You put your heart and soul into your competition cake. Your family says it is your best work ever. Your friends swear you should have your own tv show – you are better than Buddy. You proudly set your cake out for judging. You surreptitiously watch the judges as they evaluate your cake. You check out your competition and are sure that you have won. You can point out the flaws in every other cake. You are, simply, the best.
The next day, you show up at the cake show, ready to revel in the glory of your win, only to discover that you placed lower than you expected…if you placed at all. Why didn’t you win? Why did those imperfect cakes beat yours?
I have a PowerPoint presentation that I give on What Judges Look For that I give at Days of Sharing. I will also be giving this talk at the ICES Convention in Reno. I will be posting my tips, but not the PowerPoint on my web page soon (www.RuthRickey.com). In the meantime, I want to share with you a story from one of my dear friends, Scott Ewing, from ISAC.
Scott is a talented, award winning photographer, among many other skills. He entered a lot of photography competitions and could not seem to get the requisite score to move onto the national level of the competition. As he expressed his frustration to a friend in the industry, his friend said, “It’s no wonder, look at the judges’ shoes. There’s the answer”. Scott scopes out the shoes and tries to figure out where this is going. Finally, he shakes his head and tells his friend that he doesn’t understand. “One is in loafers, one in tennis shoes and one in dress shoes – what does that show me?”. “Simple,” says his friend. “If they cannot agree on the type of footwear that is best, what makes you think they are all going to agree on something as subjective as a piece of art?”.
From that day forward, Scott kept in mind that he was shooting the photos first and foremost for himself. There was simply no way to guarantee that any group of people will react to the piece of art the same way as you. On any given day, you could win or you could lose. Create the art for yourself, for the joy of seeing your dream come to life.
The next time you attend the cake show competition, steal a glance at the judge’s shoes and remind yourself that art is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The joy isn’t just in a win; the joy is in the journey.
(Oh, and my shoes are almost always cute when I judge!)