How to Judge an Art Contest

By Susan Miskelly
Many galleries host annual art contests.

It's an honor to be asked to judge an art contest. Judges are often well-respected or well-known artists, art educators or patrons of the arts. But judging an art contest can be difficult. It's subjective work, and can be tricky if you know someone who's exhibiting. Follow these tips to make the judging experience productive for both you and the artists.

Familiarize yourself with the contest's rules. Know what categories you'll be judging and what parameters the artists had to follow.

Review the submitted images quickly but thoroughly. There may be hundreds of entries for you to view.

Give equal opportunity to pieces that are outside your area of specialty. You may be more partial to photographs if you're a photographer, but all of the submitting artists deserve consideration.

Judging criteria will vary from contest to contest, but in general you should assess how well the artist carried out the theme of the contest in his entry, how much creativity was demonstrated in the piece, and what kind of statement the entry makes. Also consider if an entry successfully functions as a piece of art outside of the contest's requirements.

Recognize your contribution. Your participation helps enrich the arts community, and your opinions could help launch the career of a promising artist.

About the Author

Susan Miskelly is a freelance writer and editor living in Rock Hill, S.C.; she specializes in a wide variety of topics, including travel, photography and technology. Miskelly is a published children's writer and has diverse experiences in corporate and nonprofit communications and publicity. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood elementary education from Converse College.