Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Blogging art - two new competitions

Today is 1st July which means there's six months left until the end of the year - and The Making A Mark Awards 2008 (see the links at the end for previous awards and recipients.)

Last year I introduced a competition - in which blog readers voted for the winner of The MAMA Prize – for the best artwork completed and posted on an art/illustrated blog in 2007.

In 2008, I've decided to run two new competitions. Today, with six months left, I'm going to tell you a little bit about them both - how they will be run and how they will be judged. This blog post is also your opportunity to have an input to both process and criteria. This isn't a democratic process but I am very interested to hear your views - and there is going to be at least one poll!

The Making A Mark Art Society Blog of the Year

The title is fairly self-explanatory. More and more art societies are moving over to using a blog, as well as a website, to communicate with their members and potential members.

Art Society Blogs are being used as
  • marketing tools for the activities of the art society
  • a means of highlighting excellence within members' work
  • highlighting exhibitions where members work can be seen.
  • a means of communicating society information to members
  • a means of communicating with those wanting to enter work in art society exhibitions.
Nominations: At the beginning of December I'm going to ask for nominations from readers - which can be the blog owners - for art society blogs which should go on the short list. I'll then post the short-list in a special blog post which anybody can comment on.

Judging: Judging is going to be down to me - although I may well seek views from others as well. The reality is that it isn't practical to make it a vote-based competition because, although you;d all want to be very fair, such an arrangement might inadevertently lead to the society with the most members getting the most votes!!! ;)

Criteria: Here's my first thoughts as to criteria as to what makes a successful art blog. Please let me know whether you think I should add any more criteria and also which of the suggested criteria you think are most important.
  • Active communication: all nominated blogs should have an established track record. This means all nominated blogs need to be at least three months old and preferably older (so you still have three months left in which to start one!) and have a history of regular posting. Blogs will gain points for being active communicators.
  • Quality of promotion: an art society blog should do an excellent job at promoting the art society - its members and activities - to a wider audience
  • Green and efficient: The art society recognises that the blog can help it address two key concerns
    • Green concerns: blogging as part of an art society's commitment to becoming more green e.g. reduce use of paper for newsletters and the carbon footprint associated with paper-based newsletter production and delivery

    • Efficiency concerns: blogging as part of an art society's commitment to become more efficient, improve communication and reduce costs e.g. reduce costs associated with printing and postage and volunteer effort associated with stuffing envelopes
The Making A Mark Prize for Female Portrait Artist of the Year - on a Blog

This competition stems from my comments in relation to UK portraiture and the fact that this appears to be dominated by men at present.
  • Only 6% of the members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters are women,
  • Very few women have won the BP Portrait Prize and only about a third of the works displayed in the BP Portrait exhibition are by women.
  • Very few of the portrait works commissioned by national galleries are by women.
Now I know that there are lots of simply stunning female artists out there - and that we need to see more of them! So my notion is that the profile of the female portrait artist should be encouraged by having a competition which celebrates their work. Hopefully over time this sort of award will become completely redundant as the wider art community realises just how many really great female portrait artists there are out there!

This competition needs a much snappier title. It sounds very literal and rather odd at the moment. Suggestions which hopefully find a way of working in the endorsement "Making A Mark" are most welcome.

  • Readers of this blog can nominate work by any artist - so long as that work has appeared on a blog.
  • Nominations for the short-list will be invited on 1st December and nominations will be open for a period of two weeks. Nominations must include a link to the blog posts where the work has appeared. (Note - if you see a work which you'd like to nominate between now and December - make a note of the title AND the URL of the blog post)
  • A short list will be selected if more than 10 artists are nominated. Digital images of a predetermined size (pixels and kb) will be required of all short-listed work
  • All nominations accepted for shortlisting must be with the agreement of the nominated artist (ie all artists need to agree to their work being put forward and for it to be displayed on this blog - or an alternative site - as part of the shortlist)
  • The shortlist will be posted with a poll during December 2008 and blog readers will be invited to vote for the artist that they think has produced the best work. The results of the poll will influence the final decision which will be announced as part of the Making A Mark 2008 Awards at the end of December.
Criteria: Again, here are my first thoughts as to criteria - and, again, please feel free to comment and suggest revisions. I'll post the final version once you've had the opportunity to comment.
  • Gender - Female Portrait Artist: This award is gender specific because of the perceived under-representation of women in portraiture (see above). It aims to (a) celebrate and highlight excellence in portraiture by female artists and (b) to become a completely redundant prize at the earliest opportunity!
  • Eligible work:
    • Media: Work in all hand-crafted media is eligible. Eligible media includes oils, acrylics, tempera, casein, watercolour, pastels, coloured pencils, charcoal, graphite, pen and ink and fine art hand-made prints. Photography, sculpture, and all digital art are NOT eligible.
    • Size: The work can be any size - however size must be detailed on the nomination. In addition all digital images submitted for the shortlist must conform to a predetermined size and be with the agreement of the artist.
    • Hand-made: The work of the winning artist may be a painting, drawing or a hand-made print.
    • Age: All artwork should have been completed in the last two years.
    • Displayed on a Blog: The work must have been displayed on a blog at some point during 2008 although the artist herself is not required to be a blogger (so, for example, it might be posted by an art society on their blog!). A link to the place where the portrait has been displayed is a requirement on entry.
    • Gender: Only nominations of female artists will be accepted. This award aims to promote the work of female portrait artists rather than female artists who are bloggers (but see also the "The Mary Cassatt Special Mention" below).
Selection of Female Portrait Artist of the Year:
  • The award is to an artist on the basis of a single work. Accordingly, the selection will be made on the basis of a single portrait, although more than one portrait by the same artist can be nominated and can be part of the short list.
  • Selection will be based on a single digital image of a single portrait. Those nominating the artist should seek the best possible digital image within the predetermined size (pixels/kb - to be determined).
  • Selection will be based on the results of a poll (of blog readers) AND deliberations by a panel - more details to be announced.
The Mary Cassatt Special Mention: There will be a special mention as part of The Making A Mark Awards for the artist with a blog who displays the best portfolio of portrait drawings or prints on a blog in 2008. Nominations will also be invited at the beginning of December.

As always, I'm very happy for readers to comment and to let me know what you think about my proposals and suggested criteria.

Prizes and Sponsors
My view is that competitions should be about recognition rather than prizes. However if some organisation would like to sponsor and offer a stunning prize for either of these competition please contact me in the normal way (see right hand column).

I don't feel in any way bound to accept any offers - but if it's a really stunning one from a prestigious organisation I guess I'd have to think very hard about it!

Over to you - what do you think of the new Making A Mark Awards? Do you have any comments on the proposals? Do you have any suggestions? Maybe you have some early thoughts as to suitable nominations?


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