How Awards can help you succeed in your creative work

There are good reasons why, as a creative person, you should enter awards and why we think it is worth the effort. And it’s not a big effort.

We know how influential awards such as the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Turner Prize, etc… are in successful artists’ careers. If they enter awards, why can’t you?

Taking part in an award – from working on your application to winning – gets you through a process that eventually helps achieve your goals.

Read on to find out how finalists and winners benefited from previous Kent Creative Awards.


Writing your application is a useful process

Writing things down makes you think about what you do, why you do it and what your goals are. It helps you get a clearer picture of your work.

John Baker, Head of marketing and communications at the Marlowe Theatre (winner of the Venue of the Year category in 2016) says that applying to the Kent Creative Awards “was a good way to look back at our achievements over the last year”. Joan Mackarell, enamel artist, finalist in the 3D Arts and Objects category in 2016 and recipient of the jury’s Special Mention, adds that “the application process was good as I had to summarise my achievements which is always a useful exercise.”
2017 Special Mention Derek Himsley says: “I have found entering the Kent Creative Awards a very enjoyable experience, it prompted me to evaluate what I am doing and find areas that may have otherwise escaped attention in the general run of things.”.

As you put together the details of what you have achieved, you will also face your doubts. That’s fine. Later on, you will point out what you want to improve.

Awards generate a buzz

People involved in awards tell others about it and a lot of connections are made both in real life and online. As you take part in that buzz, you will realise that you can influence what’s going on and make some of the communication about you and about your work: use it to tell your story. Entering in conversations generated by the publicity around the awards will boost your social media presence. You will engage with others creatives entering but also with their partners, sponsors, clients, audiences, etc…
Also, remember to mention the people you work with in your communication. It’s a thoughtful gesture and it helps build stronger relationships with them. When they acknowledge you and engage in your communication, it provides you with a better endorsement.

It boosts confidence and makes you feel good

Being  selected and recognized by a professional jury panel gives finalists and winners a real boost and lot of encouragement.

Stella Chapman, from design company Salt, says: “As finalists in two categories and recipients of a Special Mention, it was fantastic to be recognised for the quality of our work”. Emma Pierce, finalist in the Audiovisual category confirmed that it has been something she has been “proud about.”

Being a finalist is great. Winning is amazing. It shows you are capable of doing something special.

Kate Linforth, winner of the 3D art and objects category in 2016, says: It was fantastic to know that my work was appreciated not just by those who took part in the project but by a wider audience who felt it deserved recognition.”
Nicola Schauerman, from Genetic Moo (winner of the audiovisual category in 2016) says: “It gives us confidence. We were delighted to be finalists and then to go one step further and actually win, we were really delighted. That’s a great one.”
Julia Groves, winner of the Visual Arts category in 2016 says: “I am grateful to have won the award as it demonstrated that others are interested in my work and that my practice is appreciated. This is very helpful when I get those times of insecurity.”

Many find the encouragement provided by an award motivating; it makes them want to move forward and take action.

Julia Groves says:Winning the award has ripples – not sure where they are going – but it was a significant event for me this year” and Nicola Schauerman: This award encourages us to carry on exploring digital art and its potential.”
Joanna Jones and Clare Smith, from Dover Arts Development (winning the award as the Arts Organisation of the Year in 2016) say: “The recognition through the award has boosted our confidence and the confidence of others in us and supported our ambition for the arts in Dover.”

Sumita Chauhan (winner of the 3D Art & Objects category in 2017) says: “This Award endorses my belief in my art practice and my creative approach to work with people with dementia. It encourages me to carry on working the way I enjoy most as an artist.”

Emily Tull (winner of the Visual Arts category in 2017) feels the same: “For me, winning was being shortlisted in a visual arts category, so to actually win was a huge recognition.” and so does Natasha Steer (voted Creative Champion in 2017): “I truly appreciate the award and in fact I can’t even explain how much it really truly meant and how much it helped. It gave me confidence to believe in myself and to stand firm and believe in my ideas and creativity.”

Alexandra Campbell (joint winner of the Publishing and Written Words category in 2017) believes : “It’s such an encouragement to keep on trying to get better all the time.”

It gives others confidence to work with you

The recognition of the quality of your work by a jury panels adds value to your practice.

Nicola Schauerman explains: “It’s about giving you confidence, but it also gives people who are interested in you confidence in what you are doing. And very importantly to us, confidence in the medium we are working with, because interactive art is still a relatively new area. If Kent is celebrating it, then… fantastic! Because galleries are a little bit slow on the uptake, embracing what we’re doing. It encourages our commissioners because we can say “Award winning artists” to people not just in Kent but in London and abroad as well. “Award winning artists” becomes quite key to it.””
Willie Cooper, from the Deal Festival (winner of the Event of the Year award in 2016) confirms: “It gave us huge credibility. To be able to put “Best event 2016” out on your website and your letterhead is quite good when you consider that we are talking about the whole of Kent”. She adds that the Deal Festival also found that winning the award had a very positive effect on everything they did, whether locally or nationally: “We gained the ACE Catalyst Evolve for future development and working with young people with our pTrumpets and pBones and it was great to advertise our win in the application.”
Something that John Baker, from the Marlowe Theatre confirms: “winning the award was a positive experience for our reputation”.

Kate Linforth explains how winning created opportunities for her: “the Award helped towards the introduction to a gallery who now houses some of my works and also links to other people who may be helpful for future projects. I have been accepted to exhibit at the LifeDeathWhatever exhibition in the National Trust’s Sutton House, Hackney.”
Salt also found new opportunities: “being finalists has led to being commissioned to work on the Kent Creative rebrand, creating a cohesive new identity.”

It raises awareness of your work and promotes it

Entering awards, being part of the buzz, being a finalist or a winner offer you opportunities to communicate about yourself and about your practice. It is straight promotion and it is not just you saying.

Kate Linforth explains that “the art world is very competitive and sometimes the art created is not enough to get an artist noticed. Having such an accolade can only be a positive when you are trying to get your work noticed.”
Animator and illustrator Emma Pierce says: “Becoming a finalist helped me share the creative work I had worked on.”
Nicola Schauerman, from Genetic Moo, works with digital and interactive art which is still an unconventional media: “it is very important to get awards because we want people to know about us. It is  important to let people know what you are doing, how it works and the value it has for the community. Certainly people have become more aware of us.”  The Deal Festival agree: “We have found it very productive for marketing and gave us added recognition further afield. It was also very important in our dealing with Artists and Funders. It gave us assurance of how other see our work.”
Dover Arts Development explain how they presented it: “The award came at a brilliant time, just before a major DAD event in Dover’s Town Hall: INSPIRATION = DOVER. The event opened with speeches from Charlie Elphicke MP, Sarah Dance from Culture Kent and Chris Mellor from the Arts Council. We were able to announce the award to all our guests and we received public congratulations from our VIPs. The award was also well-timed as 2016 is our 10th anniversary year and we are embarking on a new phase for DAD.”

The Hideout (winner of the Graphic Design category in 2017) adds: “The Hideout are massively proud of winning the Graphic Design category at this year’s Kent Creative Awards! It’s great to get the recognition for all the hard work the team have put in over the past year, and what makes it even more special is that it’s judged by other creative minds in Kent.What makes this award different is that it’s not just a specific part of the creative industry… It’s every part. From designers to sculptors, painters to dancers, the awards really are a great way to show off the depth and breadth of the creative output from our amazing county. That’s something we’re all really proud of!”

Emily Peasgood (winner of the Music category in 2017)  iconfirms: “I feel honoured to receive this award. It makes all the work I do feel validated and appreciated. I think it’s really important to share the work of artists in Kent, as we have a flourishing artistic economy and so many people are doing wonderful things”.

You have a good time making contacts

Awards often culminate in a ceremony. The Kent Creative Awards ceremony is a meeting place, a focal point for the creative sector in Kent, giving opportunities to engage with your professional community and influencial people and organisations.

Leah Thorn, voted Creative Champion of the year in 2016 confirms: The biggest benefit has been making new contacts. After an introduction to Tracie Peisley, I had a “Older Women Rock!” Pete in the Skin exhibition in Whitstable and she introduced me to the Profanity Embroidery Group. Two of them have already made pieces for the OWR! pop-up shop and on meeting them as a group around further collaborations. Invaluable development for me as an artist.”
John Baker says the ceremony “was a highly enjoyable and very positive event and I met people I would not have normally met”.
Stella Chapman from Salt adds: “We celebrated with like-minded creatives and developed some great connections” and Joan MacKarell “I really enjoyed the drinks beforehand where it seemed easy to talk to new people.”
Emma Pierce explains: “I had a great time at the ceremony, the evening was perfect and the meal delicious. I felt proud to be part of such a creative circle of people within Kent. It was also a great opportunity to meet and congratulate the finalists and winners of the evening and network with them. I made several connections and have now even worked with these people on joint projects together.

Ben Horner (winner of the Audio-Visual category in 2017) has also benefited from  “The Kent Creative Awards were a terrific experience to be a part of and a great opportunity to meet new creative people. To my surprise I won the award in the audiovisual category and am absolutely delighted. I have no doubt that my award – and networking opportunity that the event offered – will help advance my career in ways I hadn’t imagined. “

It provides additional opportunities

  • Well, for a start, we’ve written this blog, highlighting the work of a number of finalists and winners of last year Kent Creative Awards.
  • Alexandra Campbell, author, blogger and coach was a finalist in the Publishing category. As a result, she was able to attend a free day workshop on Google Analytics, offered by the sponsor Stormchasers.
  • Finalists and winners were invited to talk on the Kent Creative show following the Awards.
  • Willie Cooper and Nicola Schauerman were invited by Sian Murphy on her Women in Business Radio Show to talk about their awards.
  • Certificates and trophies in your office or studio become part of your world. The recognition of your work will be a subject for future conversations.
  • John Baker points out an extra benefit if you work in a team: “it was also a nice thank you for our staff.”

In conclusion…

Grab the opportunities that entering awards offer. If you are thinking along the lines of “I am not sure this is for me” or “I haven’t achieved a lot this year”; think again. If the awards you are thinking of entering cover your industry, there is a chance that they are indeed for you. When you start working on your submission, you will realise that you have achieved more than you think. This alone is a good process. Also, often, it is not the volume of what you do that matters, but the work itself. So showing it off is always worth doing…

For the moment, show your passion and believe in yourself. That will transpire in your application. People will respect the fact that you believe in what you do.


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Author: nathalieb