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I am a co-founder of a newer local art show, Art Within Reach, in South Jersey.  We are in the dubious position of needing to send out rejection letters for the first time.  Our first two events last year and earlier this year, we were able to accommodate all the applicants -- fortunately all of whom were "good ones".  Well, we're getting known and popular now, and we have more applicants than we can fit into the space.  We just reviewed the applications and have selected who we want in our December show.  Now I have a stack of those that didn't make the cut and need to get a letter to them stating our decision.

I'm stuck.  Not bragging, but I have never been rejected on any show/festival application.  Oh, some gallery shows I've gone for with one or a specific few pieces have gotten knocked down, but not any venues doing a larger-scale showing and direct selling of my work.  So I don't have a strong base of rejection materials to draw from.

What are your best or most favorite rejection letters?  Do you have samples of what was a kind "let down" that didn't leave you too bruised?  

Most of the applicants we're not  taking are just that we have no room and/or already overwhelmed with their medium.  One artist is even one who did show at our last event, but just doesn't fit this year.  We want to encourage them all to try again in the future as well as continue to spread the word of our offering through the area art communities.

So, if any on has any "good rejection" kinds of letters to share, I'd really appreciate it.



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Hi Eric,

Here is one of my favorites from a show in northern Michigan. It was so well done and said so nicely all the things that needed to be said:

I'm sending this to everyone who applied this year, so don't take it personally unless you think you might need to.
We did our jury last night and I have a few comments about image quality.   The whole jury process is very competitive and this should probably go without saying, but I'll say it anyway.  IMAGE QUALITY MATTERS!
Some of you have been sending the same images for quite a few years.  If you have new work, we'd like to see it.
A few of you sent images that were the wrong size.  Pay attention.  If you send us things that are too small to be seen, it's not helpful to you.
A few of you just sent bad images.  Getting professional photos of your work done is very expensive, I know.  It may not be necessary, but you do need to make sure that the things you send are of good quality.  You have a lot of competition.
I'm going to talk mostly about the booth slides.  I sent out an email to many of you last year and it was obvious that you listened.  Thank you.  It's not important to me that your booth shots be good, but it's VERY important to you.
If you have new work, we need to see a newer booth shot.
The booth shot represents your whole body of work.  If your booth shot is blurry or messy looking...
We try to do a blind jury, so would prefer that neither your name nor your face appear in the shot.
The jurors see four images.  If they see three amazing pieces and then something different in the booth shot, it WILL affect your scoring.  Perhaps you did three really great things in grad school or three great pieces this year.  We need the booth shot to be representative of the work you will be bringing to this year's show.  If there is a disparity between what we see in the booth and the other images, the jurors can't help but wonder.  Some of you just need to update.
The prize for worst booth shot this year goes to someone named David.   Perhaps you know who you are.
We really want to see you do well - we care.
Good luck to you all - responses should go out next week - D____.


Probably not what you are looking for, but you get the idea. It is personal and obviously from someone who cares about the applicants.

Thanks, Connie.  Our problem is most of the ones who didn't make the cut are out just because of space.  If we had the room, they'd be in.  Some decisions were extremely close and very hard.  (OK, a couple, not so hard.)  We want to be sure we convey it.  I'll write a couple things over the weekend and my show partner an I will jury that work, too, to see what feels best.  I hope I get some more chime-ins to give some ideas on other approaches.

Right, Eric, I got that this wasn't really what you were looking for, but the tone is so nice, something to keep in mind and I believe is appreciated by the shall we say "rejects."

I liked what you said in that last post. If you have plans to expand in the future, say that so people will continue to enter. The worst one I ever got was from a gallery show and they said basically that they didn't like what I sent in, but for $40 I could enter early for next year. Lol, I didn't enter ever again.

You should add this to the Newcomer's section.

are you speaking to me, Dave? what should be added? or did you mean this discussion was in the wrong category?

Sorry Connie, I meant that the letter you posted above should be included for newcomers to read. 

You're right, Dave. It is a good one, full of solid advice couched in a very nice manner. That's why I copied it and saved it.

Eric, also you can basically say what you said in your post here. "Things are changing", "new directions", "a juried event and your work wasn't what this year's jurors were looking for", "appreciate the application and hope you will apply next year as the judges will be different". The last phrase is pretty much standard boilerplate for these letters, but nonetheless it is true. Right? Every show hopes to have next year's be even better than this one and you are interested in seeing their work.

Here's one from a show I used to run:

Our sincere thanks for providing us with the opportunity to review your  work for entry in to _________ _____ We are sorry to say at this time, you were not accepted into the show.


With over 500 applications received for the 140 available exhibitor spots, we were overwhelmed with the quality and the number of the entries we received.  The selections were made by distinguished jurors from a wide variety of backgrounds who viewed each artist’s images simultaneously.  The decisions made were often quite difficult, as the jurors frequently remarked at the overall quality of applications.  Viewing was completely impartial, but the process was daunting, as there were so many excellent entries such as yours.


We appreciate your interest in our show; your name will be kept on our mailing list for three years from your last application.  Notifications for the next ____ ____ will be available online at in January 2011.  If you have any change in your email address please let us know.


Thank you again for applying.  Unless you request otherwise, we will notify you when the applications are open for submission for ___ _______ ____.  We hope you will maintain an interest in our event and that you will be able to participate next year.  We wish you the best of luck in your future artistic endeavors.


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