MAKING A MARK: Open Exhibition: Submission & Selection


Open Exhibition Submission & Selection (OESS) is the organisation behind a platform now used by a lot of art societies, national art organisations and some art galleries to provide a digital platform for the administrative process behind digital submissions to open exhibitions and art competitions.

If you see a call for entry with “” in the URL, it uses this platform.

This is the OESS  organisational Home Page for a website which has two sides:

  • one for the organisations – to create calls for entries
  • one for the artists to submit artwork to open exhibitions

Below I look at what each side does in more detail

What’s very refreshing about the whole setup is it’s been developed and is managed by artists for artists. In other words, people who know what the challenges and frustrations of both running and curating open exhibitions and entering them! No wonder it has grown so fast in the last decade plus!

The OESS is hosted and managed by Interactive Technology Ltd.

Managing the OESS and OLIST for artists, art galleries and arts institutions in the UK and abroad.


Home Page of the Website

The OLIST – for artists

This is The OLIST.  You can view The OLIST irrespective of whether or not you have registered.

An example of the listings on the OLIST

Essentially the OLIST connects artists with UK ‘Calls to Artists’ and other UK arts opportunities. It provides a continuous listing of calls for entries – listed in order of the deadline for the call for entry

You can view the OLIST whether or not you have registered

However if artists register, the OLIST provides them with

  • monthly updates of the listing of all calls for entries registered on its system
  • reminders of when calls are due to close – with additional 7 days and 48 hours to go reminders too
  • dedicated help and support if applying for exhibitions on the OESS system

How do open exhibitions get on the system?

To get an open exhibition on to the OLIST, an organisation needs to contract with OESS to use the platform.

Benefits relate to:

  • a secure system for digital submissions and:
    • processing of entry fees
    • compliance with regulations for administration of personal data (GDPR)
    • permission-based access to the system and the data it includes for specific named individuals
  • good value for money – i.e. not paying for what you don’t use
    • only pay for what you use
    • free publicity, reminders, support to artists – all incorporated in the pricing
    • free optional online exhibition 
  • flexibility to tailor make calls and arrangements work for an organisation
    • can be used for various different types of calls for entries
    • draft calls for entries in advance and edit as required 
    • tailor and gather the information you need from those entering
    • take a break from selection 
  • an efficient process for the hosts and the organisation
    • dedicated URLs for every call for entry / open exhibition
    • all information is online – for those submitting and those selecting
    • no need to chase entry fees – no entry is complete unless the fee is paid upfront
  • reduces carbon footprint
    • eliminates a lot of the transaction costs associated with previous arrangements
    • no more paperwork
    • selection is done online – no travel costs or time wasted away from home / the studio
    • artists only arrange transport if artwork is selected
    • online exhibitions get visitors from all over the world
  • online exhibitions provide benefits for artists
    • flexible viewing options – by thumbnail, solo image or by artist
    • artist can include bio details and links to websites and social media
    • the hosts are running a viewing platform not an art gallery

What’s in it for the artists?

For artists, the answer is simple and provided on The Artists Page

You don’t need to go looking for opportunities to exhibit your work. The Calls for Entries come to you – on a regular basis, updated each month.

  • you can register for an account which you then use to submit work for exhibitions 
  • you get information about open calls delivered regularly to your inbox
  • you get to decide which calls interest you
  • If you’re busy with your artwork or other income earning occupations – you also get reminders re deadlines
  • you can add information to your entry
  • if you want to feel secure – about both your personal data and your entry fee payments – OESS acknowledges the degree of comfort you expect and has built a system to provide it
  • you can login to see the result of selection rather than wait to be notified
  • you get comprehensive printable artwork labels for artwork delivered to a gallery


  • a personalised home page.

I’ve written all of this simply by working my way through the website. I’ve not actually inspected the system. 

However it’s interesting that I know LOTS of artists who use the system to enter various exhibitions and I’ve not heard a complaint yet from any about how it works.

The only issues I’ve heard about is when organisers have neglected to cover all the FAQs when setting up an Open Entry.

Leave a Reply

Next Post

“East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art” at Cantor Arts Center

In this group show—organized under the auspices of Asian American Art Initiative at the Cantor Arts Center—forty-six artists offer guiding images of Asian American dignities, experimentation, and sociality. Taking up AAAI co-director Marci Kwon’s provocation to “conceive of collection as debt,” this presentation frames the institutional wealth of California’s Stanford […]

You May Like

Subscribe US Now