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Santa Maria Arts Council

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Visual Arts auditions and location have changed!


When you submit your online application, you will also upload a headshot of yourself, plus up to 12 digital images of the actual work you will share with the judges at your audition appointment. You must be available to participate on the day of auditions. Your 20-minute appointment will be scheduled from 9:30am to 2:00pm. Note any time conflicts in your application.

Plan on about an hour: 20 minutes to set work on tables or against a wall, 10 minutes to meet with the judges to discuss your work, and 15 minutes to remove your work.

Selecting your Work
Plan to show up to 12 pieces you created in the last 2-3 semesters (12-15 months)

If relevant for evaluating your work, consider including working sketches or an explanation of the processes involved. This applies to all large projects in all media, and can be useful background material for murals, sculpture, unusual glazes or ceramic techniques, animation, digital illustration, etc.


• 5-7 works should show your strongest medium or techniques
• 3-4 works should display breadth in your knowledge of varied techniques, processes and media
• Any support materials such as sketchbooks or small portfolios of working photos count as one piece. You may flag up to 6 selected items per book to show the judges.
• If your work is generally large, such as murals or oversized paintings, you may show those images in a portfolio, on your own laptop, or in a short YouTube video.
• Label the work you present to judges. Include title, medium, when created, and information regarding the project or assignment.


• 5-7 pieces demonstrating your strongest medium or techniques
• 3-4 pieces demonstrating varied techniques, processes, and media
• Any support materials such as sketchbooks or small portfolios of working photos count as one piece. These may demonstrate design concepts, processes, and idea development. You may flag up to 6 selected items per book to show the judges.

• The judges will review your work on YouTube. Include a link so they can access your work, edited to no more than 6 minutes. Separate short clips should be titled so the judges understand the project/idea/assignment you are presenting.
• Support materials such as storyboards, a collection of character sketches, and/or photos that convey processes or production can demonstrate your use of design concepts, processes, and idea development. You may flag up to 6 selected items per sketchbook or small portfolio to share with the judges. Include credits.

Labels and Digital Images

Digital File:
Your name must appear in the file name of every image you present in this fashion:
Last name, first initial. Example: SmithJ.01, SmithJ.02, SmithJ.12.
• Labels for work shown at the audition meeting should include your name, the title of the piece or assignment, medium used, and any credit information.
• List credits if the work of others is involved in your finished pieces. Examples include digital illustrations which utilize images not created or photographed by you; copies or work based on that of someone else; film or animation group projects where you were part of the production team, etc.

Digital Images
These images give the judges a chance to see your work before the audition.

1. Set up a clean space. A black or dark background helps in squaring the shots.
2. Use a high quality setting on your camera or cell phone.
3. Compose images so artwork is squared up and fills the viewfinder. Don’t include frames if you are shooting paintings; just the work, please.
4. Image files: JPG format, 200dpi. Size so the largest side equals 6 inches at its highest or widest.
5. Label files with your last name and first initial plus the number of the shot.
Example: Smith_J_01, Smith_J_02

Examples of past works entered.

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Advice to Arts Council Grant Applicants
by Leslie Parsons
As a career Art Director and longtime judge of artworks, including fine arts, graphics and woodturnings, I have noticed there are common points of presentation that should be taken into account by all artists.

Therefore, as you prepare your application materials, I offer you a simple piece of advice:


What does this mean? Let’s break it down:

‘Showcase’ means to display something to its very best advantage. This includes every element of your entry, every aspect of your presentation, not just the artwork itself. It means mats, frames, the display background, table, pedestal, sketchbooks, etc., as well as any accompanying written material. Even if it’s just a little sign with your name on it, it should be the best possible little sign you can produce. Be mindful of the size, the design, the font choice, the background color, etc. It all counts.

Two artists could present two very similar sketches, with similar techniques and subject matter; the winner will be the one that is professionally showcased. Pay particular attention to Artist Statements and description of work/techniques. If your writing/grammar
skills aren’t up to the challenge, get help. People are often glad to help, if only you ask. Remember, it’s all your work, and if we’re seeing it, we’re judging it!

‘Your’ means work that originates solely with you. Original art, fresh and unique. Nothing copied, nothing “borrowed” (from the Internet or anywhere else) without permission and attribution, nothing plagiarized. No work from photos, unless they are also your original photos. (The judges know the difference.)

‘Best work’ can be tricky. Ideally we all would present the work that’s the strongest, both artistically and technically. Yet we’re almost never good at evaluating our own work, simply because we can’t be objective about it. [This is why best-selling authors have editors, top vocal artists have music producers, and Oscar-winning actors have directors.] Sometimes the pieces we choose as our very ‘best’ are in actuality simply the ones that have personal meaning to us, the ones we’re the most emotionally attached to. It pays to get an outside opinion about your selections, preferably from someone with an art background — a gallery owner, an art teacher, a professional photographer, another artist, etc. If you show your work regularly, pay attention to comments such as, “I wish I’d done that,” and “Are you willing to part with that?” or “Is that for sale?” and, best of all, “Wow!” You may be surprised by which pieces elicit interest, and which are repeatedly passed over.

These are clues that should inform your choices.
Invest some time and effort in your presentation; it will pay off eventually!
Make A Donation
  1. General Fund
  2. Showcase Event
  3. Grants Fund
  4. Student Art
  5. L.B. Hayes Fund
  6. Fundraiser
The Santa Maria Arts Council is a 501c3 non-profit. Your donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.
Tax ID # 23-7011595

Santa Maria Arts Council
P.O. Box 5
Santa Maria, CA