Why Drawing Academy’s Art Competition is democratic
Question from Jean Chang
Dear Drawing Academy Team,
I have been getting your emails for quite some time, and I finally thought I might enter your competition to win the Drawing Academy classes, since to pay the actual cost is impossible for me.
I changed my mind about entering when I saw the manner in which the winners are chosen. It appears that the competition is really a “popularity” contest and not awarded based on unbiased judging by qualified judges.
I’m sure you have plenty of entries and won’t miss mine, but I just thought I would give some feedback on your judging process. I know many of my fellow artists feel the same way.
Thanks for listening
Many thanks for your comment about the Drawing Academy Art Competition.
We are very open and honest by saying upfront that we do not “play favorites” and let public vote for the winners.
This is what democracy really means – letting people decide who should be elected as a president, or a winner in our case.
Any art jury, however professional, would mean only one thing – a closed group of people casting very personal opinions on participants’ entries, thus imposing biased views on artworks and stories.
Can we ask on what basis would you like this competition to be judged, keeping in mind that the prize is Drawing Course memberships?
If the best artists win, they already know how to draw, and the prize would be wasted.
If the worst artists win, then after a couple of cycles it would be a competition for who can submit the worst scribble instead of meaningful drawings.
If judged on the basis of who tells the most compelling story, it would turn into a “my life is worse than yours” competition.
So, if you have any better suggestions, we really would like to hear your proposition.
Also, at our personal discretion, in addition to three winners nominated by the public, we give extra nominations to people whom we think deserve to win the course, however biased they might be:
There are also participants to whom we give the full Academy membership, but we do not publicly announce those nominations.
Such membership giveaways mean more work on our shoulders as we are personally supporting every Academy member, giving artwork critiques, answering art questions, and mentoring our students.
This support for every member (paid or won) is provided for a lifetime, and we give our personal time and money doing so.
Drawing Academy Team
Thank you so much for your very prompt reply to my email.
Your explanation has really opened my eyes to a different viewpoint. When I thought of an “art competition,” I thought of it as choosing who did the best work, using various criteria to decide that, and that is probably a good rationale for most art shows.
However, now that I think about it, you are not looking for the “best artist,” but more for someone who would have the potential to become a best artist someday, and then offering teaching to get them there. I hope I’m interpreting this correctly. On that basis, it makes absolutely perfect sense in how you are choosing the winners. I just had never thought of it in that way before.
I know in my own case, I have sold several paintings, and I’m told my portraits are really good, but unfortunately my process for getting there is very hard! My drawing skills are terrible, and I have to rely on measurement after measurement, taking hours, sometimes days, just to get a line drawing. It is here where I am thinking lessons could help me. It is so discouraging when I see my fellow artists turn out paintings in a matter of hours, but mine can take weeks or months. Here is my website so you can see my results. I also do photography, so just click on “ART” at the top menu, then there are submenus for portraits, etc. www.jeanachang.com
Thanks so much for your very clear explanation. I really appreciate your getting back to me so quickly and showing me your thought process for your lessons.
I’m glad Jean Chang had the courage to post her opinion about the competition and her reasons for feeling as she did, and I’m glad the Drawing Academy team took the time to answer and explain their process for choosing winners. While looking at past entries, the thought entered my head that it would be a waste of my time to submit an entry, as I have only been drawing a couple of years (three, to be exact) and that my art work could not compete with what I was looking at. The explanation that memberships are not necessarily given to either the best, nor the worst, artists made perfect sense to me and it encouraged me to look differently at the competition. I know that I have some talent – how much is a matter of anyone’s opinion. I love to draw, but there is so much I don’t know and, without help, I will never know it and will never be able to develop my abilities fully. However, because I live on a limited budget (I’m 65 and retired), the cost of the Drawing Academy course is beyond my means. Otherwise, I would have signed up long ago. My best option is to submit a pencil drawing and let the chips fall. Perhaps lightning will strike and I’ll win a membership.
So thanks to you both for your posts and for setting out the process for choosing winners. It has encouraged me to submit a drawing and hope for the best.
Here’s my portrait drawing: http://drawingacademy.com/portrait-drawing-by-jeanette-barrett
I entered one contest like that before for an ecologically friendly idea competition and it was based on social media likes.
I would now consider entering due to the fact that you also offer the course to people who you feel personally may be someone you would like to offer the course to.
Thank you, Maya