Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Analysis of open entry to RSPP Annual Exhibition

Two posts today about the 121st Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
  1. See below for an analysis of (a) the impact of the digital submission on the entries and (b) the percentage of works selected which came from the open entry
  2. my review of this exhibition - which I highly recommend.  To my mind this year's exhibition rivals the quality of the entries typically seen in the BP Portrait exhibition.
A wall in the North Gallery - where most of the open entry is located
It's by no means easy to tell the work of members from open entries
Open Entry - the numbers

Many more entries were received as a result of opening up the entry process to digital submissions.  In my view this also had the beneficial impact of improving the quality of artwork by non-members on display.

This was the first year that the open entry has been encouraged to use the digital submission process - thus avoiding all the expense of bringing work to London or the regional pick up points unless invited to do so.

I was interested to see what sort of impact the digital submission had on numbers submitting work to the exhibition.  Indications from other exhibitions have been that it brings in lots of extra entries.

Thanks to the people at the Mall Galleries who were able to supply me with the numbers with regard to the entry and how this worked through to the artists whose work hung in the Gallery

It's worth making the point that in 2012, the FBA Societies and the Mall Galleries are dealing with four unknowns
  • what percentage of the overall entry will switch to digital in Year 1
  • how much bigger the entry will be because digital entry is now allowed
  • how many people will continue to submit work via 'normal' hand-ins in London and the regions
  • what the "right" percentage is for selecting artwork to proceed to stage 2 so that the panel isn't swamped with artwork to look at.
It's also a certainty that all of this will change again as the submission moves towards 100% digital entry.  I gather there's going to be a review by all the FBA Societies at the end of this year with a view to deciding what to do for 2013.  

Below you can see some of the impact that digital entry is having on the numbers of works - and artists - selected for exhibition

There's a tendency for the Open Entry to comprise more monochromatic work in dry media
Summary of the Numbers

Here is a summary of the numbers

Total size of open entry
  • 1,347 images were entered in 2012.  This was
    • 35% larger than last year's entry of c.1000 portraits
    • 64% larger than the 2010 entry of 822.  
    • From this we can conclude that digital entry is stimulating many more artists to enter their work.
Digital entry
  • 474 artists entered 853 digital images 
  • 70% of the digital entry was invited to submit the artwork for the jury review at Stage 2 
    • 89% of those invited to submit their artwork for Stage 2 did so
  • The overall number of artworks via the open entry which were reviewed by the selectors was 1,030
    • 52% came from the online submission
    • 48% came from the ordinary 'hand-in' - so still a lot of people who need to gear up to the switch to all-digital entry in future
  • 37 artists (7.8%) and 41 portraits (4.8%) from the digital entry were selected for the exhibition.  There is a better chance of getting your portraiture selected for the RSPP Annual Exhibition than if submitted to the BP Portrait Prize. 
Open Entry
  • 45% of the artwork in the exhibition came from the OPEN entry
    • 18% of the artwork came from the digital entry
    • 27% came from the 'hand-in' submission
From this I conclude that this is a genuinely OPEN exhibition.  Artists who are not members have a good chance of being exhibited in this exhibition (when compared to those FBA exhibitions where the open element has now dropped down towards 25% of the artwork in the show).

It would be interesting to know the reasons why the 'normal' hand-in generated a higher percentage of the artwork from the open exhibition.

Below you will find a table which analyses the entry.
OPEN ENTRY No. of digital images No. of artists
STAGE 1: Digital Entry 853 474
Invited to submit 599
STAGE 2: Selected: Artwork Submission Artwork submitted by non-members %
Via Online submission 536 52%
Ordinary Submission 494 48%
submitted by non-members
1030 100%
Total No. of Images Entered 1347
SELECTION FOR EXHIBITION No. of artworks No. of artists %
STAGE 3:  Selected for exhibition
Open entry - digital submission 41 37 18%
Open entry - normal submission 61 27%
Members - total no. of works in exhibition 125 37 55%
227 138  100%
PLUS Member's works on miniwall:
Portraits of the Queen


  1. Thank you for a very insightful post, Katherine.
    As it happens, we at the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers are also having a wholly on-line submission for our very first open printmaking exhibition, the RE Open in August, so I was very pleased to see your statistics.
    I notice too that Bite:Artists Making Prints are also having a part digital submission too, by pre-selecting work on-line.
    It's an interesting development - all for the good, I think...

  2. Wow! Amnazing Anaslysis!!!-Nobody does this kind of breakdown anywhere but here-I simply love it!

    1. I'd do it for every exhibition if I could get hold of the numbers!


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