I just did a little periscope on this, but I thought I’d put it out there in writing, too. Entering shows is a deeply personal thing, and while many of us share similar reasons for doing so (having your peers see your work, looking for validation, wanting to win a robbin, showing your support for the venue, etc.), we do need to remember a few things along the way. I have entered a few shows at this point, and they weren’t all QuiltCon, so here is what I have observed, and learned about myself. Your mileage may vary.
Yeah, rejection always leaves me broody, and worried that I’m not *enough* somehow. And then I realize that is just me trying to make it more personal than it really is. Where many shows are struggling to find entries, QuiltCon is really raising the bar for excitement and engagement. Other shows *wish* they were like that. While other shows are bigger, there isn’t nearly the buzz around them that there is for this show, and that’s for a specific reason: they have created a look and brand that is really a key component of who they are.
And, if I’m really honest with myself, I don’t really fit the mold for what the MQG has in mind for what modern quilts (or quilters) are: The quilts that I submitted are more on the art quilt spectrum with their designs, and the quilting is straight up (haha that’s funny. see what i did there? I slay me!) not modern. The only straight lines I put in are the ones that are done with a ruler, and there’s lots of other stuff around them. Like Angela Walters says, “quilt it ’til it’s dead”.
While it would have been nice to have made it in with other quilts, I also think comes down to knowing my audience: I am a longarm quilter, and a damn good one, and that’s important to me. I am not going to listen to that whisper in my ear that, if only I just tweaked my style, changed my work, I’d fit in. Yeah, maybe, but that’s the path to my madness, not to mention homogeneity. It stifles my voice, and my creativity suffers.
So, moving forward, I’ll consider carefully the next time I enter QuiltCon, and not because I don’t support them (because I do), but because my quilts really belong elsewhere. QuiltCon doesn’t have a category for me and the other longarmers out there, the ones who do wild wonderful beautiful work that sings across the quilt top, and I don’t think they’ll be getting one because it isn’t in the brand’s manifesto. And that’s OK, that’s their prerogative! It’s equally my prerogative to submit my work joyfully in a place that is a better fit for someone like me. And not to feel quilty-guilty about it.
There are so many shows who are accepting modern quilts these days, and I would encourage you to seek them out. I’d be happy to answer any questions about submitting to more traditional shows, but I highly recommend reading the interview I did with Scott Murkin (part 1 and part 2) a few months ago about this very topic. Scott will be the judge for QuiltCon 2016, FYI. Christa Watson also has a great post about entering other shows that are modern-quilt-friendly, as well as Cheryl Sloboda on what to do when you’re work is rejected.
And finally… I entered this one into QuiltCon 2015. The categories I entered it and my other quilt into where changed by the show, and I was competing against myself in the same category. I was crushed and severely disappointed. I entered it into the NQA show, and it won a First Place ribbon for Best Modern Quilt. Do it. Enter other shows.