Q & A

Application Questions

Photography Questions

Eligibility Questions

Questions About Contest Categories



Application Questions:

Any tips for using the electronic system to enter the contest?
It’s very simple to use, so just follow the directions. Assemble everything you need before you begin: great photos of your artwork, brief descriptions of your technique and materials, contact info (where you can be reached this fall). Be brief in your descriptions: there is a word limit and the system will cut off descriptions that exceed the limit.

How many times can I enter, and how many pieces of work can I enter?
You may make only one application this year. Your application may include up to 3 different pieces of work (submissions). If you choose to enter 3 pieces, you can enter 2 of them in the same category. Your third piece of work must be entered in a different category, even if it is made of the same medium. Example: You design gold jewelry. You enter the contest once. You submit images of 3 different pieces of jewelry with that application. You enter two pieces in the gold jewelry category. Your third piece must be entered in a different category.

Can I submit just one piece of art, but compete with that piece in three different categories to improve my odds?
No. One piece, one category.

Can I win in more than one category?
Yes. With one application, you may enter 3 different artworks (up to two in the same category).  It is therefore possible to be a two-time or even a three-time winner.

If I made a mistake, or I change addresses, or I want to submit a different piece of art, how do I change my application?
Changes must be made before the contest deadline. Input your username and password, and make your word changes in your existing application. Do not create a new application. If you have trouble making the changes, please contact the contest administrator.





Photography Questions:

The rules say “do not alter images of your artwork.” Does that mean I can’t clean up an image?
“Do not alter” means: no Photoshopping the image to improve or alter the appearance of your artwork. No tinkering with the color, line, form, etc. No cosmetic improvements. We strongly urge you to resist the temptation to “clean up” if by “clean up” you mean removing naturally occurring shadows or light spots (sometimes, an object looks alien if you erase all the shadows). If your artwork becomes a finalist in the contest, you’ll bring it to the Buyers Market and put it on display, so it should appear in the image to be the same object that it is in person.

Any tips for good contest photo-taking?
Try for better than a snapshot. If you can’t shoot, get a friend who is skilled to take the image for you. The best contest images, like product shots, are centered, in focus, and as close-up as possible while capturing the whole piece and its major details. Skip the crazy lighting effects like auras.  It is recommended to photograph jewelry on a flat, light, and solid background to avoid distortion.

What if I want to model my jewelry on a person?
We highly discourage submitting a photo of jewelry on a model. Photos like this are much more difficult to reproduce when it comes time for us to do publicity for your work. Only if it is absolutely necessary to show the function of the piece of jewelry do we allow an exception.



Eligibility Questions:

I was a finalist last year. Can I resubmit the same artwork this year?
No. All work submitted to the competition this year must have been produced or introduced after October 1, 2015.

Can I apply as a student if I’m a professional who has returned to school?
The student division of the NICHE Awards was created to encourage emerging talent and aspiring artists who are enrolled in arts certificate or diploma programs, art centers, craft schools, colleges and universities. Our goal is to help identify promising students and to support art education. Although we recognize that the Internet/Etsy era enables anybody to sell his or her art, our student entrants are typically not in the marketplace yet.  Most of their entries are artworks created for school assignments, portfolios, academic-based exhibitions, intern projects, personal enjoyment, friends and family, etc. That is why student entries are judged on technical merit and creativity, but not market viability.

If you have been in the marketplace and have gone back to school full time, you technically do qualify to enter work that is produced for school in the student category. However, you should not enter work that you have been selling in the craft marketplace as a student entry. If you are a pro who is taking a continuing education course here or there, please enter as a pro.

What if I’m a student, but I’m selling my work on Etsy: should I enter as a professional?
Remember: Professional entries are scored on three criteria: technical merit, creativity and market viability. If you are a student, but you are also actively creating works for retail or wholesale, enter your student work in the student division. If you want to compete against professionals with work you’ve created specifically for sale or for resale, enter the pro division.

I recently graduated, but have not yet sold my work wholesale to shops/galleries. So I’m not really a pro or a student. Can I still enter the competition?
If you recently graduated from an undergraduate, graduate or certificate arts program in the U.S. or Canada, you may enter the student division if the work you are entering was produced during your time as a student. If you’ve been out of school more than a year, enter as a pro. Remember: All work submitted to the competition this year must have been produced or introduced after October 1, 2015.

Can I enter in both the student and pro divisions?
No. Only one application per person is allowed. If there are any questions about an entry’s eligibility, the NICHE Awards jury has the final say, and may review each situation on a case-by-case basis.

What is the Arts Educator Award?
The Arts Educator Award recognizes a professor of the arts who has been nominated by students entering the NICHE Awards contest.  The winner is chosen by contest organizers, based on the comments submitted by students.



Frequently Asked Questions about NICHE Award categories:


How do I know what category to enter?
Choose the category in which your artwork has the strongest merit. We like to say a piece must substantially fit in a category. The important elements of the work should fit the category title, even if those important elements don’t make up the total piece. The NICHE Awards jury reserves the right to reassign an artwork to a category where it will be more fairly judged, or a category deemed more appropriate for the object.

Can you clarify some of the contest categories?
Jewelry: Fine 

Jewelry typically made with fine metals and precious or semi-precious stones.  Value of the piece may be based on form and materials.

Jewelry: Fashion
Jewelry typically made with less valuable materials. Value of the piece may be based on form, not necessarily on materials.

Functional Art
Refers to art objects made for a use or purpose beyond decoration. In other words, the artwork doesn’t solely resemble a utilitarian object, but must be fully usable or practical, as the customer would expect.

Refers to three-dimensional art made for decorative or aesthetic effect, with or without regard for usability or wearability.

Fashion Accessories: Not Jewelry
Handbags, hats, belts, shawls, shrugs, backpacks, key rings, etc. The artwork should be wearable, but not a piece of jewelry in the traditional sense.

Jewelry: Gold 
At least 50% of the piece must be gold.

Jewelry: Silver
At least 50% of the piece must be silver.

Jewelry: Wedding 
Engagement rings and bridal ring sets (use other categories for wedding adornment such as tiaras, head pieces, necklaces or earrings).

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