""PAWS Competition"

How it was judged

For thirteen years the exhibition was the result of a competition which attracted 1300 entries. People often asked me how I judged a competition that has so many entries - and what was the secret of success.

You might think that with so many entries other people did a pre-selection. This was not the case; I said from the word go that if I was judging I wanted to see every picture.

My staff unpacked and recorded each entry, from an assortment of packages, some of which were packed as if they contain the crown jewels and others which didn't deserve to arrive in one piece!

The judging did not start until the closing date when I viewed each piece individually under gallery lighting conditions. The entries were divided roughly into IN, OUT, and MAYBE. At this point the IN, and OUT piles were very small and the MAYBE pile was huge. The judging continued 8 hours a day for a week, until the IN and OUT piles had grown and the MAYBE pile had reduced to nearly nothing. Then a very important thing happened; ALL the OUTs were viewed again in a different order (the importance of this is that a good piece of work viewed directly after a brilliant piece never looks as good and might be rejected unfairly). Many of the OUTs got reprieved at this point.

How did a picture make the grade? The answer is simple. Works did not have to be technically accomplished, they just needed to have 'a certain something' that caught my imagination. An original idea, charm, impact, atmosphere. Although I work in certain media, with animals and in a particular style, my taste is wide ranging, and no particular type of work has preference. The one thing that become apparent to me over the years is that artists are the worst judges of their own work! They appreciate all the finer points of everyone else's work but seem to grossly over- or undervalue their own.

I never read the name of the artist, so it could say Vincent in the corner and it wouldn't have had any effect on me. It is only when I was trying to reduce the numbers from say 300 to 100 that composition, technical skill, etc., started to play a part, and it was very rare that a 'clever title' was ever taken into account. By the time an artist became a finalist and the final list was drawn up, their work would have been looked at dozens of times. Even then I slept on my decisions before approving the list.

The final judging of the prize winners was not done until all the pictures had been photographed and web pages had been constructed. Then and only then was the final judging done, but still primarily using the actual pictures, rather than the web image. This final judging took a number of days of many hours a day. The whole judging process took in excess of three weeks, and it got more difficult every year.

For this final year the judging was easier only in that there were fewer pictures to view. Having invited the winners from previous years to submit work, I had to select those which I would exhibit. Then I had to select four winners - overall champion, second place, third place and the winner of the Memorial Scroll. It was, however, more difficult in that I had to pick ONLY three from every kind of entry, having not divided the entries into the various media divisions first. In the event I also awarded an additional special prize for technical merit.

With most competitions, judging is done by a committee, so you never know who to blame for the choices; Each judge hides behind the others. With PAWS this is not the case, I made the decisions from start to finish, I am extremely fair, and I am happy to stand behind what I decided.



PAWS 2004 - Finalists
PAWS 2004 - Home Page
Roy Chaffin Studios - Home Page
Winsor & Newton


To contact PAWS:-



[IMAGE] :- PAWS, 10 Nascot Wood Road, Watford, Herts. WD17 4RS, UK


This page is optimized for use with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 at a resolution of 1024 x 768
Copyright 2003 Roy Chaffin