time.  (If you want to know more about the differences between cmyk (print) and rgb (web) please click here.)

After the camera is set up, the most important thing is to make sure it looks good in your little window, point and shoot. Ensure your hand or the camera is supported on something solid and you won’t get any fuzzies.

Size of file

The size of your file can be changed in the “tools” or “image” section of your imaging software. In Photoshop it is under “Image/image size”. In other programs, look for something similar.

For Print
Large files are required for print. By having a large file for print means that if the image is suitable for printing.

It fulfills these requirements:
a. it is 300 pixels resolution
b. it is 1500 pixels wide minimum
c. is cmyk

For Web
Small files are required for the web. By having a small file for the web means that it can be viewed on the web with minimal disruption (ie wait time) to the webpage visitor.

It fulfills these requirements:
a. it is 72 pixels resolution
b. it is 500 pixels wide
c. is rgb.

Type of file image
Some people are proponents of certain file types for printing and web. Quite frankly, if the curator or gallery manager needs a tiff file or a different file, they can change it over from your 300 pixel print jpg file. Don’t worry about that – just keep it simple unless you know what you are doing. Save it in jpg format. When you are completely comfortable with that and have the inclination to explore, by all means, explore and have fun. After you have take the picture, pull it in to an image editing software (preview on the mac and paint on windows), and crop it down so ony the artwork is visible (without any frames or mattes), and save it to your cd or your harddrive.

Make sure you know where you saved it.
The system I have set up on my computer is like this:


  • >2003
  • >2004
  • >2005
  • >2006 you get the idea

or you could also do something like


  • >artimages (ie in here you would have your large original images and your cropped images)
  • >artistdocs (ie in here you would store your short bio, long bio, short cv, long cv, pics of you)

How to label the artwork image file

Many different galleries and calls to artists have different requirements. Me, I like it really simple. lastname#web or lastname#print. So a large file for print can be used in anything printed: invitations, media releases, etc.

My image filename would look like this: trops1web.jpg or trops1print.jpg. No capitals.

Your image filename ie #1 or #2 etc, should correspond to the label information you have submitted. Please whatever you do, do not name your image the name of the artwork. Keep it simple: your name, the artwork # and if it is for web and print. When I am scanning for images to use, I need to know right away if it is print or web friendly, and to be able to access it quickly and efficiently. You save ME a lot of time by doing this.

Artwork Information

On a separate sheet or even within the email you send, label the artwork with the number which will correspond to the image, your name, the medium, the size and the price.

Unless specifically told otherwise, the size should always indicate height first.

For an artwork image trops1print.jpg or trops1web.jpg (it’s the same artwork but two images, so only one label is required.)

1. Rising Waters
Julia Trops
Oil on Canvas

Artist Statements

This is one I get asked about a lot. I am not an expert, I just know what I personally like and appreciate. I am not a fan of artist statements that require a PhD to read but if that is your aesthetic then by all means…. maybe you should take up writing instead of art? Just a thought. Anyway – you don’t know who your audience will be and likely they will read (or try to read) your artist statement. By keeping it simple, you are keeping it inclusive to all levels of understanding. But it is your choice.

When submitting to shows, you will require one of two types of an artist statement, well, perhaps even both: a short one sentence no more than 30 words, and one long, no more than 250 words. The short one can easily go by the artwork, if the curator wishes, or it can be published in the newspaper as part of a quote or it can be on the web. Long artist statements go in catalogs (if there is room) or on the promotional materials around the gallery if it is a solo or small group show.

Try to avoid putting three sentences in one, separated by commas, okay? Just do a straightforward honest one liner.

A name for this file could be something like trops_artiststatement_long.rtf or trops_as_long.txt. Save it as a rich text file or text file in order to be easily transportable across platforms (mac or pc) and programs (word etc). By saving it in an .rtf or .txt file means it is also easily copied in to webpages without much hassle. Other programs such as word etc tend to add little codings that can screw up a format on a webpage and cause havoc to the webmaster, so, keep it simple.

Artist Biographies

I have already written a primer on artist biographies, you can find it here. A few quick notes: an artist biography is not the same as a cv. A cv is something where you say what you have done. A biography is where you have come from. A cv is in point form of your accomplishments and involvements. A biography is a story about you. Yes a biography can include things from your cv, but it is a story.

Two types of bios could be asked for – a long one and a short one. Please, whatever you do, don’t write a book. Think 300 – 500 words for a long biography. For more information, visit the link above.

Title your file name the same manner you did for the artist statement.


And last but definitely not the least of which is the timeline.

The timeline is a schedule that I set out as coordinator which will dictate when I do things. I broadcast this loud and clear in the Call to Artists, and I say where you can find it on the web. If you are in the habit of not having your materials in on time and requesting extensions, please do not enter, but alternatively, you could consider counseling for lack of self-discipline or a disregard for other people’s time. A really good webpage to get you started back on the road to mental health is here.

Respect the deadlines.

If I tell you where the timeline is placed (usually on the web, and I even supply the web address!) then bookmark this page and go back to it if you have forgotten dates. Please do not write me three or four times in a month, and call me on the phone to find out when the deadlines are, I will think you are a flake. If you have trouble with calendars, or don’t have a calendar, sign up for google mail, and get their calendar. It is fabulous and will even email you reminders if you want!


Remember I am an artist too. I know how tough it is to do some of these things, but if you get them done, think of how easy every other call will be! If you want me, as curator or coordinator, to respect your professionalism, then please respect the Calls to Artist requirements. It isn’t rocket science, and with some careful planning in the beginning, entering a Call is a snap.

Good luck!

Showing your artwork in cafes or restaurants or other public spaces

is a very business oriented action. By this I mean you are entering in to a contract with another business owner to perform a service, which is supplying artwork for their walls. In supplying artwork for their walls, they receive a benefit, as do you, which is exposure and possible artwork sales.

The best way to not provide good service as an artist to your potential business partners is to never communicate, never provide updated contact information if you move or change phone numbers, and never follow-up on agreements to confirm that they are still in place or see if things have changed.

I was recently involved in a situation where an artist booked a space with a business in December, never communicated with the business owner when they (the artist) moved, or even throughout the time leading up to their appointment to hang their artwork in May. I, on the other hand, went in sometime in March, to this same business, and asked if there were any spots available – I was told no, not until the fall, however, there is someone who was to go in May who they couldn’t get in contact with.

Okay I said to the business owner, I will follow up with you later on. I went back the end of March, and again once a week in April (a total of about four times from March to April) to find out what was happening. Finally, the last week of April I was given the go ahead because this other artist had apparently dropped off the ends of the earth. I found out who the current showing artist was, and when they would be taking their artwork down. The two of us made arrangements, so that the business owner would not have bare walls for too long of a time.

Lo and behold, the lost artist came in on April 30th (I understand) and was surprised to find that they lost their position. I was asked ….Hmmm – would I be willing to share the time or the space? No, absolutely not, I replied – this is a business situation, I did my due diligence and then some. Maybe next time you can do yours.

Lessons I hope this other artist learned:

  1. always follow up and/or confirm as time goes on.
  2. you are an artist and your communication is not restricted to the visual – communicate with the business owner, and the artist previous to you to make the transition as seamless as possible.
  3. don’t throw tantums because you feel you have been slighted if you drop the ball, then NO one will want your work.