So you want to enter… follow up

The non-competing displays at Silver Arrow

The non-competing displays at Silver Arrow

On August 29 I hosted “So you want to enter an A&S competition” class for artisans in Montengarde (Calgary) and we had 12 people in total attend and participate. I tried to keep some very loose notes for anyone who couldn’t attend – though these will likely require some conversation to elaborate on some of the points.

Pre-planned topic: What to expect from an A&S competition?

  • Read the competition description, don’t make assumptions that the competition will be the same as previous ones
  • Let the organizer know your project information well in advance so they can find the best judges for you
  • Consider WHY you are entering – a sense of duty? fun? learning? to win?
  • Be ready to learn from the experience
  • Practice “I don’t know” – there’s no shame in not being able to answer a question.
  • Commonly asked questions might include things like: What would you do differently if you were to do this again? What challenges did you encounter? – keep a notebook of interesting questions you encounter, and see if you can prepare for them for future challenges.
  • Use whatever calming techniques you find useful if you get nervous during competition.
  • Practice your presentation – possibly with someone who can give you feedback
  • Bardic competitions/entries are judged a bit differently from other A&S projects
  • Read the rubric in advance; it’s like a guideline for how to excel
    • ask your contest organizer for the rubric if they haven’t posted it in advance

Pre-planned topic: What to watch out for?

  • If you include photos with text in another language, include a translation.
  • Keep documentation to the minimum that you need
    • Use executive summaries, bullet points, clear areas of discussion
  • Don’t point out your errors until discussing what you’d do differently; be proud of your work
  • Make eye contact with your judges
  • Try not to nervously fuss while presenting
  • Use samples or photos of your various stages to illustrate steps
  • Consider if your garment would be best on a dressform or a person
  • You MIGHT get a “bad judge” – someone who hasn’t had their morning coffee, etc.. try not to let their bad mood influence your presentation
  • You might want expert judges, but organizers often have trouble getting judges; you may get more general judges and fewer experts, especially on unique topics.
  • You can let the organizer know in advance if there are any conflicts with a judge
  • Include your learning mistakes in the presentation

Pre-planned topic: How to excel?

  • Use primary sources if possible
  • Analyze the published experts – do you agree or disagree with their conclusions?
  • Original work can excel due to sheer beauty
  • Consider using period tools over modern tools for “bonus points”
    • Ditto for period techniques, patterns, materials, etc
    • Making your own tools, materials, etc can be another step-up, going above and beyond what would be expected
    • However, consider – would your persona have done all the steps in period? What would have been made? What would have been purchased?
  • Knowledge of things around your project:
    • lifestyle of people making what you made
    • political, economic, social factors
  • Enthusiasm, passion, and attention to detail go a long way
  • Eager for critique (constructive)
  • Not overly defensive
  • Awareness of the judges “we’re here viewing people’s dreams”
  • Take good photos of your work/resources
  • Avoid disorganized documentation, use executive summaries, consider best use of footnotes, end notes, and appendixes.

Requested topic: Research papers & levels of competition

  • largely a discussion on the various levels between Shire, Baronial, and Kingdom championships
  • discussion around fun challenges versus championships

Requested topic: “What would Master Thorvald ask?”

  • Most questions arise directly out of what is seen, what might be missing from documentation.
  • Wide questions like: who would have owned it,  etc
  • Looking at how the candidate reacts to the question as much as the response
    • Do you know the answer? Not know?
    • Defensive with critique? Not?
  • Might throw curveballs if there’s time – but that usually means you’ve addressed the basics already
  • Are you inspired by the competition?


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