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How Illustration Competitions are Judged

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

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[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our ebook Inside Illustration Competitions, which is available for FREE here.]

The outcome of an Illustration competition is largely dependent on the judges who view the work and decide which artists deserve to be recognized. Ever wonder how this jury is chosen and how they make these tough decisions?

Since so much depends on the subjective personal tastes of an Illustration competition jury, it’s important to pay attention to the list of jurors any time you’re considering submitting your work, and familiarizing yourself with who’s involved.

With the help of many organizers and judges of all the major Illustration competitions, I was able to get an inside look at what drives the method of assembling the jury.

Jury Selection

It is in the best interest of all parties involved to have a professional, experienced, and esteemed panel of judges to view the artwork and select the best of the best to be featured in the organization’s annuals, shows, and online galleries. In this way, the various competitions maintain their relevance in the industry, encourage a comprehensive collection of high-quality Illustration, and offer Illustrators the opportunity to have their work viewed by the top tier of their target audience.

In most instances, the jury is comprised of some combination of Illustrators, Graphic Designers, Art Directors, Artist Representatives, Educators, and other creative professionals who have made an impact on the Illustration industry. Potential jury candidates are often recommended by Illustrators or past Chairs based on quality of work, talent, years of experience, and standing in the field. In addition, judges are often assigned to vote in categories that are a good match for their particular area of expertise, whether it be publishing, editorial, advertising, children’s books, etc.

One interesting variation on this theme is the competitions run by American Illustration, which limits the selection to only Art Directors and others who are able to actually hire Illustrators.

Another alternative is practiced by 3×3. Because of it’s uniquely international focus, 3×3 makes sure that all judges represent different countries and tries to have one or more Art Directors and Illustrators from each of the primary illustration markets around the world.

Judging Criteria

One of the most intriguing aspects of the judging process is the criterion by which jurors are instructed to select work, or rather, the lack thereof.

Sometimes, the organization running the competition has an introductory meeting to outline the overall purpose and criteria of the selection. However, rather than instruct the jury with specific guidelines, most competitions rely on the experience and aesthetic sensibilities of the jurors involved.

Therefore, each judge votes along the lines of their individual tastes, with a focus on the effectiveness of the image, its ability to solve a visual problem or communicate an idea, its professional execution, and any other strengths they typically look for in a successful Illustration. Jurors are encouraged to take their time and go with their instincts while seeking out Illustration that reaches a higher level of excellence.

“We do not believe in quotas, we ask judges to select the very best pieces in each category.”

– Charles Hively, 3×3

“Jurors are encouraged to make brave choices and [select] images that represent the finest work from the year. Our goal is to recognize work not typically honored by other organizations and publications.”

Mark Heflin, American Illustration

Judges are asked to use their own judgment as to what constitutes creative excellence.”

– Patrick Coyne, Communication Arts

As stated above, due to this personal approach it can be very beneficial for an artist to familiarize themselves with the list of jurors involved, because it can potentially offer some level of insight when choosing which of their pieces to submit.

Voting Method

As expected, the actual steps involved in the scoring process is another area in which each competition is different. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of saying whether each Illustration should be “in” or “out”. Other times the judges are asked to rank each image on a scale of one to ten or some variation thereof.

Here are a few examples of the various voting methods employed:

“Jurors meet as a group and view all images. They first nominate images they like. From there, the nominated images are viewed and voted on individually by secret vote. It only takes one juror to nominate an image in the first round. It takes a majority or better in the second round to get into the book (usually 4-7 votes). All images that were nominated and then received at least 2 votes are presented on the website only.”

– Mark Heflin, American Illustration

“The first round, each Judge adds a dot to the entry. Second round, the judge’s team up to view entries that received the highest votes. Finally, the judges come together as a total group to discuss the final selection.”

– Scott Hull, Artist Representative & Juror

“The Art Directors Club does 3 rounds of judging. Each round is assigned through a point value system with the last round being a medal round.”

– Luke Stoffel, Art Directors Club

“In the professional and children’s show, each judge votes each entry in or out. In the student show, each entry is given a grade 0-4, 4 being the top grade. It takes a majority of votes by the judges to have a piece accepted into the show.

– Charles Hively, 3×3

Get your FREE copy of Inside Illustration Competitions here >>

Posted by Thomas James on 08/17/15 under business,call for entries
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Call for Submissions: Illustrate a Wall Clock

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

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Hello fellow artists!

We know you love a good art challenge.

The folks at Doodlers Anonymous have teamed up with Blik to present this unique opportunity to artists. The challenge is to doodle, draw, or illustrate the backdrop of a wall clock!

Six winning submissions will have their art transformed into 10” wall clocks to be sold through Blik and Doodlers Anonymous. Plus, a portion of the royalties will go to the lucky artists!

Find out more about this fun challenge and how to enter here >>

Posted by Thomas James on 08/13/15 under artists,call for entries,Events,illustration,news,Stuff
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Idea Generation Word List for POINTY

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

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Hello fellow illustrators!

 

As promised last Friday, we are now in full effect taking Illustration Friday to the next level. The natural evolution of a fun weekly illustration challenge based on ideas is a deeper focus on the art of idea generation itself.

We’re starting small, with a stream of consciousness word list that one might create while brainstorming for this week’s topic of POINTY or any other of our weekly topics. I encourage you to make your own first, perhaps compare it to this list or even email yours to us if you’d like us to consider sharing it in a future blog post.

You will notice that in my own personal word process below I try to let my mind freely linger in one area for a while until some other interesting pathway offers itself up, or not. Sometimes you’ll need to give it a gentle nudge, or step away for a minute. The randomness itself is where the magic can sometimes happen. This process is pretty much guaranteed to take your mind to surprising places. This list took only a few minutes to create, but it could go on and on with further exploration.

As things progress, we’ll be adding a LOT more features to share a variety of approaches to generating good ideas, as described in last week’s 5-minute video, so stay tuned…

SAMPLE WORD LIST

 

TOPIC: POINTY

 

 

pointy
angle
triangle
mountain
range
mountaintop
skyline
pointy hat
dunce cap
witch’s hat
pointing finger
pointing out
pointing at you/me/…
what’s the point
pointless
round
obtuse
sharp
sharp (smart)
pokey
knife
kitchen knife
cut
stab
poke
sword
lance
joust
medieval weapons
mace
vampire teeth
wolf teeth
shark teek/fin
surfboard
fingernails
starfish
star
crescent moon
thumbtack
nail
hammer and nail
staple
staple gun
railroad stake
king/queen crown, etc.

 Want even more inspiration? Check out the entries that have been submitted so far for this week’s topic.

Have fun!

Posted by Thomas James on 08/10/15 under call for entries,classes,idea generation,IF community
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The Disney Animation Recruitment Website

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

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If you’ve ever wanted to work for Disney, well head on over to this “official website for Disney Television Animation talent and recruitment”. You can use it to view and even apply for a variety of artistic and production-related projects.

Visit the Disney Recruitment site here >>

Posted by Thomas James on 07/06/15 under business,call for entries,children's art,news,resources
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The Tuaca Cocktail Napkin Art Contest Returns!

Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Latest posts by Thomas James (see all)

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.22.42 AM

It’s no secret that cocktail napkins have long served as the unofficial medium for spontaneous brilliance. From award winning films to Fortune 500 companies, some of the world’s boldest ideas unfolded on a bar napkin. To help celebrate this phenomenon, Tuaca Liqueur is inviting artists of all backgrounds to share what ignites their creativity, on what is arguably the perfect canvas for serendipitous inspiration.

The idea is simple: Draw, doodle or illustrate whatever it is that inspires you on a cocktail napkin. Then, snap a photo of your creation and upload it to our virtual gallery at Tuacaart.com.
One grand prize winner will be awarded $5,000! Qualified entrants must be 21 years of age or over, reside in the United States and submit their artwork by May 15th, 2015.

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For complete details and rules or to just check out the gallery, click here.

Happy Doodling!

Posted by Thomas James on 03/13/15 under call for entries
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