The Warrior Artist Podcast, Episode 6 Show Notes – open calls and rejection

There are two sides to being an artist:

  • You want to spend as much time as you can creating work, investing in your learning and development and getting as good as you can.
  • You also need to put your work out into the world, if you want it to be seen, to be discovered.  Open calls are an important way of doing this.

Why enter open calls?

  • Open calls are a level playing field.
  • I view them as an opportunity and I’m grateful they’re there.
  • Builds CV


Where do you find open calls?

  • Google art open calls,
  • website resources online,
  • Instagram,
  • follow local galleries on Instagram and join their mailing lists.
  • In Ireland, Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) list open calls.

My approach

  • You can’t get a yes without risking a no.
  • Each no is getting you closer to your next yes.
  • By entering open calls you’re part of the art game. You’re taking a chance, you’re being brave, you’re a warrior.
  • Even with rejection, your work has been evaluated and seen by a curator/jurist
  • Rejection does not necessarily mean that your work is not good.
  • There are always more submissions than space to exhibit. Odds of success are always low. Maybe your work is too large, or does not suit the theme, or does not work with the other pieces selected.
  • Each rejection is a badge of your courage and bravery.


  • It’s very easy to miss a deadline. There are a lot of open calls
  • I add them to a spreadsheet by date of submission. I check this spreadsheet about once a week to see the dates of upcoming submissions.
  • Evaluate open call based on quality of opportunity, time involved, cost, geographical location
  • Local opportunities are generally worth entering. If you’re successful it’s easier to send work and attend the exhibition opening.
  • I colour-code submissions: open call entered – amber, yes – green, no – red.
  • Tracking helps me depersonalise the process and monitor over time
  • I make a note of the paintings I’ve submitted (to reserve them until notification)
  • Paintings successful in one open call may often be successful in others

Getting a yes

  • All the sweeter after all the rejection
  • Gives a huge boost to confidence
  • Try to attend exhibition opening (another opportunity)
  • Builds CV

Have you any interesting open call stories?

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