Photo Credit: Asif Akbar

I entered a competition last year called the Sheikha Manal Young Artist’s Award. It was a positive experience: I placed as a shortlisted candidate and attended a very pleasant awards ceremony while connecting with other artists in Dubai’s community. I was sad when the competition came to fruition because it was the last year I was eligible. I found it just in time, before the age cut off of 30. Candidates must be between the ages of 18-30. Needless to say, I was quite pleased when I read in Khaleej Times that they increased the age limit to 35! I’m determined to place, if not win, this next year in one category. Determined. And since I read that announcement my brain has been working away at several ideas. This leads me to a larger question I am always returning to: what are the qualities of award winning artwork?

The first thought that always occurs to me is innovation. Work that is unique in some way generates attention (think sharks in formaldehyde). How can someone be innovative?

  • new use of old medium
  • unique idea
  • unique media
  • manipulate the elements or principals of art

Material and idea always come to mind. I find the notion of viewer engagement and participation motivating (think J.R., Candy Chang, or PostSecret). As for material I am always, always returning to this notion. There is something about innovative use of material that is hugely inspiring. My Pinterest site is filled with artists who use nontraditional materials or uniquely utilize traditional materials. I love people who are willing to take risks, even at the risk of being kitsch.

I know there must be other avenues to artist innovation but these two cloud my mind to the point of distraction. I need to investigate this further.

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What are additional qualities of award winning, gallery garnering, artwork? Feel free to contribute your ideas below.