In my early days (about 15 or so years ago), I entered a lot of competitions to build up my resume. An unforeseen perk of all this competition entering was I won a few prizes. "Cloudy Water, Tryon Creek" was my real go-to print back then and it got me a few hundred bucks, some pretty ribbons and a publication to boot. This particular print is drawn onto such a thin piece of copper that I could probably fold into a paper airplane without much trouble. It was the source of weeks of frustration and was almost abandoned until some fine friends at the now sadly departed, Inkling Studio in Portland, Oregon insisted I rescue it from the scrap heap and push it a little farther. I'm glad I listened to them.
Nowadays, I hardly ever enter these competitions. Primarily because they have an entry fee and they require you to ship work to the show's location. Both are expensive enterprises and I have gotten a bit more selective. One that I did enter recently was for "American Artist" magazine. Now this is a publication that I hardly ever look at but the prizes were really impressive and there was a separate category for printmaking. I knew that this was a magazine that heavily focused on painting and drawing and I figured my realistic style would have a chance in the quiet little print category. I ended up in third place which got me $500 worth of really nice printmaking paper and a bunch of other art supplies. Not bad for the thirty dollar entry fee....
The print I entered for this competition was another Tryon Creek print. I think by the time 2003 had rolled around (which is when I finished this print) I had been along every bank of Tryon Creek. A wonderful place to be sure, but beware of the stinging nettles!
Competitions can be good, but I am very, very selective about what I do these days. Look at the costs, the potential prizes and the exposure.