Which artworks should you include in an artist submission?

It can be daunting to choose a certain number of your artworks to include in a portfolio submission. Do you pick your favourites? Should you pick other people’s favourites? Would it be best to only include new works? Read the tips below to help chose which artworks to include in an artist submission.

Pay attention to what they want

This is the #1 golden rule of submissions. Sending a submission that does not comply to guidelines is a quick way to appear unprofessional, and could get you ignored. If guidelines state they want 5 images only, do not send 10 thinking they should see more. Choose your best 5 works and present them in a professional manner.

Avoid redundancies in your artwork submission

In the interest of keeping your submission interesting and fresh, avoid sending in multiple images which are very similar to each other. Your portfolio will end up looking much more engaging if you avoid this.

Quality over quantity: only send your best artwork

If the instructions indicate 10-20 works in a submission, remember that quality is more impressive than quantity. If you have works you are no longer interested in showing, don’t like anymore, or don’t represent where you are as an artist, don’t include them. It’s much better to send 10 outstanding works, than 10 outstanding works plus 10 mediocre ones.

Emailing your portfolio? Read this article for more info about how best to format and present your artwork digitally.

See what other people think of your artwork selection

You may have an idea of what works you want to include, but it never hurts to get a second (or third, or fourth!) opinion. Borrow some fresh eyes to get a different perspective on your selection of images. This is a great way to determine which images could work best.

Choose artworks that represent your practice well

Chose your images carefully to make sure your portfolio makes sense as a whole. This doesn’t mean everything needs to be from the same body of work, in the same medium, from any particular time period, or any other cohesive grouping. It just means that each piece should represent an element of your artistic practice that is relevant.

Do you have any strategies for which artworks to include in an artist submission? What works and what doesn’t work for you? 

4 responses to “Which artworks should you include in an artist submission?”

  1. Great list, and a very important post. It is difficult to know which photos to include sometimes.
    Also, quality photos are a must. If the jury or curator can’t make out the artwork because of bad lighting, you won’t leave a good impression. If you have a piece of artwork with an important detail that can easily be missed in the image, a close up / detail would be of great value to the person viewing your portfolio.

  2. I always worry that my work is TOO diverse – so I am glad to see your viewpoint about “cohesiveness”. Luckily, some of my stuff is no longer relevant, and I can shorten my list of “lines”. Thanks!

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