Penelope Dullaghan:Thoughts on Judging Communication Arts

(Yours truly in my super comfy – and fancy – hotel room; day of arrival.)

Judging the illustration awards for Communication Arts was super fun. It was really enlightening to see the artwork submitted from the other side, and to get a better understanding of how the process works. I’ve judged a few other competitions before, but this was by far the most stream-lined and smoothest process yet. CA does it right.

The first round of work was judged rapid-fire. For the commercial-use categories (editorial, advertising, publishing, etc) we listened to the written descriptions of each project and judged the work based on the accompanying visual — assessing if it met the assigned objective and whether or not it was an interesting, well-executed visual.

For the non-commercial work (self-promo, unpublished, etc) there were no descriptions. It was simply judging the visual by sight alone, just like you would snap-judge a postcard sliding across your desk — you either like it (and will potentially hire that illustrator) or you won’t (and into the trash it goes.) I suppose that sounds harsh, but I guess you just have to be sure the work you’re sliding across that desk of the busy art director is your best. So strong visuals that stand alone and stand out are the way to go. Nothing less.

My fellow judges were top art- and creative- directors from a magazine, design firm, publisher and advertising agency. Fancy! They were all from downtown big cities and had the busy, exciting lifestyles to go with that. (I loved hearing their stories and viewpoints! So different from mine!). I was the only illustrator. And I was definitely the only stay-at-home, hippie mom who hikes through the woods every day and stops to take pictures of tree bark and jot notes about impermanence. hee hee. I felt a bit like an outsider. I am not super busy – by choice. (Been there, done that.) I like my pace of grace and hold it extremely sacred. I love my work as an illustrator, and I am in a fortunate position to be selective about the projects I take on. Woot woot! High fives to time-guarding, hippie moms! :)

Back to judging… I was very honored to be asked! What an awesome experience to look at stacks and stacks of amazing artwork! I loved asking the other judges about how they find the illustrators they work with and what they expect as they move through the process. I found out what they are actually looking at as far as self-promotion and what kinds of images catch their eye. It was super helpful — both asking my questions and being completely immersed in artwork for three days. So fun.

I think my work is about to become a lot stronger because of this experience.

Thank you Penelope!!!