With 1,582 entries at ArtPrize 2011, separating yourself from the crowd is one of the keys to success.  One way to get ahead of the pack is to generate a large fanbase before the competition even begins.  Artists who have finished as ArtPrize finalists in the past two years will enter this year's competition at an advantage over most first-time artists.

It would not be surprising to see any and all of the former finalists listed among the top vote getters in the first few days, but staying there and getting to the top ten will take more than just name recognition.

Here are some past finalists and where to see them this year.

2009

David Lubbers: Showed sculpture "The Grand Dance" on the Grand River in 2009.  Showing photograph "Scott Falls, Munising, MI" at The B.O.B. this year.

Thomas Birks: Showed "The Nessie Project" on the Grand River in 2009.  Showing collection of work "Unfinished paintings & photographs" at The B.O.B. this year.

Bill Secunda: Showed moose made of nails "The Moose" at The B.O.B. in 2009.  Showing sculpture "Mantis Dreaming" at The B.O.B. this year.

Tracy Van Duinen: Showed mosaic mural "Imagine That" at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum in 2009.  Showing multimedia mosaic mural "Metaphorest" at West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology this year.

2010

Chris LaPorte: Showed pencil drawing "Cavalry, American Officers, 1921" at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in 2010.  Showing pencil drawing "Funeral" at Cathedral Square this year.

Wander Martich: Showed giant penny made of pennies "Helping mom one penny at a time" at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2010.  Showing acrylic paint on paper, sand and masonry "One Nation Under God" at DeVos Place this year.

Paul Baliker: Showed driftwood sculpture "A Matter of Time" at Grand Rapids Public Museum in 2010.  Showing wood sculpture "Ocean Exodus" at The B.O.B. this year.

Bill Secunda: Showed lions made of nails "Dancing with the Lions" at The B.O.B. in 2010.  Showing sculpture "Mantis Dreaming" at The B.O.B. this year.

Mia Tavonatti: Showed stained glass mosaic "Svelata" at DeVos Place in 2010.  Showing stained glass mosaic "Crucifixion" at DeVos Place this year.

I'm looking forward to seeing what newcomers will be making some noise at ArtPrize this year.

Be watching in the days to come as we feature not only well-known and high-ranking artists and venues, but the out-of-the-way less publicized artists and venues which are also important to ArtPrize.