Grants: Getting Started

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Writing A Grant

Grants are not only a great way to fund your career but they can give a serious boost to your résumé.  Think about it.  If someone is willing to give you money towards your art that’s a huge endorsement.  No matter how big or small the grant it’s definitely a good for your career.  Also remember research, following directions to the letter and good writing are the keys to success.

The first step is understanding the kinds of grants available to you.  There are two basic kinds.  Grants for individuals and grants for organizations.  Naturally the amount of money given to an organization is larger but you can have access to that through Fiscal Sponsorship.  A non-profit organization will allow you to use their credentials and information to apply for a grant.  I will go into this in a future post.  Until you have a Fiscal Sponsor you should apply for grants for individuals.

There are categories of grants.  That is grants given to the arts, social causes, minorities and women.  It is important to look for grants under the category that comes closed to your needs.

There are several kinds of grants to look for as well.

• Unrestricted Grants – a grant where they hand you a check and say “go do your art”.  There is no designated way this money can be spent.

• Project Grants – grants for a specific project that you will carry out – usually in a designated period of time.  I.E. a grant given for an exhibition in which the art is made and displayed within a year.

• Travel Grants – grants given to fund travel from one place to another.  I.E. You have a residency in France but don’t have the funds to get the plane ticket.  You can seek out this type of grant.

You will also want to look at the geographic reach of a grant.  Some funders will only look to seek artists in their local area or region.  Make sure you know what that is before you apply.

Remember that research is really the foundation of your success and besides looking online the Foundation Center is the best place to go.  They have libraries in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Atlanta and Cleveland and they are online.  Every foundation in the world has to give information to the Foundation Center.  Check it out: www.foundationcenter.org

In the next post we will talk about the types of funders out there and why they give to the arts.

Good writing is also the key to your success.  The Artists Objective has a proven track record helping artists achieve success in this area.  If you are feeling overwhelmed we can break it down for you step by step, edit and get that grant – customized exactly to your needs.  Please visit our website at: http://www.theartistobjective.com/coaching.html#grants   We’re here to help you find your solution to success.

Writing for Artists: Writing Prompts

I recently came up with these for an exhibition and thought they might be useful to you. The artists were asked to write about their pieces. Several of them asked for help so I wrote this. You will invariably be asked to write again and again about your inspiration for a specific piece, an artist statement, a statement for a particular exhibition, etc. Use these prompts to inspire you….

All of them are free writing. (You can read more about free writing in a previous post). Get your favorite writing materials. Sit down in a quiet place or take yourself out for a Chai at Starbucks….:-)

1. Place the artwork in front of you. Set a time limit of 10 minutes and write, only picking up the pen to separate words. Don’t hesitate to gather your thoughts or get grammar or punctuation right. Write whatever comes into your mind. It’s okay if you stray into different topics. When you realize it bring yourself back to your work.

2. Place the artwork in front of you. Make a list of words that come to mind about the work and the creation of it. Read them out loud and look them up in the dictionary and then pick one, based on the definition in the dictionary write – no holds barred and no stopping – about that word and how it relates to your art.

Don’t edit it right away. Put it away for a day or so and then come back to it. Pick the words, sentences, paragraphs that speak the most profoundly to the piece and put them together. Almost like a word collage. Then through editing merge them – make it smooth. If you still need help, contact The Artists Objective. We have editing services and can sit down with you and get you writing in no time. It’s fun, it’s creative and it will help you become successful!

Writing For Artists: The Resumé

The questions I hear again and again are who looks at an my resume? What is it’s value and why should I even create one?

An artists resume has tremendous value for artists in so many ways. The primary purpose is to gauge the value of your work. It’s what collectors and auction houses might refer to as “Provence.” The more you do and where you do it can bring tremendous value to your work; exhibitions, grants, residencies, fellowships and most importantly collectors. For example: if you receive a prestigious grant a commercial gallery or museum juror is more likely to look at your work and take you on. I like to call the process ladder climbing. You’ll gain with every step.

A resume is also a personal record. A place for you to refer to again and again to see how you are doing. To take a moment, from time to time, to access and bask in your achievements. Don’t be afraid to list everything. I’ve seen resumes that are 10 pages or more. That said, do not be afraid to create a resume if you don’t have that much on it yet. You have to start somewhere after all. It will grow and when it does you will have a concrete record. (Don’t forget to applaud yourself every step of the way).

Remember that a viewer, gallery or juror will always look at your work first. They will look at the Artists Statement secondly, and your experience/resume third. It is important to have all three as perfect as possible. If your materials are well presented and clear you will be more likely to achieve success. In the next post I’ll tell you where to start so please stay tuned.

Writing for Artists: A Few More Symbols

It occurred to me that after my last post that I’d forgotten three very important punctuation marks. The bullet point, the slash and the accent (back and forward). These will help you make your writing – and your resume especially a lot clearer.

The Bullet Point (•) – is a typographical glyph used to define items in a list. It is probably called the bullet point because of it’s resemblance to a bullet but it can take several forms. A circle, a triangle, a square, a diamond or an arrow. Bullet points are used most commonly in the following types of writing – technical, reference works, notes and presentations. They will be most effective in a resume where you will be listing items like exhibitions, press, etc. Here is a general example of how they are used:

Paintings
• Drawings
• Photographs
• Collage
• Assemblage
• Sculpture

Compare it to this and you’ll see how the bullet point makes things much clearer by indicating a separation.

Paintings
Drawings
Photographs
Collage
Assemblage
Sculpture

The Slash ( / ) The most general use of the slash is a shortcut for “and”. For example: painter/sculptor It can also mean either/or. Another use is as a line break for poetry. For example:

“The naming of cats is a difficult matter/it isn’t just one of your holiday games/you may think that at first I’m as mad as a hatter/when I tell you a cat must have three different names.” *T.S. Elliot, The Naming of Cats, Old Possums Book of Practical Cats

It is also used in abbreviations. Such as: w/o for without

To address internet issues…
When used in a URL (means Universal Resource Locater or website address) it can mean a separation of a file. Such as http://www.theartistobjective.com/listings/artistindex.html

It can also mean the end of a URL
http://www.theartistobjective.com/

The slash is also used in mathematical type for two things. (I know this is about art but…) It’s used for percentage symbols (5/0%”), in a fraction 1/2″ or to indicate the division symbol (10/2 = 5).

The Accent – There are two major accent marks you need to be aware of . The accute accent and the grave accent.

• The accute accent (´) is a forward mark placed over a vowel, usually an e. An “e” would normally be pronounced “eee” but if an accute accent is placed over it then it would be pronounced as if you were saying “A”. I.E. Resumé.

• The grave accent (’) is a back mark and is usually placed over an e to mean that it is pronounced separately. Ed at the the end of a word with a grave accent would be pronounced separately. (paint-ed vs. painted)

There are other marks that are technically called accents or diacritics but these are the most commonly used. Essentially what they all mean is that there is a difference in pronunciation in the English transliteration of a word.

In the next post I’ll go more into formatting for your resume. Stay tuned!

Writing for Artists: Getting it Write

This post will lean more towards your resume – which I will begin to discuss in the next post – discussing punctuation that is essential in formatting and consistency. A must when listing your successes and achievements the right way. These forms of punctuation, of course, refer to narrative text as well (artist statement, bio, etc).
The Apostrophe: This can be confusing but I hope that this clarifies things for you.
An apostrophe is used for….
1. To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add an apostrophe and an “s.” Picasso’s painting, O’Keeffe’s Black Iris, Giacometti’s sculpture
2. To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe
i.e i.e. Diane Arbus’ photograph, Thomas Eakins’ Biglin Brothers Racing, Edgar Degas’ Ballerina, Eva Gonzales’ Portait of a Girl Holding a Sparrow
Note The few plural nouns that do not end in s, form the possessive by adding the apostrophe and a s just as singular nouns do. i.e. women’s studio, children’s art
3. Personal pronouns in the posessive case (his, hers, its, ours yours, theirs, whose) do not require an apostrophe.
Incorrect: I thought the paint brush was her’s.
Correct: I thought the paint brush was hers.
Incorrect: You have seen the museum at it’s best.
Correct: You have seen the museum at its best.
Incorrect: Do you know who’s sculpture this is?
Correct: Do you know whose sculpture this is?
4. When two or more persons posssess something indvidually, each of their names is possessive in form. i.e. Picasso’s and O’Keeffe’s paintings
5. The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year etc., when used as possessive adjectives, require an apostrophe. Words also indicating an amount in dollars or cents (when used as possessive adjectives) also require an apostrophe.
Singular: a minute’s work / Plural: five minutes’ work
Singular: a day’s work / Plural: three days’ work
Singular: one cent’s worth / Plural: five cents’ worth
6. To show where letters have been omitted, or when you are bringing two words together such as: don’t (do not), won’t (will not), it’s (it is).
7. To form the plural of letters, numbers and signs and of words referred to as words.
i.e. Mississippi is spelled with four s’s, four i’s, and two p’s.
Instead of a three and an 8, she wrote two 3’s.
How many +’s in that piece of writing?
Count the number of and’s in that paragraph.
The Hyphen: Please note that there is a difference between a hyphen and a dash. The dash will be explained below. A hyphen is….
1. Used to divide a word at the end of a line. Make sure that you use the hyphen after a syllable – such as (contest>con-test). This especially helps you break up a “widow.” Writing in some ways is visual as well. A widow is dangling single words or three or four words that stand out at the end of a paragraph.
2. Used with compound numbers. Such as: twentyone to ninetynine.
3. Used with prefixes such as ex-, self-, all- with the suffix -elect, and with all prefixes before a proper noun. exdirector of the museum, selfimposed, allstar, Senatorelect, etc.
4. Add to a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies (see the last post about adjectives and modifiers). Examples: A secondstory studio, doortodoor selling.
5. Used to prevent confusion or awkwardness. re-collect (prevents confusion with the word recollect). reform (prevents confusion with the word reform)
The Dash is….
1. Used to indicate an arupt break in thought . i.e. He might and according to plans, should have painted the corner of that canvas again.
2. To mean namely, in other words, that is, etc. before an explanation.
the teacher had it in his power to prevent the disruption he could have asked everyone to sit down.
In this case, the dash means “that is”.
Parentheses: Used to enclose incidental explanatory matter which is added to a sentence but is not considered of major importance. For example:
Retired City Councilman Peter Vallone, Sr. (Astoria, New York) is a member of the arts and the city committee.
The exhibitions included several artists (see the catalog) who’s work is considered Post-war Modern.
Tip: Very often commas, dashes and parentheses are interchangable. It depends on how much you want to offset the meaning of what you are saying. Commas and dashes are used more frequently than parentheses.
She said, by the way, that she really liked the art.
She said by the way that she really liked the art.
She said (by the way) that she really liked the art.
Brackets: In ordinary writing you probably won’t use this but I wanted to add it just so that you are absolutely sure when to use them and when not. They cannot be substituted for parenteses. Brackets are used to enclose explanations within parentheses or in quoted material when the explanation is not part of the quote.
i.e. Picasso accepted the award by saying “I am honored by it [the award] and am aware of the prestige, value and responsibility associated with it.
Quotation Marks vs. Italics and Underlining: basically these are all interchangeable when you are using a title of an article, publication or book. Most common is to use quotation marks but I think it looks much more sophisticated and clearer to read if you use italics.
i.e.
Dale Chihuly: A Celebration by Rock Hushka.
“Dale Chihuly: A Celebration” by Rock Huschka
Dale Chihuly: a Celebration by Rock Huschka
You decide.
Use quotation marks to offset something that someone says in a narrative form.
Picasso said “The matter of my exhibition at the Salon is completely up to Gertrude Stein.”
Use quotation marks to offset slang:
She said the artist was “looney.”
or
She said the artist was so talented that he was “over the top.”
You can also use quotation marks to bring importance to something.
i.e Her work is “amazing.”
That formally ends the section of this post on grammar. I hope that you don’t think that it’s boring. It should help you become a better writer.
The bottom like is “Yes you can write!” You can speak right? It’s just a matter of knowing how to format it when you’re writing so that it comes across properly and as an added benefit you will become even more articulate about you work.

Maya Angelou

“There is nothing more agonizing than bearing an untold story within you.”

The Artist Statement: A Sense of Purpose

Envision yourself walking into a gallery and you are absolutely, positively fascinated by what you see. The titles, media and size are not enough. They are only a clue to the concept. The art is really well executed and thought out. You are either not sure of what it really is or you want to be sure that you get it. You want to know more.

So you walk up to the desk where the gallery director or an assistant is sitting and start asking questions. About the artist – they can only tell you about their experience with them. What made them decide on that particular artist – they can answer that. Then you ask about the art. About the concept, how the artist did it, what they were thinking and feeling at the time. You get either cursory answers or a blank stare. What to do?

You go home and get on your computer. Search for the artists name and find a website with more art, a resume, a bio and contact information and not much more. The web is about instant gratification, you get bored and lose interest.

Consider this alternative scenario. Same compelling exhibition, in the same gallery and you are drawn in, breath taken by the art. You go up to the desk and start asking those very same questions. The person behind the desk jumps up, comes out and starts speaking enthusiastically about the artist and their process. You almost can’t get a word in edgewise. It draws you in, as if you were in the studio with that artist. You ask to see a price list. You see that you can actually afford a print that moved you and you must have it. Not only because the art was beyond amazing. Not only because it would look amazing in your living room and you’d enjoy seeing it every day. Because the artist is so compelling. Done! Sold!

The print arrives and you put it on the wall. The experience of the gallery visit was so thrilling that every time you look at the piece the very same feeling comes up in your heart. You must have more. Done! You are now a collector!

Eventually you meet the artist, get to go to their studio often, wind up going to a chique bar and have a drink with the “in crowd.” Life just gets amazing!

There you have it. The power of the Artist Statement. The power to change lives. You have given the gallery the power and knowledge to sell your art. Galleries love a well written artist statement. It’s not just the commission and the sale. It’s the involvement in changing a life. Yours. I actually heard a gallery owner say that he wanted to help as many artists as possible. If you give him the tools, he’ll sell your art. The Artist Statement provides the gallery the information they need to turn a viewer into a buyer.

The Artist Statement is also used for a press release or press packet. I will go more into depth when I address reaching the press another time. A good Artist Statement is an integral part of the press packet. It also gives the writer of the press release the information they need to appeal to an editor. (An editor is the one who decides whether a story is good enough to send a reporter out.) It gives the journalist the information they need to write not only a good article about you but a compelling one. The kind of article that makes your event, exhibition, art and even you – the artist – a must see.

The Artist Statement helps you when writing grants, residencies, fellowships and all kinds of applications. By getting through the process of writing your Artist Statement, you will become more articulate about your work and become a much better writer. You will be able to knock out those applications with ease. By being more in touch with what you are doing you will also be in a better place to decide which opportunities overall suit your work the best. More about grants and applications another time.

Lastly, addressing websites and the internet. Effective exposure on the internet includes statements about what you are doing. It can turn a visitor into a “click” or a hit. It can make the difference as to whether they click on your website on a search engine. They are more likely to become a follower on social networking sites. They can become a collector or buyer and make a recommendation for you.

I hope that I haven’t put pressure on you by saying this. I only want to express the importance of completing your Artist Statement. I also want to get you excited. Writing, fiction or non-fiction, is fun! Enjoy the process.

A word about the next series of posts. They will be about grammar. Groan! you say? You are probably having bad memories from high school English class. The teacher who beat the importance of a period into your head and those boring textbooks. I say English teacher and textbooks be gone! Empowerment and a stronger artistic voice come in! I hope to take away all that boring high school garbage and the confusion or the mislead feeling that you are confused away, and show you how good and effective a writer you already are. How you can strengthen the voice you already use to speak. Grammar is simply a tool. Think of a period the same way you would think of that dab of paint carefully placed on the canvas making a painting not only good but brilliant. Not only will this help you to edit better, but it will help you understand the series of posts following that: The Resume. Stay tuned!

The Artist Statement: The Power of Words

Artists are so visual that they often overlook the power of words. Believe me when I tell you that words – the way they are written and/or said – ARE important. You CAN harness that power and use it to express yourself in a unique and effective way. To connect, create a bridge between you and your viewer. A bridge that might just turn a viewer into a buyer and a buyer into a collector.

If you are doubting what I’m saying about the power of words then think of this. Remember the saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me.” It’s definitely not true. In fact, words can do lasting damage. This sounds negative but have you ever wished that someone had used one word in place of another because it would have alleviated the pain they caused or it wouldn’t have been painful in the first place. Words can go straight to your heart. They can change a meaning of everything you just said. They can change the tone of a whole book – and require the author to go back and revise the entire book. Similar to a painting. One dot of red may change the whole thing and require you to go back and rework the entire piece.

As you can see I love words. Editing has become like a creative crossword puzzle to me. Here is an exercise that incorporates using the power of words….

After you have a solid piece of writing, it answers all of the questions that a viewer may ask and you think you are satisfied then go into a room and read it out loud. Does it flow off your tongue? Does it feel good to say? Are there any words or punctuation that you stumble over? A sentence that doesn’t flow properly or convey exactly, exactly what you mean. One word can interrupt the flow of an entire sentence, an entire piece of writing.

Two of the most powerful tools I have found are the Dictionary and Thesaurus. Look up just one word and read the entire definition and suggestions of other words to use. You’ll be amazed and find things you never thought of before. Here is an example:

Inspiration: in(t)-spe-‘ra’-shan, – (,)spi-/in (14 century) 1.a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate with sacred revelation. b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions c: the act of influencing or suggesting opinions 2: the act of drawing in: specific The Drawing of air into the lungs. 3a: the quality or state of being inspired. b: something that was inspired. 4. an inspiring agent of influence.

This can also be a marvelous tool if you feel stuck. Here is another exercise:
Write a list of words that describe your art and look them up in the dictionary or thesaurus one by one. It opens the doors to your mind and your heart and suddenly the words will just flow. Start to free write about what each word means to you if you’re still stuck after that.

Another exercise is to have someone else read it out loud to you, after you’re completely finished with it. As they read it you will see if they understand the meaning of what you have written. You can also see if they stumble over words or sentences. Listen carefully. Having more than one person read it is also good because it will let you see who your artist statement resonates with.

Remember that an artist statement is never really finished. Your process and technique will change. You really should review it every three to six months and see if it needs tweaking. If you have followed the steps in the previous posts and in this post congratulations! You have completed your artist statement. Getting over the hurdle of writing your first artist statement can be the hardest thing but once it’s complete you know you will have something you can really use. It will be easier to change and keep up with. You will be able to talk and write about your work with confidence. You will be able to write grants, fellowships, residencies, press releases, exhibition proposals and so much more. Galleries like artists who can write and who can talk. This is the second major step to your success.

The Artist Statement: Writing for the Senses

One of the most important questions, that can help your viewer get into your mind and your heart, is how does the act of making art make you feel. Is it a wonderment. an excitement, calming, peaceful. What’s going on in your being? What does it do for your soul?

Someone with a passion for art, who doesn’t have the ability to make it, cannot conceive of why you do it and how you feel. If you can touch them in that way your statement will ultimately be successful. Walk them into the studio with you.

The best way to do this is to bring the five senses into your writing. That is Sight, Smell, Touch, Feel and Taste. Okay, maybe the last one doesn’t exactly apply to art making. Writers will also tell you to show not tell. So describe what your studio looks like, how it smells and feels. Is it the best place in the world for you to be in? Why? If you’re a painter, for example, where are the paints in your studio and why? What do they feel like? How do they smell? What is your surface and why do you use it? What effects are you hoping to achieve?

That said, you don’t want to cross that line of telling the viewer how to look at your art. That’s crossing into the art historical, curatorial description of your work. You want to tell them what you see in it, not what you want them to see.

Try this exercise. Get a piece of paper and your favorite writing tool. Get into that relaxed creative zone. Then write about your studio. Imagine that you are someone else walking in the door and describe every detail of what it looks like, feels like, smells like, etc. You will write a lot, and don’t worry about that. This is primarily to get you in touch with showing and not telling. In touch with the senses.

One more tip, beware of using too many adjectives. Be aware of what adjectives you are using and why. A general rule is to not use more than two adjectives to describe something but rules are meant to be broken. The repetition I described in the last post may apply to this.

As always have fun with this. Espousing freely helps you find your artistic voice, your writer’s voice and can give you a lot of confidence.

Have fun with this exercise.