Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Please Don't Enter Spectrum: A Personal Plea

Gregory Manchess

Seriously, you only make it harder for me to maintain my career.
The deadline has passed for this year’s entries, but consider it for next time. Each year, I take the risk to enter my pieces into the competition, and honestly, if not as many of you entered, it would be much easier for me.
More and more of you appear to be entering, and so many are so good, it gets harder to compete. The quality keeps going up. 
Because the judging is an anonymous process, young artists with fresh visions are able to get in. This makes us established artists grumpy. It means we have to maintain our skills, or even...heaven forbid, get better.
So please, consider these points before thinking about entering Spectrum:
1. My work looks better when there’s not so many other artists around it.

2. I won’t have to send in as many pieces because I’ll stand a better chance and spend less to get in.

3. You make it hard for art directors to choose my work more often.

4. You force me to think up better ideas.

5. You take up many of the ideas available out there.

6. If you get in, you’ll make the book heavier.


  1. You mean I have a full year to learn? Okay the challange is on, thank you for the encouragement Greg:)

  2. You know...I am not convinced you mean this. :u)

  3. Greg, you make me laugh. :-) I think I speak for everyone when I say that you will always have a place in Spectrum, and we new artists would find it an honor to be featured in Spectrum alongside you.

  4. "you'll make the book heavier." LOL

    Curious though, on average about how many pieces do you enter each year Greg?

  5. just use your ninja skills to take out he competition. and skip the IMC alum.

  6. Not to worry Greg. I have friends in the post office. You'd be surprised how many of those entries end up in Overland Park, Australia or Overland Park, Lichtenstein.

  7. I didn't enter. Does this mean we can be friends?

  8. lol this put a smile on my face.

    Hopefully i'll enter next year, yet, your skills will always continue shining, greg!

  9. Greg, your strategery when judging this year should be to overlook the really good work and vote for the crappy work. That way you keep those awesome youngin's out of the competition and maybe I'll stand a chance to get in. ;P

  10. Believe me, if I entered it would only to make eveyone else's work look better!

  11. Greg,

    Arnie might have something to say about this post.

    - Joey

  12. Hmmm, well I'm going to be hard pressed to enter anything at the slow rate I paint, but lets Make a Deal...

    What if you have another painting class at the Norman Rockwell Museum... 'cause I'm trying to learn how to work with oils for the first time and it's all shooting from the hip at the moment so I could use some direction...

    And I will see about not sending any finished work to Spectrum next year...

    Not sure how you make out here, but maybe you won't loose anything either....?. If you don't take the deal Greg, any chance you plan to teach at the Rockwell museum sometime in the future anyway?



  13. Haha! :D

    Oh, don't worry Greg, there's more of us coming. ;)

  14. HA!!! Make the book heavier... HA!!

    Considering you're one of the judges this year, I'd imagine you've seen the room full of tables filled with art and cups? It must be a heavy burden knowing that the simple act of dropping (or not dropping) a bean into a cup changes the future for the artist who's entry you're judging. I'm not sure I could handle that, especially when there are so many entries that are probably outstanding, but just don't make the cut.

    Maybe there should be a "Spectrum Rejected" book. Kind of like the Salon des Refusés in Paris for those artists who didn't make it into the Salon. ;0)

    Good luck Greg!

  15. Thanks for the comments all! (I got eager and posted a day early...duh.)

    Dominick, I try to enter about ten pieces every year. Sometimes I've entered more, and on a few occasions, I've over-done it and entered up to 18! Not a great move, unless they are all as good a piece as you can do. With that many, and I learned the hard way, you compete against yourself. You're just not going to get judges to vote for everything you do. Period.

    Stay frosty, and only pick your very best. At times you can toss in something just "to see", but it's rare that it helps at all.

    Gene, I'll have to do a post on judging. It's a daunting process and takes hard work. I believe that every time I drop a bean, I've made a change to someone's career, maybe good, maybe bad. Either way, it's up to what the artist does with that. Happened to me as well. But I remember wanting judges to respond to my work, so I go into any judging situation with the same attitude. I spend the time to THINK.

    This is the judging process. It's hard work if you care about the field and what you're doing. But I've seen judges think that it's just a day off for them. I've watched them stop thinking, stop caring. It angers me, and I usually speak up at that point.

    I've been very unpopular with other judges who walk into the situation with "an agenda" to "send a message to the art community" about what THEY think the field should be responding to.

    There's always some arguing, but that's healthy for the field at large, I think.

    Best of luck to all who had the guts to enter! It's always hard, folks....always has been.

  16. You forgot to add pricing work at a quarter of that of established pros.

  17. That's great stuff Greg. I found the jurying to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. It was tough on my eyes, brain, and back. But every time I ran across a great piece from someone I hadn't seen before I got more energy. I have to say that the judges I worked with were great. They were committed, serious, and smart. Of course our hosts were task masters and were the most serious and committed of the bunch. They really love Spectrum. They revel in the work of old friends and masters and are thrilled with the work of newcomers.

    All in all when jurying I couldn't help but be thrilled every time I ran across work by artists with whom I'm familiar and by great work from those whose work I'd never seen.

    I'm in complete agreement that going in with an open mind toward finding the best work is the only way to do this. Tempering personal prejudices with knowledge of the field and art in general is the only way to jury such a far reaching book as Spectrum.

    I've thought that a book, of course image heavy, about the history of Spectrum including its jurying would be an interesting thing. Maybe we would hear some great behind the scenes stories. I know Spectrum is still young but it sure has had an impact on the community.

  18. I suppose I should clarify. The judging process I spoke about is in regards to ALL of the juried shows that I've experienced. CA, Society Annual, StepxStep, etc.

    The Spectrum judging experience was very good. Besides the method used by Arnie and Cathy, perhaps it's the genre itself. Most of the judges are skilled painters or skilled designers and they come into it with more of an open mind than I've seen in other juries.

    Some of the juries I've expected to embrace everything from detailed paint to flat design to cartoon, etc., have not been able to be open to it. I find this remarkable.

    They have been incredibly narrow in their judging and many want to send idiotic 'messages' , as if picking what they like is going to change the face of the business somehow.


    Although, that poor book will need a diet :'c

  20. This post had me on the floor laughing so hard! XD haha thanks for the encouraging words and advice Gregory

  21. That was so funny I had to read it aloud to my wife.
    Greg Manchess does Dave Barry. Who knew he was funny as well as talented?!
    Hey, Greg if the painting thing doesn't work out for ya, you might consider stand up.

  22. Haha, this is funny :)
    I thought for a second you were actually going to say something bad about it. I've been dreaming of entering Spectrum for a few years now, since I bought Spectrum 13. Unfortunately Spectrum failed me last year when I saw someone get in who had TRACED OVER another WELL KNOWN artist's work! Ugh. And, to top it off, it was my favourite picture of all time that got ripped off ;_; And now it is forever immortalized in this "prestigious" book. Makes me think twice about how "hard" I have to try to get in. Clearly I just need to trace! Duh! ;)

    Regardless, I still dream of getting in, and filling a space on a page with a picture that DESERVES to be there for being ORIGINAL. So, the more people like me who enter the more we can push out the cheaters! <3

  23. Thank you so much for posting something this light hearted about Spectrum, competition and just having your work in front of a panel of judges.

    I wish you'd written it before hand though, it may have been the encouragement I needed to stop staring at my entries and actually put them in the mail... I totally chickened out this year.

    Next year though. I have 10.5 months to make up for it... and 18 months to put pennies in a jar for the 2012 Illustration master class, so I hope you intend to do that again next year.


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