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background for slides, juries, ....longish....

updated thu 7 jan 99


Jonathan Kaplan on wed 6 jan 99

Having been on a few outstanding juries, including ACC, here are some

There is a move, I think it was started by NAIA to standardize the slide
format, such as name, description, which side up, etc etc. which I think is
a really fine idea. (and not really to the point of the

Juries look at a huge amount of slides. In fact, at ACC we looked through
the entire group of ceramics applications twice. Once to familiarize
ourselves with the work, and the second, to vote.

What matters is the piece. Five slides, in this case, are projected at once
and there is a sixth that is an identification number that corresponds to
the same number on the ballots. Each piece matters, and the effectiveness
of the entire presentation, showing a body of work, the entire presentation

We looked at slides shot outside, against burlap, against wall papaer,
against the kitchen sink on the kitchen table, the list is quite endless
and also quite interesting. The majority of the slides were shot on a
neutral to grey background which faded out at the top. These presentations
were the most effective bith from an individual piece point of view as well
as entire presentation point of view. Those pieces that were shot on a
stark white background did not seem to have the floating quality to them,
the shadows were quite harsh, but that could have been the photographers
issue.... Those on a white background seemed cold, while those on the
neutral or grey one were warmer.

For my two cents after a full day of looking, and I mean looking, at tons
of slides, my eyes and my body were toast, well burnt at that, I think the
grey/neutral backgrounds are more effective.

However, remember that there are huge numbers of applicants for every show.
If the show only has so many openings for potters, and there are hundreds
of potters competing for those cherished spaces, the odds of getting in are
small, no matter the quality of the work. But what matters is that you
present your best work in as professional a way as possible. Your living
depends on it. And for me, that means working with a professional
photographer who works primarily with product photography. It costs, but it
returns to you if you do it right.

Juries are hard to pin down as to what they are looking for. Good work? A
balanced show?
More functional work? More decorative work? More affordable work? High end
work? This list is also endless. Its important not, and I repeat, not, take
a rejection personally and not take it as meaning the work is bad. (well it
could be, but I'm speaking in general terms here). The real bottom line is
that we are in a very competative field. There is lots of really good work
out there and there are, true, a good group of very productive fairs and
shows, but the number of applications is stagering for those shows.

The pie has stayed the same, only the segments of that pie have increased.
Count your blessings for what shows you do get into, and keep trying for
those shows you don't. Whether you are in or out doesn't validate or
invalidate your worth as a potter, artist, or human being. All it means is
that your work was not what that specific jury was looking for.

Any how, thats my approach. It works for me.


Jonathan Kaplan, president
Ceramic Design Group LTd/Production Services
PO Box 775112
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
(970) 879-9139 voice and fax