Monday, July 16, 2012

Deadline Extended: "Sick and Tired"

In 2007 or 2008, I became a teacher. I had accumulated enough experience through graduate school for them to trust me with a class of my own. I don't remember if I did a decent job or not with that Beginning Photography class, but I do know one thing about teaching that class:

If I set a deadline for students to meet with particular assignments, I stuck to it.

I had been through undergrad and had experienced professors who would extend deadlines for assignments all of the time. In the world of college, I was always under the impression that I was being prepped for "the real world," a world with deadlines, stress, and consequences. When a teacher took liberties with changing the deadlines for assignments (sometimes on the days when assignments were due), it left the students who had completed things on time with a strange taste in their mouth. There was a collective air of "dude, what gives?" in the classroom.

Because of that, I work through complications with students and never change deadlines the day assignments are due.

I bring all of this up because the same thing is happening in "the real world" now. If I were an accountant or lawyer, this would probably be different. But in the world of art and art exhibitions, it seems that extended deadlines are now par for the course.

The most recent deadline change I've experienced is that for Critical Mass 2012. Photolucida's annual juried competition is one of the biggest networking opportunities for exhibiting photographers.

And this year, I feel like I finally have the chops—and the courage—to enter. The past week was a flurry of Photoshop and scanning, of the spot healing brush and image resizing. I finished up my portfolio of ten images (now visible for the first time on my website. Don't be fooled; these are new versions of familiar photographs) and submitted. The deadline for the competition was noon today.

Twenty minutes after I submitted my work, I saw on Facebook that the deadline for Critical Mass had been extended.

It got me thinking. After a quick search of my photo email inbox, I found that since December of last year, I still had emails about extended deadlines from fourteen different competitions. Many of them are repeats from the same organizations. There are probably many others that I never hear about because I am not on particular mailing lists. The exhibitions and competitions with extended deadlines are listed at the end of this blog.

An extended deadline for an exhibition tells me two things:

1. "We haven't received enough entries for this exhibition, so please tell your friends to submit."
2. "Your work was received prior to the original deadline, and it's not good enough to be shown in our gallery."

While #2 is a big stretch in both logic and imagination, and is obviously not true, item #1 is almost a logistical slam dunk 100% of the time. Most arts organizations struggle to make ends meet, and they charge entry fees in order to recoup their costs. (Critical Mass actually has a section on their FAQ page that outlines where the entry fees go towards their overhead and other expenses.)

Submitting work to shows and being rejected shouldn't be taken personally. I'm getting more and more used to it every week. (A rejection letter came to my house today, actually.) Deadline extensions, however, feel like more of a slap in the face because it makes you call the work you put into submitting work on time into question. When you're given more time, you second guess yourself. At least I do.

It doesn't matter to me if a deadline to a show is extended and I'm rejected from the show. It's happened before. Or even if I get in. That's happened to me too, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that, like the professor who changes deadlines in the middle of a semester, making people work on something for a specific date only to extend it at the last minute is an insult to artists everywhere.

Pick a date and stick to it. If it doesn't work out this time, then set your new (extended) deadline accordingly when the call for entries goes up next year.

And to the artists who aren't submitting their work to these shows on time: get a move on. Or get a planner or something. This isn't undergrad.


Onward Compe 2012 - December 2011
Midwest Center for Photography Juried Exhibition - December 2011
SPE Member Show at RayKo Gallery - December 2011
LACDA International Juried Competition - March 2012
Manifest Gallery INPHA 1 - April 2012
PDN Great Outdoors Contest - April 2012
Midwest Center for Photography "Grow" exhibition - April 2012
PDN Faces Contest - May 2012
Midwest Center for Photography "Vacate" exhibition - June 2012
Midwest Center for Photography "Midwest Photo Emerge" - June 2012
LACDA Juried Competition - June 2012
PDN "The Look" competition - June 2012
Manifest Gallery Recent Paintings - July 2012
Critical Mass 2012 - July 2012