Curating an exhibition of other artists work has been an absolutely incredible experience and I feel so damn lucky to have been a part of the process. All of the art submitted has been incredible in one way or another, and I am really looking forward to meeting those artists in person that I don't already know. Some are across the country and I won't get to meet them this time around, but seeing their work in real life has been such a thrill. It is such a pleasure to see art up close which is produced by artists whose work I consistently respect and enjoy.
I'm not unhappy that my art isn't part of this exhibition I'm curating - seeing things work from the other side has been such a valuable experience; I know I wouldn't swap it. I've walked away with a new-found respect for curators and gallery staff, and had the opportunity to be reminded once again just how varied and unique the creative approach can be, even within a relatively specific brief.
Being on this side of things has caused me to think about my own submitting practises, though, and I've come away with the following resolutions. Some I have always tried to adhere to, and some that I hadn't thought about but that I intend to rigidly follow when I submit work in the future. (Please don't take any of the advise I'm about to give myself as gospel - or even as sensible. Every lesson can change in the twinkling of an eye and every conclusion can be wrong, after all.)
1) When the brief states that files be submitted in a certain format, I will make every effort to ensure that my files are exactly as described. If I am asked for an image in a jpeg format, then that is what I will provide. If I am asked for a Word Document, I will make bloody sure that a Word Document is what I send. Because I realise, now as never before, there is a person on the other end of my submission who has to collate my information and even if my submission is unsuccessful, submitting a picture embedded in a pdf when a jpeg has been requested just makes things unnecessarily painful for them. The majority of people will quite simply not accept your submission if files are not in the format requested, and I really truly do understand why, now.
2) I will make sure I measure at least twice, and that my measurements of the final piece are correct. And I will never, ever, submit work for something that has a size limit when I know my work is bigger than that. Size limits are put in place for a reason. (And again, most places just simply won't hang your work if it exceeds the limits prescribed by them.)
3) I will not be afraid to ask questions about the required processes if there is something I don't know, no matter how stupid they sound in my head (or how painful I think they may be for the gallery staff.) And I will not hold back from questioning something I think may be a mistake. (Except probably selection/ rejections as a finalist/ shortlistee.) Maybe I'll be given a serve and told where to go, but maybe not.
4) I will make sure I send the BEST photo of my work that I can. By which I don't mean a photoshopped, dollied up, enhanced version of my work. I mean a clear, crisp image that represents my work realistically and in the best light, and that shows the entire piece of my work, not just a snippet.
5) I will make sure that there isn't a document in my submission that has a title which infers that it is important and yet once opened turns out to be blank.
6) I will police how I use the words inspire/ inspired/ inspiration (and how often).
7) I will respect the efforts of EVERY person who submits work along with mine. The only shoes I can ever wear are my own. A person's art is a special view into their journey and, love it or not, identify with it or not, sharing part of your soul with the world in the form of an art work is very brave and always deserves courtesy and respect. No matter if that glimpse comes in the form of a stunning once in a life time encounter, an assault to the retinas with a hard-core wallop or as a lukewarm, damp, limp slap.
8) I will not wait for the last minute to submit unless the artwork actually isn't ready until then.
9) I will not let doubt of my work stop me from submitting when I am actually proud of it.
10) I will never stop learning. (Phew.)
*To all the seasoned veteran curators out there, feel free to correct me on any (or all) points. :-)