Friday, September 22, 2017

How to get crabby on a beautiful sunny day...

... if you weren't crabby already, just do a show entry using CaFE.

You are asked to submit images "1200 pixels or larger on longest side," and then the call goes on to say "Please note that uploaded images are scaled by the system and two monitor versions are created: a small 100-pixel thumbnail and a large 700-pixel image.  These images are available for you to preview in your portfolio after you upload."

What image do you suppose the jurors will see?  If they're going to see 700 pixels, why don't they just tell us to upload a 700-pixel image?  If they're going to see 1200+ pixels, why tell us about the 700-pixel image?  Why do I need to know this?

They tell you to submit "A brief artist statement (50-100 words, maximum)."  Does this mean somewhere between 50 and 100 words, or does it mean 100 words maximum?  Scratch your head all you want to (is my 45-word statement going to be disqualified for being too short?) but never mind, because when you get to the place to type in the statement, it now says "1000 characters maximum."

I got to the website by clicking a link in a message from Surface Design Association, which is sponsoring this Exhibition in Print (no actual show, just a catalog).  After that, I clicked my way into the CaFE website and started filling out the application.  Despite confusing directions, I managed to upload my images.  I was not distracted by ominous remarks like "If Modify or Remove options are not available, click to archive past entries, then return here to modify or remove media."  or "If you need to add artwork samples, save first before returning to MY PORTFOLIO.  You may come back to your saved application from MY CAFE ENTRIES to complete or review the application prior to checkout."

Now it's time to attach the images to the entry form.  I had misread the ominous remark about coming back to my saved application, and mistakenly went to the page where you would select what call you are responding to.  The form told me to select the organization sponsoring the call.  I typed in Surface Design Association and it said "showing 0 events."  I typed in Exhibition in Print and it came up with a show in New Mexico sponsored by somebody else.  Hmmm.  I started clicking around on all the many tabs on the website and eventually came back to the page I started from, which indeed had the right show listed.  Sigh of relief.

I had uploaded three full images and three detail shots.  But the system told me to attach two or three images to my entry.  Hmmm.  I went back and read the call and sure enough, it had said "up to 3 images total may be submitted; artists are encouraged to submit at least 2 pieces and no more than 1 detail.  Submission of a detail is not required."  So I uploaded just the three full images.

Why do you suppose the system is set up to discourage detail shots?  I've rarely encountered fiber art shows that didn't want details -- as in any materials-based art, how it's made is always a big viewer magnet.  I've made art where the full view is almost meaningless without a detail shot, so if I want to enter such a piece, and have to submit the detail, then in effect I can only enter two pieces instead of three.  What's that supposed to accomplish?  Do you think this was a deliberate decision made by SDA, or an unintended consequence of the program?

this image doesn't do much for me....

until you add the detail shot

The only other show I've entered recently was a relatively small regional show, and the entry process couldn't have been easier: send an email with your images, put your info and list of the pieces you're submitting into the body of the email, call them the next morning and tell them your credit card number.  I know you can't reasonably offer this kind of service if you expect hundreds of entries (or can you??) but all the bureaucratic complexity of the automated programs has to be a turn-off to potential entrants.  It wouldn't be so bad if the directions weren't apparently written by the same people who write user manuals; maybe geeks can follow along, but those of us who just speak English have serious problems.

That's why I'm crabby today.  But if you're willing to put up with the hassles, you can still enter SDA's Exhibition in Print until midnight tonight.  Click here to get to the call; after that you're on your own.


  1. For what its worth, I took hate doing entries on CAFE. It's so non-intuitive, I hate the image sizing instructions, and so many things are not clear. Plus everything else you said. My favorite entry system is the one Lisa Ellis designed for SAQA and which is used for lots of the other shows now too- it's easy to use and the instructions are clear. ARRRGHHHH to CAFE.

  2. I think many people are really really bad at designing websites and forms for them. REALLY bad. And there are always plenty of other impediments to submission, too. I haven't entered my work in shows before. This year I intended to submit to the Iowa State Fair. There was some mechanism to have quilts sent back to you, but since I haven't done that before, it wasn't clear to me. The other option was to go pick it up. I could do that.... except the pick-up day was the same day as the eclipse. That wasn't gonna happen. Maybe next year!

  3. I was told once that they don't ask for details any more because they can zoom in for them. This works if the image is large enough, but I dont know about a small detaIl on a large piece like your flag...
    I understand your frustration with this process😫

    1. If the image is going to be resized to 700 pixels, or even 1200, they're not going to get much additional detail from zooming.