Their website is here (http://www.nextbigideala.com/smart-submission)

Reasons to enter:

1.  You have some work that qualifies as science and/or math themed art

2.  NO entry fees

3.  NO other fees.  Not even shipping.  Finalists and winners are represented using digital files, transmitted over the internets

4.  Cash prizes

5.  Exposure on the website and archives, and at the festival

6.  Possible bragging rights – if you win or place.  This is an International competition!

You will need:

1.  A jpeg photo of each piece ( a good one for judging)

2.  A caption for each piece

3.  A title for each piece

4.  An explanation of the math or science content/ context/ relevance of each piece

5.  Your address. email, etc (don’t worry, they’re legit)

If you are selected as a finalist they will request a high resolution tiff (*.tif) format version of your image.  A good high resolution image starts with a good flatbed scan (if the original is small enough), a high quality large size render of a digital artwork or  for large artwork a good sharp large picture using a DSLR camera (at least 14 megapixels).

They will ask you to perform color separations on your tif and send the color separated layers (CYMK as separate grayscale layers).  This is a standard menu item in some image handling software, and an add-on that is easily integrated into GIMP.

The links

To get GIMP free photo editing software go here: http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

Gimp is open sourced and also has a lot of FREE plugins.   For plug-ins and how to use ’em:

If you win a prize they’ll send a check out to you within a few weeks along with a big goofy ribbon.

The math and science level is not super high.  This is a family oriented festival with an art contest attached, so think about descriptions of your science and math themes that will be accessible to a general interested audience.  If your work is based on specialized or sophisticated science or math, be prepared to talk people through it in your captions.

The judges also do not practice “art speak”, so try for plain English.

A good jpeg for judging shows only the artwork – no barn walls, yards, curious cats, etc sneaking in from the background.  Remember that they won’t see the original, so it’s better to get a clean image by cropping more than cropping less for a more “accurate portrayal” with messy stuff at the edges.  Most clean glare free shots are either polarized or in the shade.  This will muddy your colors and shift some of them to the blue end of the spectrum.  Brighten and color correct them back so they don’t look like they’re underwater.  And try a little sharpening to compensate for camera lens imperfections and sensor limits.

Good luck!

10 thoughts on “The Los Alamos Science and Math art contest is open for entries

  1. Reblogged this on NerdlyPainter and commented:

    I won Honorable Mention in this contest (and a nice check) in 2011 for Vacuum energy, and I was a finalist in 2012. I can answer questions about the process and I’ll also vouch for these guys – this is a real contest, paid for by the supporters of the Science and Math festival in downtown Los Alamos. It;s growing rapidly too, so get your application and art in there early and get the exposure. It is entirely free to artists. Don’t fret the facebook integration. While your fans can vote, they’ve structured it to avoid turning into a popularity or vote begging contest.

  2. Pingback: Call for entry – Science Art – “Cosmos” | NerdlyPainter

  3. Gimp is open sourced and also has a lot of FREE plugins. Here’s where some of the plug-ins for color separations are located:
    1. Separate + http://cue.yellowmagic.info/softwares/separate-plus/index.html
    Tutorial here:

    2. http://registry.gimp.org/node/26975

    3. Tutorial with instructions on adding CMYK color separations : https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/CMYK_support_in_The_GIMP

  4. nerdlypainter, thanks a lot! Science and myth are big background components in my work, but I never could do the math, so I try to visualize concepts translated by those who can talk about string theory and plate tectonics and other subjects that just light ideas in my brain.

    • Hi JoAnn,
      Some of the Science and Math Art contests might be a bit nerdy, and some might be a good fit. I would suggest looking at the Los Alamos contest. Most of the jurors are artists with a foot in the technical world. You can ask some of your translators to help with the science relevance text and write what you feel for the artwork caption.

      There are other contests and groups that are focused on aparticular “technological medium” such as ASCI, and their contest has a bit more technology focus on the jury as well.

      Bridges (mathematical art) is run by mathematicians with an arts interest. If you have a strong collaboration with a mathematical translator, you might want to check them out too: http://www.bridgesmathart.org/

    • You should ask your technical collaborators and friends about learning how they first learned how to make figures and diagrams to portray science ideas and data. There is a whole layer of semiotics and symbolism that’s understood in scientific diagramming, and never really explicitly laid out for the non-initiate. Strong parallels to mythological, religious, and other art that relies heavily on symbolism and “understood” meaning for different symbols.

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