To aid professional development, the Society has put together the following resource tools:
- Proposal Writing
- Writing an Artist’s Statement
- How to apply for a Grant, Residency, Funding, Aid, and other Opportunities for Assistance
- Writing a CV
- Registering a Company
What is an artist proposal?
An artist proposal is document used by an artist to propose for a job, as well as an exhibition. It contains the procedures on how to go about a job or an exhibition.
An artist proposal is structured to convince an art gallery, specifically the owner or curator about your worth as an artist. You have to let them know that your art has some artistic significance, is unique and that it appeals to the target-viewership of the gallery. it is important that your artworks can sell to sustain an exhibition and return the investment of the gallery.
Persuasive, cohesive grant proposals are key to winning funding for visual artists from private foundations, the federal government and individuals. Writing grant proposals is generally thought to be something that is extremely difficult and time-consuming, It doesn’t have to be. What distinguishes one proposal from another is thoughtful, systematic and cohesive writing. It is important to engage decision makers rather than bore or confuse them.
There are three basic types of grant proposals:
- A letter of inquiry (LOI) is a one to two-page summary that outlines the project. Funders request a brief description of the project before making a decision on whether to ask for a longer and more comprehensive proposal.
- A letter proposal is a three to five-page description of the project plan, the purpose for which funds are being requested, and background information of the artist or group requesting funds.
- The long proposal is the most common document that funders seek. Three to forty pages or longer, it contains the cover letter and proposal summary. The usual format for a long proposal includes; the need statement, goals and objectives, methods, budget, and evaluation.
Tips on how to craft winning grant proposals:
1 Begin with the need statement:
- A description of the artistic need that your project is addressing. (Some funders refer to the need statement as the “problem” statement.)
- Support your need statement with persuasive evidence such as slides, photographs, and news reports.etc.
- Use language and a format that are easy to read and understand, and be sure your need statement is consistent with your ability to respond to it responsibly.
2 Next develop the goals and objectives:
- The goal defines the ultimate result of the change that is being proposed, whereas the objectives are the measurable steps you expect to accomplish in the process of reaching your goal. Simply put, a goal is the end result that the objectives help you to reach.
- One way to write a good objective is to start your objective statement with wordings that suggest a purpose, such as “to reduce,” “to increase,” “to decrease,” and “to expand.” Here’s an example: “The objective of my photographic exhibition is to address the issue of artists’ welfare in Nigeria.”
- Objectives must be clear and concise. Your goals and objectives should tie directly to the need statement. The grant reviewer needs to be able to figure out that by the time the goals and objectives are met, the problem or need statement will have been addressed.
3 Then comes the methodology section:
These refer to the methods you will use to reach your objectives.
A method is a detailed description of the activities or strategies to be implemented in order to achieve the end specified in the objectives.
This is the section in which you explain what methods you will be using for the artistic project and why you have selected those specific methods.
The following tips can increase your chances of writing an effective methodology:
- Specify the activities that need to be done to meet the objective.
- State the starting and ending dates of the project.
- Name the person(s) responsible for completing each activity.
- Spell out the criteria for selecting participants.
- Tell why this particular method was chosen.
- Show how the methods are congruent with resources requested in the budget.
- Specify the population that will be served and, if applicable, how they will be chosen.
4 Next, the budget section details the funds you will need to carry out the artistic project:
- This isn’t where to surprise the reviewer with unrelated expenses.
- Every item that’s written in the budget must tie into the rest of the proposal. Funders want to know exactly where their money will be going.
- The budget section can be itemized using topics such as art tools, framing costs, film rolls, personnel, salary, travel and living expenses.
- If partial funding for the project has already been received, the budget section is where to note it.
5 Finally, the evaluation section:
- This is the section where you show how you will measure the degree of success in meeting the objectives in the grant application. The fewer objectives you mention in the proposal, the easier it is to develop the evaluation plan, which should include several things:
- The programme’s objectives and how you (and the grantor and the public) will know if they have been met.
- The data that will be collected to evaluate the project.
- How the data will be analyzed.
- Who will provide a report of the artistic project.
- Closely tied to evaluation is dissemination. Most private foundations want their applicants to share the findings of the project with others. Dissemination refers to the spreading of the information, which can be achieved via a report, video, book, conference, radio programme or any combination of these.
What is an Artist’s Statement?
An artist’s statement is a short document written by the artist, which provides a window into the artist’s world. It offers insight into a single piece or an entire body of work and by describing the artist’s creative process, philosophy, vision, and passion. It enlightens and engages while at the same time giving the audience-potential buyers, exhibition curators, critics, fellow artists, or casual browsers-the freedom to draw their own conclusions. An artist’s statement reads easily, is informative, and adds to the understanding of the artist.
What isn’t an Artist’s Statement?
An artist’s statement is NOT a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards, a summary of exhibitions, or a catalogue of works. It is not insignificant and should not be hastily written. It is not difficult to understand, pretentious, irritating, or (gasp!) laughter-provoking.
Why should I write an Artist’s Statement?
People who love an artist’s work generally want to know more about the artist. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about your art. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you do increases, and they have more reasons to take your work home with them. The artist’s statement is therefore an effective marketing tool, building a bridge between artist and audience. But the artist’s statement isn’t just for them. In putting your art into words, you might find that ideas and thoughts you once had become more concrete. Your writing may open new channels in your mind and take you in new artistic directions. You might discover more about yourself.
What information should be included?
This is personal to the artist, however there are a few questions you might choose to answer:
- Why do you create art and what does it mean to you?
- How does the creation of art make you feel? and what emotions do you wish to convey?
- If the statement refers to a specific piece, why did you choose to represent this piece in this way? What do you call the piece and why? What materials did you use? What are the dimensions of the piece?
- What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
- What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
- How much time is spent creating your pieces?
- How is your work a reflection of you?
- What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
- What is your vision/philosophy?
- What are your goals for the future?
- What are your techniques and style and how do these relate to the medium?
- How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?
How long should it be?
The answer to this question depends on what kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person that gets right to the point, or do you like to tell stories and use your words to paint pictures? The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and makes you happy. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. Several sources recommend an artist’s statement should be approximately three paragraphs (total of 100 words), others say that a statement of up to one page is acceptable.
What kind of language should I use?
Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “art speak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. From a business perspective, the more you can relate to your viewer, the better your chances are of selling your work. Some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion and variety). These terms have the advantage of being art-related without being esoteric and pretentious. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow.
“I cannot put my thoughts to paper”. How to deal with writer’s block?
- The more art you do, the better the artist you become. The more writing you do, the better the writer you become. Here are some suggestions for eliminating writer’s block. Write every day if possible – it takes a few minutes, and nothing is lost. Any writing is good practice.
- Gather your favourite writing materials. Treat yourself to a new pen and a snazzy spiral-bound notebook, or pour yourself a favorite’s hot drink while you sit at the computer. You need to enjoy using your writing materials in order to enjoy writing.
- Allow yourself some uninterrupted time. Turn the ringer on your phone off, and if you’re writing by hand, turn off the computer. Create an environment that is conducive to writing.
- Remove your internal editor. With your eyes closed, visualize your internal editor, the person who censors your thoughts. With your eyes still closed, tell them that you don’t need them around, and escort them out the door or lock them in a closet. Come back in the room and open your eyes. Be watchful – your editor will try to sneak back in and whisper their unwelcome commentary. Remind them to go away while you write.
- Timed writing exercises. Free writing exercises are frequently used to help people learn a new language. They allow for free-flowing ideas, and shut down internal editing systems. Set your timer for 3-5 minutes and write about anything in your stream-of-consciousness. What you write doesn’t have to make sense. Don’t scribble over anything or do any editing of any kind. You don’t even have to read what you’ve written afterwards.
- Against and For. On a blank page (or blank monitor screen), make a table with two columns. Write “Against” and “For” as column headings on the left and right, respectively. Set your timer for 3 minutes, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you don’t need an artist’s statement. Then take a break. Do something else for a while. Come back, set the timer for 3 minutes again, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you need an artist’s statement.
- Talk to yourself. Each time you start working on your art, tell yourself, “I will listen to my inner thoughts and capture them in my conscious mind”. Ask yourself while you are working, “What am I thinking at this moment?”
- Be ready for it when it hits. Have a notebook handy at all times (especially when you’re working on your art) to jot down thoughts as they come to you.
- Talking Art. Imagine you are in your studio (or kitchen), and one of your pieces starts talking to you. Write down what it says, no matter how ridiculous. Limit yourself to 3 minutes.
- Record yourself. Run a tape recorder while you’re working on your art or talking to someone on the phone about what you do.
- Pretend you’re in your own documentary. Record yourself answering the questions listed earlier in this article. If you have a video camera, make a documentary!
- The alien exercise. If an alien were to land in your studio, how would you explain to him/her/it what you do?
The desert island schtick. You are being sent away to live alone on a desert island. You are allowed to bring all your art supplies. They’re a given. But what else will you bring for inspiration? You can only paint so many sunsets and weave so many baskets before you become coconuts. Make a list of 15 things that would inspire you.
- Be a quote collector. Every time you encounter a quote that inspires you, write it down, no matter what it’s about. If you have ever kept a journal or diary, pick out some of your own phrases to add to your collection.
Sentence. Write down words that come into your head. They don’t need to be in the form of sentences until the last stage of writing, when you unlock your personal editor from the closet.
- Reading the dictionary is not just for Scrabble. Peruse the dictionary to broaden your vocabulary. Write down any words that spark your interest.
- PMI. This stands for Plus, Minus, Interesting. This structure is used in teaching to get students thinking cognitively (i.e. thinking about thinking). When you finish a piece, write down one positive thought about the creation of the piece, one negative thought about the creation of the piece, and one interesting (hmmm) thought you had while creating the piece.
Can an artist’s statement change?
Yes! An artist’s statement is a continuous record of his work. Thus, the artist’s statement should be updated at the same rate at which you might update a resume. At best, review your statement each time you create a new piece, to see if your thoughts still hold meaning for you. Review your statement when you experience profound events that alter your creative vision.
Where can I find examples of Artists’ Statements?
Browse the portfolios of artists. There is a wealth of inspiration, so if you’re an artist trying to find your voice in words, you’re more than likely to find something here that will motivate you to set pen to paper.
How to Apply for Art and Artist Grants, Residencies, Funding, Aid and Other Opportunities for Assistance
Generating income from art in the form of either cash or cash equivalents is challenging, especially for artists with unconventional ideas or for those who create art that may not be commercially viable. The art world is one place where anyone who shows talent and promise, marketable or otherwise, has access to various means of assistance including cash grants, residencies, employment or internships, allowances, free or low-cost studio space, art supplies, exhibition space, and so on. The application processes for these types of assistance can be rigorous and competition is often intense. This article serves as a tutorial to provide the applicant with an advantage during the application process.
To begin with, be concise about intentions and goals, especially in terms of the artistic direction and know what you’re trying to accomplish. Having a plan to direct artistic life, career, and objectives facilitates the clarification of the requirements to realise the vision. If you need time to work, you might consider applying to a residency programme. If you require the provision of living expenses while you’re making art, an unrestricted grant may be the best option. Perhaps you require studio space, or maybe travel is involved.
In other words, quantifying needs enables precise focus on which opportunities to pursue, which to avoid (those that may sound good but don’t really serve your purposes), and which organisations to target, non-profits, and foundations whose missions match your art and intentions.
If you have organised your agenda, as well as identified potential opportunities, the most important aspect of any request for assistance is the application process. For starters, read the instructions thoroughly. Not only is it critical to understand and complete all forms according to instructions, it is important to know how that application will be assessed. Whenever speak with someone at the organisation to discuss their requirements and selection criteria. Knowing this, you can prepare your images accordingly. Overall, the more procedural specifics you’re aware of, the better you can maximize the effectiveness of your presentation. It is important to note that not every application and review process is identical, and being able to customize your approach to the organisation offering the assistance is always advantageous.
Good visual documentation, written descriptions, and other relevant details concerning all significant works of your art are equally important to have on hand. Video is advisable if there’s a participatory or mobile element to your art.
Certain organizations prefer to fund innovative concepts for art production that do not exist as opposed to supporting concepts that are in circulation, however, they require that the proposal be supported by the merits of previous work. An organisation financing an idea has to have trust in the artist based on some sort of track record, which in addition to completed work, may include a resume, list of shows or exhibitions, previous awards or grants, and so on – provided they’re relevant to whatever is being applied for.
When taking pictures of your art, avoid glare or reflection from flash bulbs or daylight, nuance your lighting to eliminate uneven dark or light areas, and make sure everything’s in focus, colours are accurate, nothing is crooked, and so on. You might also shoot your work in a gallery setting, not only for purposes of scaling it against an interior, but more importantly, because art looks better displayed in a gallery. Sometimes reviewers look at art first without reading the application, and in some cases that dictates if the application gets read and who advances to the second round of consideration.
Another important point is to always customize your application to the requirements of the organization, non-profit, or foundation. All application processes are different. Minor details are important; ignoring these details can cost the artist his application.
· Always keep your portfolio updated.
· Apply for as many opportunities as possible.
· Read other artists’ proposals, preferably sorry leave ones, to see how successful applications look.
· Be clear and concise in all your answers.
· Don’t include information about every piece of art you’ve ever produced or are currently working on, narrow your focus to the most relevant for the application.
· Make sure that you have a good well-thought-out justification for applying.
· Thoroughly research your project in advance and know what’s required to complete it.
A few don’ts:
· “I need money” or “I need studio space” are not good reasons to apply for assistance.
· Don’t write one paragraph when the application provides two pages. Skimping on information makes you appear lazy.
· Avoid vague descriptions of what you need to accomplish your goals.
· Do not submit template applications.
· Don’t list people as references unless they know you’re listing them.
· Don’t add superfluous materials that are outside the parameters of the instructions.