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Tips for a Standout Open Call Submission in Wildlife, Animal, and Pet Art Shows

If you’re ready to showcase your creativity in the realm of wildlife, animal, and pet art, this post is for you. Open calls for art shows are fantastic opportunities to get your work noticed and appreciated. 

To help you prepare a standout submission, we’ve compiled a set of valuable tips that will set your artwork apart from the rest.

Giraffe Painting by Anna Ganina
Best in Show for MOOD, by Anna Ganina

1. Understand the Theme and Guidelines

Before diving into your creative process, carefully read and understand the theme of the call for art. Whether it’s wildlife, animal, or pet art, aligning your submission with the specified theme ensures that your work resonates with the exhibition’s vision.

For instance, at Wild Heart Gallery (WHG), our themes vary widely. Sometimes the theme is as straightforward as, Pet Portraits, and other times the theme is more open to interpretation like our show, Mood, Animals with Attitude. Theme is one of the metrics we use to score art entries at WHG, so it is in your best interest as an artist to match the theme.

2. Comply with all the Guidelines and Rules for Submission

Make sure to read all the guidelines and rules for submission. The requirements for different art calls vary. WHG doesn’t change ours often, but it’s always worth reading carefully. 

One of the rules that gets missed sometimes in many art calls across the art world is that if an entry has already been shown in one exhibition, it is not eligible to be in another exhibition put on by that same gallery/organization. Galleries want to keep each art show fresh and full of new art for our audience. We recommend keeping a list or spreadsheet of which art pieces an artist enters into what shows (more of this in a later blog post).

Bull by Kerri Warner
by Kerri Warner

3. Showcase Your Unique Style

Your artistic voice is what makes your work stand out. Don’t be afraid to express your unique style and perspective. Whether it’s through brushstrokes, materials, color palettes, or subject matter, let your personality shine in every detail of your artwork.

Originality is another metric that WHG uses to score art entries. Using your personal voice in your sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography, etc., is encouraged.

4. Tell a Compelling Story

Art has the power to tell stories. Consider incorporating a narrative or message in your submission, depending on the theme of the call for art, of course. 

If there is a space for a description, please use it to your advantage! Share the inspiration behind your piece or the story you aim to convey.

At WHG, our jurors have access to the art descriptions for each piece entered. There have been times when a description helped add a point or two to the overall score.

WHG may also use the descriptions provided when making posts/doing publicity for award winning art because a compelling story can captivate the audience by give your artwork even more depth and meaning.

Horse drawing by by Dulce Patricia Alonzo Diaz
by Dulce Patricia Alonzo Diaz

5. Technical Excellence Matters

While creativity is key, technical excellence is equally crucial. Pay attention to details, ensure your composition is on point, and demonstrate skill in your chosen medium. A polished and well-executed artwork will leave a lasting impression on the jurors.

Another of WHG’s judging metrics is Skill/Technique. Show us your mastery of your medium!

6. Capture Emotion and Connection

Wildlife, animal, and pet art often evoke strong emotions. Aim to capture the essence and emotion of your subject. Whether it’s the untamed beauty of wildlife, the soulful eyes of an animal, or the playful nature of pets, infuse your artwork with emotion and connection. Building in connection with your audience helps strengthen the bond between them and your artwork.

7. Quality Photography is Key

When submitting artwork digitally/over the internet, the quality of your images is incredibly important.

Ensure your images are 

  • High-resolution

  • Well-lit

  • Glare-free

  • Accurately represent the colors and details of your artwork

  • In focus/not blurry

  • Cropped so that only the art shows

Assemblage sculpture by Kathryn Wills
by Kathryn Wills

For 2D artwork, do not include the frame, mat, or wall. If the artwork is not rectangular (maybe it’s oval or irregularly shaped), make the background behind/around the artwork either white or black. 

For photography and digital art, please make sure the JPG file submitted is high enough resolution. They do not need to be additionally photographed.

For 3D artwork, like sculpture, provide multiple angles if possible to give a comprehensive view. Please photograph the sculpture in front of a solid-colored background (white or black, please).

Keep in mind that the only experience of your art available to the jurors (and, for virtual shows, the audience) is the digital image (JPG, PNG) that is submitted. The quality of the submitted image is very important and is part of our Quality of Work metric.

8. Research Previous Exhibitions

Take the time to explore previous exhibitions hosted by the art show organizers. Understand the style and diversity of artworks they’ve featured. Tailor your submission to align with the gallery’s aesthetic while still maintaining your artistic identity.

Here’s a hint for our shows: WHG focuses on the animal art of today. We tend to put together eclectic shows that feature different styles, genres, and mediums. We love showing traditional wildlife art next to experimental mixed media pieces or abstract paintings, for instance. We love all forms of animal art and exist to celebrate it all. Remember, though, that Originality is one of our scoring metrics.

9. Submit a Cohesive/Consistent Body of Work

If the open call allows multiple submissions, consider creating a cohesive series or body of work. This can strengthen the impact of your submission and showcase your versatility as an artist.

For WHG shows, the judges see each artist’s work in a set. So if you enter 4 images, the judges see them together. Whether or not the pieces an artist enters look like a cohesive body of work is less important for our shows than making sure that each submission is of the same skill/technical level. For WHG shows, it is in the best interest of the artist to submit 1 or 2 very strong pieces only rather than 4 pieces where 1 or more of them is not as good as the others. 

Always submit your best work. 

We hope to see your artwork in our Art Calls soon!

Remember that the open call is an opportunity to share your passion with a wider audience. Be true to your artistic vision, pay attention to details, and let your creativity show! 


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Apr 24


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