I was talking with Heidi Volpe (former AD at LA Times Magazine) about some of the things she’s working on in the right now (we have projects we’re working on together so we talk a lot) and I asked if she would write about them from time to time to give people a different perspective on the industry. Here’s her first entry:
For the past four years I’ve been invited to attend speed dating reviews at Art Center of Design in LA which is basically a panel of professionals who look at student work (really fast) and this year I was also invited to look over the work of graduating 7th term photography students (it’s an 8 term program that take 2 years and 8 months to complete if you go nonstop.) This was a two-on-one for the students Dennis Keeley the Photo Chair and I. He ran the show and he gave some insightful feedback, it was amazing to hear him talk about the work. I managed to cough once and awhile *kidding.*
This is an opportunity for the students to get some industry feedback and forces them to articulate their work to a potential client and prepare them for the big bad world out there.
Most recently I was invited by Everard Williams, Associate Photo Chair at Art Center to help curate the work that goes into their student gallery. I spent the day with Everard, and Alexandra Tumbas, my former intern at the Times (also a terrific photographer and photo editor), who’s now the Assistant Photo Editor, at C Magazine. We looked at a lot of strong work for the upcoming show.
The work was strong but there’s an aspect to entering a contest or review that seems to be overlooked and this is the actual submission process so i thought I’d share with you a few tips on how to make a submission.
Typically very specific guidelines are given for any submission. This is a time consuming effort for the reviewers, so the selection process needs to be as efficient as possible.
Rule #1: Read the guidelines
Rule #2: Read the guidelines
I was really surprised how much digital work did not follow the specs, when files were submitted as psd, at 85 megs, they took forever to open. When you are looking about 200+ images you can image how long 45 seconds feels.
While I was working at the Los Angeles Times Magazine we submitted a lot of our work to The Society of Publication Designers and the Society of News Design. SPD is organization that focuses primarily on the visual communication of print and online editorial professionals. SND is the same structure but focused on international Newspapers.
We spent an incredible amount of time getting our entries together. There was a team of people selected to oversee the assembly of the submissions, one person keyed in all the entries into an excel document, freelancers were hired to help and staff stayed as late as 1:00 am and worked weekends to make the deadlines and submit properly. At the end of the contest as a paper we had over 300 entries.
If an entry was not correctly filled out, it did not get considered. End of story. The kick in the pants here is not only did you lose your entry fee, you don’t even get a shot at losing.
Rule #3: Care about your presentation
I was really impressed with students that took the time to pull together a nice edit of matted images. Some submitted a loose box of images all different sizes and it make it a little harder to judge. When they had such a range of work, it made it more difficult to look at as a body because the viewing process was shattered by the varying sizes. It’s easier to compare things uniformly.
Include your best work always, and edit it.
Don’t overwhelm the judges, having a too large of a submission can hurt you more then help you.
Don’t include personal notes or attacks on the judging process. One girl had a hand written note in her submission on a piece of graph paper
FACT: I am graduating this term
FACT: I have submitted for gallery 9 times and never been selected
Um, that would go over really well when you are asking for a grant or a show.
Label your work with your name. I know simple but one CD had no information on it. Memorex CD-R doesn’t cut it.
The Student Gallery opens Dec 12. Art Center has a calendar and all their lectures are open to the public. www.artcenter.edu
UPDATE: Some images from the review (here).