Thursday, November 16, 2023

How to apply to become an associate member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers

For all those printmakers who think they might be ready to move up a stage - and want to add RE after their names.

This post covers

  • a very brief history of the Society
  • how to apply to become an associate member (ARE) of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers - which is the first step on the pathway to becoming a full member (RE).
  • what happens if you are elected an Associate Member 

A brief history of The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers

The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers is a very old art society.
  • formed in 1880 - as a reaction to the Royal Academy of Arts' reluctance to exhibit etchings and engravings (ironic considering the contemporary popularity of printmaking at the RA Summer Exhibition!)
  • 1888: received its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria and became and became the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers
  • 1911: full members began using RE after their names
  • 1991 changed its name - having formerly been known as the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers - hence the RE acronym.
  • It is the foremost society for all printmakers
  • Printmaking methods included within the scope of the society:
    • 1897: Engraving
    • 1920: wood engraving
    • 1987: lithography
    • 1990: all forms of creative and forward-thinking original printmaking
  • eminent past members have included Graham Sutherland, Stanley William Hayter, Edward Bawden, Julian Trevelyan and Michael Rothenstein.
Since its inception, every member has had one piece of work selected, providing a snapshot of the artist's portfolio at the moment of his or her election.
If elected as a full member, your name and the title of your chosen ‘RE Diploma Print’ are entered in a Roll-Book whose entries arch back to 1880.

The Society shares its home at Bankside Gallery, in London, with the Royal Watercolour Society in an association that has lasted more than a hundred years.  Each year there are various opportunities to exhibit:
  • RE Members are invited to submit two works for inclusion in the Society’s major annual exhibition at Bankside Gallery 
  • there are a number of opportunities to show in joint exhibitions at Bankside Gallery and elsewhere.
Demonstrations and lectures are held as part of the education programme accompanying exhibitions, fulfilling the Society’s status as an educational charity. The RE is run by its Members, all of whom are expected to take an active role in furthering the interests of the Society.

Applications for the Election of Associate Members in 2024

The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) was formed in 1880 to seek recognition for and to promote the value of printmaking as an art in its own right. Membership is open to artist-printmakers of the highest order. To this day it continues to promote original printmaking in all its forms, widen the knowledge and understanding of printmaking as a process, whilst also providing its members with artistic opportunities.

This is the Applications Page on the RE website

This is the ONLINE FORM you need to submit to apply for election as an Associate Member

You can Download the 2024 application guidelines (PDF). Links to online guidance pages are included below 

Timeline for applications and selection:

  • Deadline for receipt of applications: Monday 27 November 2023 12 noon
  • Notification of Shortlisted Artists: Friday 22 December 2023
  • Deadline for submission of actual prints by shortlisted artists: Saturday 3 February 2024, 11am - 6pm (see Information for Shortlisted Candidates - which also outlines the provisions for all Overseas Artists)
  • Collection of prints: (see details about collection)
    • Sunday 4 February, 4 - 6pm & 
    • Monday 5 February 11am – 1pm 
  • Results are sent by email by end of Monday 5 February.
TIP Read the Terms of Election and Guidance very carefully and always aim to create a good first impression. THINK CAREFULLY about 
  • whether you are ready to apply this year 
  • or whether it might be better to spend the next year gathering together all you need for a good quality application which reflects your suitability for election in 2025.

Who is eligible to apply

Artists who work in any printmaking media, including digital printmaking, are invited to apply for membership. Successful candidates invariably are those who are outstanding in all aspects of their work as practising professional artist-printmakers.

All members’ work MUST be 
  • in a single strictly limited edition, 
  • or unique monoprints. 
  • Reproduction prints are not accepted
Who is NOT eligible for membership
  • artists who produce reproduction prints of their original prints
There is no limit on the number of printmakers who can apply nor on the number who are elected

It is not uncommon for those who don't succeed at their first application do go on to become members in the future. That's because the standard for entry is high - and the better the work you submit the better the chance you've got of being elected.

Selection criteria

There are two key criteria governing selection
  • A high degree of individuality, accomplishment and commitment in the art of printmaking.
  • Agreement to participate on a regular basis in exhibitions and assist with the Society's work.
No credible national art society wants members who are only in it for the letters after their name. You maintain your standing by your contribution.

The Election Process

This is about the Election Process

Election is by majority vote in a secret ballot of the RE Council. The Council considers the shortlist of candidates selected from the application process and digital images of prints submitted.

Polling takes place following a careful consideration of 
  • each applicant’s prints, 
  • supporting material and 
  • artist statement 

How to Apply

Complete all relevant sections the Online Form
  • only fields on the application form will be viewed and reviewed
  • any additional information or CVs are NOT considered
Sections include:
  • personal details
  • art education
  • membership of other art societies
  • teaching experience
  • group exhibitions 
  • solo exhibitions
  • commissions
  • prizes/awards
  • public collections
  • additional information (max 150 words)
  • artist statement (max 300 words)
In addition you need to submit:
  • eight images of unframed and unmounted prints 
  • six images of aspects of your practice as an artist other than finished prints. (eg. Drawings or other preliminary work)
  • Details of each work submitted 
    • title and year made, 
    • medium, 
    • dimensions (paper size), and 
    • edition size of prints.
  • If shortlisted you will be invited to send in the physical work. 
  • All work submitted must have been made by the applicant within the past three years. 
  • Images should be in JPEG format, size max 1-2MB each.
PLUS pay an application fee of £50 to complete your online application.

What happens if you become an Associate Member


Being a member of ANY national art society of NOT cheap. I applaud the RE for being explicit about membership fees so they do NOT come as a nasty surprise!

If the fees are an issue I'd recommend you do not apply.

You need to pay the following:
  • An Entrance Fee of £50 
  • a half-subscription of £110 will be payable to complete membership
  • the full rate of £220 in advance on 1st January in the second and subsequent years.
  • (Note: the subscription fees are index-linked to the rate of inflation)

What you get for your associate membership

As an Associate RE member you will then
  • Receive your Diploma at a certificate presentation event at Bankside Gallery
  • be entitled to use 'ARE' after your name
  • be invited to exhibit regularly at Bankside Gallery with the RE
  • have an artist's profile on both Bankside Gallery and RE websites of work exhibited at Bankside
  • be invited to have unframed work in the browsers in the gallery on display year-round
  • be invited to submit periodically to Bankside Gallery's Online Store
  • receive opportunities from the RE such as artist residencies, art fairs, involvement in educational activities.
I wish good luck to all those who apply.  

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