Friday, January 16, 2009

Lessedra Update

For anyone out there who is curious about Lessedra, an annual international miniature print exhibition, I have some answers.

When I first heard about Lessedra, I thought I'd do some investigation. I found that a number of printmakers that I know of and whose work I respect had entered in the past, so I thought that it might be a good opportunity. One of the reasons I had some concern was the method of payment for non-US international participants is with Western Union, and that is typically a red flag over the internet. After discovering how many artists had participated, and done so over multiple years, I figured that for the US$50 (at the time) how much of a scam could that be? Really, there aren't that many printmakers in the world :) You'd have to work awfully hard for a pretty small return, so I decided to enter (Yes, I'm skeptical by nature, but especially after being touched by scammers a few times - see my scam roll on the right side-bar).

When I was accepted for the 2007 exhibition, I was extremely excited: this is an international exhibition and I got in!! Late in 2007, my prints were returned and I received the fantastic catalogue for the exhibition. As I looked through the catalogue, I was astonished at the number of printmakers represented, and I started to become somewhat skeptical about the actualities of the exhibit. I felt that even though there were jurors, if there were that many successful participants, how could there really be any "selection"; did everyone who applied get in? Not that there's really a problem with that, but if that were the case, then the jurors' efforts would be more towards selecting winners, and being accepted would be less of a prestigious occasion.

I stand corrected.

Lessedra is a gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria. Their annual World Art Print Mini Print exhibition showcases contemporary printmakers from around the world. While the event started in 1991, it really began to take off after 2002, when Georgi Kolev, current owner and director of the gallery, started to work on the event to make it the huge success that it is today. By 2006, over 500 artists from more than 60 countries were represented in the event.

I had complained about the fee for entry, and still, I do think it's a bit expensive for my purposes. That said, the fee goes towards:

  • a spectacular catalogue (really, if you've never entered, and you're considering it, the catalogue of incredible work alone is worth it)
  • posting of successful artists' CVs on the Lessedra website (the list is maintained for the year until the next exhibition)
  • return postage for successful prints that remain unsold during the exhibition
  • administrative costs (including promotion, coordination of jurors, administration of prints and entries, etc.)
Unaccepted works are returned and the fee is refunded to any unsuccessful applicants. Lessedra does not take a commission on any sales of the prints from the exhibition. Again, that alone is a pretty good deal; most competitions/exhibitions that I know of take at least 25% commission on any sales, and often closer to 40%.

And, if you're work is of prize-winning calibre, the prizes are pretty darned good (even the special prize is equivalent to the entry fee):
First Prize (USD 500 = purchase of 3 works in edition of 2) and an invitation for a solo exhibition of the artist during the next annual exhibition.
Second Prize (USD 200 = purchase of 3 works),
Third Prize (USD 100 = purchase of 2 works).
5 Special Prizes, each one equal to USD 80 (purchase of 1 work) - a cheque covering the entry fee for participation in the next print annual.
Prize For Young Emerging Artist - USD 300 (in materials for print works) and an invitation for a solo exhibition of the artist during the next annual exhibition.
The Jury has the right to grant more than one Second and Third prizes and also more than one Prize for Young Artist.

And I can attest to the fact that the catalogue itself is a potentially valuable asset to the participants: I sold a piece from the exhibit as a result of that catalogue to a purchaser in France. That sale actually managed to mostly cover the cost of my entry in 2007. So really, I shouldn't complain about the cost, but the chance of a sale from an exhibition is always iffy, so you can't bank on it when you're calculating your expenditures for the year. And I'm particularly adept at whinging about money.

I wish to thank Georgi Kolev for taking the time to contact me and to explain the success of the Lessedra exhibition, and the value of the event to international printmakers. I hope that other printmakers who are interested in participating will have a better understanding of this event when they're considering entering. If I've got enough cash rolling around spare by the time the entry nears, I'll definitely submit again.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Amie, for this excellent post! Though I've not participated in Lessedra because I don't usually make miniprints, I can vouch for many of the big international print triennials, the large numbers of artists that are juried in as well as rejected, for it is a bit of a lottery who gets chosen I think. I've experienced both. The great catalogues and prizes are an incentive, though not all triennials are good. Yes, the fees seem to be expensive, more and more now, and it's a first to my knowledge that the jury fee is returned if one is not accepted! Mailing costs for large prints are getting prohibitive so I can see the attraction of miniprint shows. I may have to start working small!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing up the Lessedra competition - I have always been tempted to submit work, but then been concerned about it and that has always stopped me trying - but now I will!

ainesse said...

Hi Amie

I seem to find myself on here fairly often so I think its time I officially became a "follower". Your post about the Lessedra Mini Print is very welcome and quite enlightening as Linden and Marja Leena have commented. I am hoping to enter this year too.

best wishes


Unknown said...

Thanks everyone for your input - it's always good to hear what others' experience is regarding competitions & exhibitions, especially where there's money involved!