For a few years now, I’ve listened to my friends talk about entering things in the state fair and was fascinated by the idea but convinced I had nothing that would compete.  I can’t exactly say what changed this year – maybe my confidence has grown or maybe I’ve just begun to worry less about what the world thinks and trust my heart.  Whatever it was, the change is welcome!  For my first year, I think I did amazingly well and I definitely learned a few lessons…

1) Make a copy of the entry form and note which projects I mean to enter in each category:  When the morning came to take my submissions in, I couldn’t remember for certain which categories I’d entered or which objects I’d intended to take.  Was a silly thing to do and, in the end, probably cost me a higher place on the item below because I ended up having to place it in “Fine Arts – Other” and it clearly isn’t “Fine Art” (at least not by my definition, which I probably couldn’t articulate, I just know this isn’t it).

Still a 9th place ribbon is nothing to sneeze at and I certainly will not complain as I’m sure this item must have beat out other entries that would better fit my definition of “Fine.”

2) If an explanation is required, it might not be a good fit for the fair:  I entered the below piece in “Recycled Crafts” and it didn’t place at all.  I strongly suspect the judges looked at it and had no idea that it used to be a coffee tin and they probably did not open the top and see that inside was a mini-journal designed to hold business cards (more photos of similar item here).  The only other option I might have had would have been to write a short description to attach to the bottom and, if I ever submit anything like this again, I will definitely do that.

3) Carefully consider ALL categories available and choose the one that fits the best:  The two items that did the best were definitely entered in the correct categories, though, the below was displayed with Valentine crafts, so makes me wonder if it might have grabbed a Best of Show if I’d entered it in the Holiday Arts category?  Regardless, I feel like it was in the category it belonged in (Decorative Painting  – Amateur), so I’m completely content and happy as a clam with 1st place!!  I definitely think the first item above would have done better if I’d entered it in “Miniatures” (as I’d initially intended).

4)  Perfect is the enemy of good:  The last item was not the item I intended to enter at all!  Which is especially weird since it ended up doing the best of all.  I had actually dismissed it as a possible entry because of a little flaw that only I could see.  For me, it’s an illustration of my new motto and it’s going to hang on my studio wall as a lasting reminder…

In a strange way, this experience has justified my creative path – made me feel like my talents are real and worthy of attention, which is a pretty important shift for me.  For the longest time, I’ve felt like sort of an imposter in the art world and no amount of praise from friends or family has ever been enough to convince me otherwise.  But these ribbons finally seem like incontrovertible proof – and they’re something I can look at over and over again when I need reminding.