One steadfast illustrator who is still entering shows even though he's a household name is Seymour Chwast. You'd think this co-founder of Push Pin wouldn't need to enter shows, you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know this artist and his unmistakable style(s). Yet year after year he enters, and what's even more important, he gets in. Not because of his name but because of his work. Truly fresh, year after year. Strong concepts, clever ideas, impactful images -- his work never ceases to amaze me, and inspire me. And it inspires our judges, too. Makes you wonder why younger artists don't see the need to have their work judged and have the chance of being exhibited in the leading annuals? One thing for sure is those that don't expose themselves are looking at a much shorter lifetime of illustrating than those that do. Take Seymour as a perfect example, the man has been illustrating for over 40 years--how many artists can say that. Oh and the other superstar that keeps on entering, Brad Holland. And he keeps getting in too, for the same reasons.
My guess as to why a lot of younger artist aren't entering shows is that many are too busy communicating with other artists about their work--their blog becomes their exhibition. They look at that as a perfect way to show-off their work. But that's like putting a note in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean, your friends might know about you but the world at large doesn't. The internet is a vast sea of information where it takes a lot to stand out. Annuals serve a purpose of weeding down to the best artists of our time and these are the artists that will be getting the commissions because someone has judged their work--third party endorsements help an art director to try a new artist or return to one they have used before. Having other people acknowledge your work matters, not only to the artist but to those who are buying.