Grants: Getting Started

sign here please

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.

Email: What to Do if Your Email Has Been Hacked

No discussion of email would be complete without addressing the issue of hacking. This is when someone takes unauthorized control of your internet based account and starts doing unlawful things with it. Usually they send emails in your name. Sometimes those emails ask the recipients to click a link taking them to a website and enter information that allows the hacker to take control of your account.  They can get information that will allow them to go as far as sending similar emails to your contacts, identity theft or sending a virus that will shut down your computer. So beware.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR ACCOUNT HAS BEEN HACKED

1. Make sure your security/anti-virus software is up to date.

2. Recover your account. Go to your account and try to log in. You will most certainly need to change your password because the hacker has changed it. You can do this by using the “Forgot My Password” feature and it will help you change your password.

3. Change all, and I do mean all, of the information that is associated with logging into your account. Your password, your security questions, your pin number if you have one. Changing your security questions, especially, will prevent the hacker from taking control of your account again.

4. Check your “Sent” box. This will allow you to see any mail that the hacker has sent to your contacts or anything that is unfamiliar. Delete those emails immediately.

5. Send an email to all of your contacts letting them know your email was hacked. If they see any strange emails from you not to open them and, most certainly, do not click any links in the email. Not only will this alert your contacts to the fact that your email has been hacked but it will alert the hacker that you’re on to them.

6. This final step is not necessary and it may be hard to find a way to do it but report that your account was hacked to the email or social networking platform you are using. This will allow them to investigate and perhaps prevent it from happening again.

PREVENTING HACKING
There are several steps you can take to prevent your account from being hacked.  You should make this part of your daily business practice of making art.

1. This one should be a no brainer but don’t ever, ever share your password with anyone and I do mean anyone. Even a trusted best friend or a family member. Yes you can trust them in just about anything but do you trust them to know exactly what to do with the information. Don’t take that chance.

2. Be on the lookout for Phishing attempts. No reputable company would ask you to change your password in an email. Not even a financial institution, an email company, a social networking company. They have built in ways of asking you to do that right on their websites. Do not even open suspicious emails, especially if they have an attachment – they could be SPAM.  If they contain a virus it will open up automatically and “infect” your computer.  Even if there is not an attachment there could be a virus.  Spammers who use commercial email services can see who opened their emails and what action they took – if any.

3. Keep anti-virus software up to date always. Hackers are discovering new ways to get in all the time. Anti-virus software companies are constantly on the lookout and finding new ways to prevent them just as fast.

4. Take extra precaution when using public computers – in a library or a cafe. Hackers can store something called Malware (which stands for Malicious Software) in public computers. This will allow them to capture all of your information. Please, please, please do not ever do any banking or financial work on a public computer or a computer that doesn’t belong to you. It is a sure fire way for someone suspicious to conduct identity theft.

5. If you are using your own laptop in a WiFi Hotspot – especially one that is not password protected – be cautious. Hackers can get into your computer through WiFi. I’ve even heard of cases where hackers drive around neighborhoods in cars looking for WiFi spots that aren’t password protected. If you are using a wireless modem make sure that it is password protected. Most modems are now coming with built in passwords so it’s not as much of an issue.

6. Never click on ads in search engines – especially if they say one thing and the domain address/URL says another. For Example: if you see an ad for Target, check the URL. If it doesn’t begin with http://www.target.com you know it’s not an official Target website.

7. Always sign out of your accounts, especially when you are in a public space. If you are doing financial work – like going on your bank’s website – don’t just log out of the account – quite the browser. Some people advise shutting down the entire computer but I’m not 100% sure of this. Again, please keep your financial work at home. Don’t go on your bank’s website in a public space.

CREATING STRONG PASSWORDS

1. Use 10 characters or more. 16 characters is ideal.

2. Do not use information that is close to you. Such as the name of a relative, pet, the year or city you live in. Use something that is not easy to guess.

3. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and punctuation. For example: iLWoprqba@9548.

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

Firewalls
Most computers come with a Firewall built in and/or it comes with anti-virus software. It’s a computer based program that protects your PC. It automatically monitors incoming and outgoing traffic to your computer as a virus preventative. It also prevents hackers or other people from seeing what you’re doing.  This is based on a set of precepts set either automatically by the software or by you.

Anti-Virus Software
This is software that you will have to purchase but it’s well worth the investment and it’s well worth it to take the time to update it when it asks you to. It repeatedly scans your computer for viruses and removes them when it’s detected. It will also prevent them from coming into your computer. The two best anti-virus software programs are McAfee and Norton Internet Security or Norton 360. Some Anti-Virus software will come with a Firewall for extra protection.

FROM THE HACKER’S PERSPECTIVE
Why would someone want to hack your email or your account?  What is the motivation behind it? The most common answer is simply for sport – to get a cheap thrill. It can also be for unlawful reasons – such as accessing bank accounts, identity theft or information gathering.  Hackers are usually sophisticated software programmers.  You can receive a legitimate looking email from a hacker.  It will come from a trusted email service provider or a company.  It may even have the logo and usual format from the company. Such as clothing1@target.com or info@paypal.com

Hackers usually send out a huge broadcast of emails, so they’re not just targeting you. They are looking for anyone who is uniformed enough to open the email and take action. Even just opening the email could cause a problem – a virus could open automatically onto your computer and do one of several things.

MALWARE/VIRUSES
The technical name for a virus is Malware (short for Malicious Software).  It is a general term for hostile or intrusive software.  In addition to the internet or email this can come from being in a Wifi Hotspot or a public computer.  The types of Malware that you may come across include: Worms, Trojan Horses, Ransomware, Spyware, Adware and Scareware.  Here are descriptions of the different types of Malware.

Worms
Software that spreads across a network of computers – without attaching itself to software or an email or an in company message.  It replicates automatically again and again and again.  This has been known to shut down entire companies or even sections of government.  Chances are that you are only on a network of one computer – yours – so you won’t have to worry too much about this one.

Trojan Horses
These are similar to Computer Worms but they don’t self replicate. Typically they are used to cause theft or loss of data and could possibly cause harm to your computer.

Ransomware
Malware that restricts access to the computer that it infects and demands a ransom to be paid to the creator in order for the restriction to be removed.  Some forms of Ransomware simply lock the system and display’s messages intended to coax the user into paying to get the computer working again.

Adware
This is exactly why you should avoid click ads on Search Engines.  It’s advertising supported software that will generate ads in your name.  When you click that ad in the Search Engine the hacker will gain access to your computer.  It will also generate revenue for the hacker.

Scareware
A virus that produces frivolous and alarming warnings and threat notices. They are most certainly fictitious or a useless Firewall or computer registry cleaner. It will also try to increase it’s perceived value by bombarding the user with constant warning messages.

I hope that by telling you about the different kinds of viruses it will send the message home that protecting your computer is key to your success and can save you thousands of dollars.  Sometimes computer stores will charge a ton of money just to recover files.  This is also why you should never leave anything on your computer’s hard drive.  Always use a Flash Drive/Memory Stick.

SOCIAL MEDIA HACKING
One more tip to prevent hacking on your Social Networking accounts.  Be a warm contact always.  This is good not just to prevent hacking but for your business.  A warm contact is someone that clicks like, comments and posts.  In other words, is active. Hackers are looking for cold contacts.  These are accounts that were set up and never touched again.  The hacker will take the same actions that they do on email with the exception that they may tag your contacts in photos you didn’t post, or post something on your timeline.

If you do find a friend who has been hacked inform them immediately and then unfriend them.  The hacker can access your account through them.  As soon as the person resolves the issue you can get back in touch with them.

If your Social Networking account has been hacked follow the same steps as you would to recover an email account.

Hopefully none of this will ever happen to you and if you take the precautions I’ve mentioned going forward it won’t.  I can tell you that my computers have never been hacked and I’ve been working on computers – mostly Macs – for over 20 years.  Besides the fact that hackers don’t seem to be interested in hacking Macs there are great preventions built in.  PC’s are also prevalent in offices, companies and government offices.  Hackers will get far more results with a PC. Therefore, if you own a PC please constantly update your anti-virus software and get total control over your Firewall.

If you take just one thing away from this post, it is to be vigilant and to always be on the look out.  Make preventing viruses and hacking a daily business practice of making art.

 

Social Media: An Introduction

By now you have heard that Social Media is an essential tool that every artist must use in order to be successful. You may be overwhelmed by it. What is it exactly? How can I use it effectively as an artist? What is it for? Will I make money with it? These are questions almost everyone asks.

What Is Social Media?
Put together these two words and you will have somewhat of a definition.

Social
This refers to our instinctual need to interact and communicate with each other. We like to be in groups of like-minded people to share ideas, thoughts and experiences with.

Media
This refers to electronic, digital and paper platforms that we use to connect. This includes magazines, newspapers, fliers, brochures, postcards, phones, television, computers, mobile devices, video, social networking and more.

The thing is that when you put these two words together they refer to media that is specific to creating personal interactions and communications that may or may not lead to various types of relationships. This is now specifically a term that refers to digitally based media.

The prime reason that social media is so effective is that it is built on a 2 way interaction. As a pose to a one way communication. A one way communication is advertising – a newspaper ad, a radio ad, a billboard. It presents your message to the world. The response some advertising might be seen as an invasion. Especially if you’ve ever heard those ads for car sellers with guys screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s annoyingly effective but most of us want to turn it off and will walk in there with a not so favorable review that we’ve determined before we even walk in the door. It might even keep us away.

Social Media is a “conversation” that runs from real time (like Live Chatting) to being available when people have the time (Social Networking, blogging, pod-casting, email, etc.)

One of the prime keys to success with Social Networking is listening and responding. For example on Facebook simply reading the Newsfeed and clicking “Like” and “Commenting.” Being what’s commonly known as a “Warm Contact.” Opening accounts and leaving them static not only alienates your audience but they are ripe for hacking.

Word of Mouth
This used to be person to person and meant that one person would communicate information about you and your art to 20 people because all of their interactions were face to face, or voice to voice (phone). With Social Networking the average person can reach up to 2000 people in a matter of minutes! You can maximize this by staying true to yourself, doing everything with complete integrity. If you don’t, people will see it in a heartbeat. It may surprise you how fast that can happen.

You will create relationships, build trust and be really THERE when people are ready to view your work, because you are listening and communicating in a direct, immediate way. You can turn followers or contacts into buyers and buyers into collectors. They will follow your artistic life, be fascinated by it and spread the word about you. They will even attend exhibition receptions. They will “Like”, “Share”, “Favorite”, Re-Tweet”, “Forward” and more.

That said Social Media is not a magic wand that you will wave and it will take care of itself. It will take a few hours to set up your accounts and then a few minutes a day or a few hours a week to keep up on it. It’s fun! You will create relationships! You will meet people that share your likes and interests.

Before you approach it, however, you should have a strategy and I will address how to go about that in coming posts. Stay tuned!

The Internet: Website Design: Thinking Simply

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Steve Jobs in Business Week, 1998
The main reason visitors will come to your website is to see your art. Therefore making your art the central focus is the logical thing to do right? Not so fast. It takes some careful thinking and planning. You have to think simply. Some websites are about written content but your website should be about images and the best images possible in order to showcase your art. The design around your work should be simple. The temptation is to overpower it with bells and whistles or bright colors or large bold text is very compelling. Don’t succumb! A clean, professional looking website will help to bring you success in a very significant way.
The first step in planning a website is to think about the design of the actual pages. Most artists have an idea of what that should look like because they are focused on their mission. I would like to give you some help by outlining the components of a website page. If you’re doing your website by yourself this will help you tremendously. If you’re using a designer this will help you to direct them. Remember that in most cases a website designer is not a “designer.” They won’t know your art as well as you do and they may not be aware of what is needed for success in the art world. So you need to be a guide and have a strong vision. I will talk about what a visitor will see and the behind the scenes.
The components that are visible on a web page are:
• Banner or Header- the header/logo at the top of the page. This should appear in the exact same place on every page. A common standard is to have this clickable to the home page. More and more websites are doing this and it eliminates the need for a “home” button on your navigation bar. This will be created as an image or a .jpg and images are easily linkable.
• Navigation/Menu Bar – This is the set of links that enables visitors to find things on your website. It can appear at the top of the page under the banner or on the side. More and more websites have it at the top. There is something called Drop Down or Pop Up Menus. This can also be a huge help when categorizing your work.
**Tip: This is where wording and simplicity are all important. You want to be sure that people will click on your website, boosting your search engine optimization. I have seen navigation bars on artists websites that categorize the work by the year. I really, honestly feel that this is a huge cop out. The website probably has a very low search engine rating because the number of hits will be lower. How would a visitor know what to click on? There is probably also a large bounce rate. Visitors that come, see the site and leave without clicking. Categorizing your work by subject or media or something else will mean more to a visitor than almost anything else you do, with the exception of showcasing your art.
• Images – The actual photos of your work. They should always be 72dpi for two reasons. 1. It loads faster because .jpg’s are compressed (see the previous post on the different types of images) and 2. 72dpi prints out rather poorly and will be hard to reproduce, therefore protecting your copyright. Remember that visitors will have short attention spans. If an page takes more than 30 seconds to load they are likely to leave your website. The size is also important. I’ll talk about the gallery pages more in the next post and what your options for display are.
• Text – Words ARE important, see the previous posts on writing. The content of the home page is usually low on words but you can put a testimonial or a quote from an article written about you. You can also put a section of latest news on the home page: a quote from an article written about you, or an upcoming exhibition. Of course, you will also have pages with your artist statement, resume, bio, copyright, contact, links and press. (If you don’t have all of that yet there is no need to worry. Your art is the first reason people come to your website. You can add those pages later.) The fonts you choose are also important. The difference between type used for text, headlines, and banners are viewed differently so it’s important to think about it’s readability when you are thinking about placement. I’ll address design elements in another post.
• Footer – Those are the little words at the bottom of every website that are not necessarily in the navigation bar. They can include copyright, site map and email. These are important because they not only help your visitors but really help search engines to categorize your website. Especially if it leads to the site map.••Tip: One more thing you should add to the footer of every page. Social Networking Buttons. They allow visitors to share the website page they’re on, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc. I am including a link to a website below that allows you to choose those buttons and get .html code that you can simply plug into the code of your website. I always add this complimentary, by default, to every website I create. You don’t want to miss any opportunity for exposure after all.

Favicon That’s the little image that appears to the left in the address/URL bar of the browser. If you go on www.starbucks.com for example you will see their logo right up there. This is a 16 pixel image that can be transferred into a favicon very easily. This can be static or it can move. It may be small but it makes your website look so professional. I always include it complementary when I design a website.
• Title – these are words at the top of the browser – above the address bar/navigation. This is helpful to your visitor because they will know what page they’re on and the content and extremely useful for search engines. In fact, titles rank in importance with meta-tagging and meta-descriptions.
If you right click on any website a menu should come up – this applies to both Mac’s and PC’s – and you’ll see “View Page Source.” Click on that and you’ll see the .html code that makes it possible for the website to be visible. You will see two sections. Head and Body. Sounds kind of anatomical in a way and it is. The anatomy of a website.
The Head text is the content you don’t see. It’s the instructions that will juristic the way the page looks overall. For example: the background color of the page, the default font your page will use, the code for the navigation bar, the alignment of the whole page. You can set these up overall. It will also show what type of code to use. html vs. Javascript, etc. This will also include the Meta Tags (keywords and descriptions) the favicon and the titles.
The Body Code is the part of the website that is visible. The actual words and images. The navigation bar, the footer, etc.
There is one more thing you should know about text and code. It’s called CSS which means Cascading Style Sheets. CSS can be used for much more than just text but this will help you speak to a designer tremendously. For changeable text in the body section of your website you should use CSS. Some programs like Dreamweaver will automatically set this up no matter what. So you can use any kind of text in the body/content area that you want to. However it’s best to cascade that so that if someone viewing your website doesn’t have that typeface on their computer they’ll still be able to see it. For example: if they don’t have Georgia, they may have Palatino and will definitely have Times Roman. A CSS for type looks like this in the code: Georgia, Palatino, Times, Serif.
I’m telling you this because I was once working with a web designer who told me I could only use Times or Helvetica for text. He was wrong. I was completing my first web design class at the time and told him that’s not true. I wanted to use Baskerville – because that’s what the organization used in their newsletters. I told him to use this Baskerville, Palatino, Times, Serif as a cascading style sheet. If I hadn’t been apprised of that I might have listened to him and the website would have been inconsistent with the organizations print materials.
If you remember simplicity and consistency in everything you do – on the internet and off the internet – you will have success.LINKS
Website to create favicons – http://favicon.htmlkit.com/favicon/

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: 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.

Writing for Artists: Creating Space

Did you know that your readers need to take a breath? To stop here and there just to absorb what you’re saying. When you read your work out loud you’ll notice the need to breathe. How much of a stop do you want to give them? Punctuation can help. It can also make your thoughts and ideas really clear and effective.
What follows are definitions of the different types of punctuation, along with ideas and examples of how to use each one. Again, just as the tiniest dot of red can change an entire painting, good punctuation can change the meaning of a whole piece of writing – and that’s exciting.

Let’s talk about “End Marks.” This includes the period, the question mark, the exclamation point and abbreviations.

Period: The most important use of a period is to end a sentence. It is also used in the abbreviations such as Mr., Ms., Dr. etc, and  F.B.I., I.R.S., N.Y., and U.S.A.  Periods (dots) are also used on the internet and should only be used as a separation of an extension (smith.jpg, smith.pdf, http://www.artist.com)

Interestingly enough, previously end punctuation marks separated sentences with two spaces, now the accepted convention is to use one space only.

Exclamation Point: These should be used at the end of an emphatic declaration. It can also be used as an interjection or a command. i.e. What a beautiful sculpture! The show amazed me! That’s an unbelievable color! Be aware that exclamation points tend to be overused, especially on the internet. I find myself doing it a lot especially on Social Networking but I think about it before I hit the return/enter button. When it’s over used it can dilute the effectiveness of it. I try to think about it before and after I put it in.

Question Mark: This seems obvious but… A direct question is followed by a question mark. Generally it is used by itself, without other marks but an exception would be “She said what!?” There are times when  a question mark should be used and questions where it should not:

• Direct Questions – a question that you are asking another person when you are speaking to them or when one person in a narrative is asking another person a question. i.e. “Do you know what happens when you mix red with green?”

• Indirect Questions – usually when one person is talking about something that happened. You should not use a question mark in that situation. i.e. “She asked what would happen if she mixed red with green.”

Other punctuation marks are used in the middle of sentences, to break up a thought or concept, or to extend the space between words. I think of an end mark as a dead stop/breath break. A semicolon is a large stop/breath. A comma is a slight stop/breath.

Comma: The formal uses of a comma are:

• To separate elements in a series. i.e. paint, brushes, pastels, pencils, charcoal

• To connect two independent clauses. i.e. The painting was beautiful, but the lighting in the gallery didn’t suffice.

• To set off introductory elements in a sentence. i.e. Despite the lighting in the gallery, the painting was exquisite and the smallest lines were quite evident.

• Parenthetical elements – depending on how strong you want to offset the comment. i.e. The artist was in the studio, creating a painting, when the curator walked in.

• Colon: use this to mean “what follows” in situations as this:

• Before a list of items, especially after expressions like as follows and the following. i.e. The Julian Easel held just about everything: brushes, all of my paints, linseed oil and there was even a place for my canvas.

• Before a long formal statement or quotation. i.e. The Museum Director made a formal speech: The works of art that you will see here represent the period of Post-war Modern Art.

• In certain conventional situations such as:
• The time. i.e. 4:30 P.M.

• Semicolon: The is an under utilized form of punctuation and is something I’ve come to love recently. Using it also makes your writing more professional and intelligent. A semicolon can also break up a run on sentence. There are different situations to use it in:

• To join independent clauses that are not joined by and, but, or, nor, for or yet. i.e. Over 100 artists showed up for the demonstration; it lasted from 5 to 8pm and there was a reception afterwords.

• Between to independent clauses joined by such words as for example, for instance, that is, besides, accordingly, moreover, nevertheless, furthermore, otherwise, therefore, however, consequently, instead, hence. i.e. Artists always seem to just make the deadline for an exhibition; for instance, we always get at least 50 submissions on the last day.

• To separate clauses that include a comma. I find myself using this one often. i.e. The exhibition included Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; Edvard Monk’s The Scream; Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris; Joan Miro’s Moonbird among many other ground breaking pieces.

Tip: sometimes you can look at a run-on sentence and see where it can break up clearly. Decide how much of a break you want to give your reader and place the appropriate punctuation. As I keep saying, good writing is essential to your success.  So please keep following these posts.  It can make all the difference.

*The definitions of punctuation here are adapted from the following sources

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, An Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 2005.

Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition: Complete Course, Heritage Edition by John E. Warriner and Francis Griffith, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.

•Wikipedia.org

• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/marks.htm

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.

The Artist Statement: A Writing Exercise

The first exercise I will give you is one of my favorites. It involves getting into that place where you are one with the pen and are just letting everything that comes into your mind out. Partly inspired by “The Morning Pages” in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and partly by seasoned writers who simply call it free writing. Tapping into your unconscious and letting it all hang out. Remember that you don’t have to show it to anyone. Don’t worry about editing as you go. You can do that later. If you do edit as you go your thoughts won’t flow. You will begin to wonder if what you’re saying is right and suddenly you’ll find yourself blocked. Almost like writing a diary about your art and your life. What ever is on your mind put it on paper or on the screen-wherever you’re most comfortable.

Sit down before your writing medium. Relax completely and make sure there are no distractions. Choose a pen and paper-I find that the words flow better on paper; you may find the computer easier to write on. Then start. The difference between this exercise and the morning pages is that you have a theme. Your art.

You can even start by saying “I hate this exercise. I don’t know what to say. What the heck should I say about my art….”. Most importantly do not give up. Keep going and if it turns out that you’re not writing about your art that’s okay too. Clearing your mind opens your creativity and your heart. Come back to it later or do this agin and again and again if that’s what it takes. You may begin to really enjoy the process of writing and find that you have something to say.

If you do get something out about your art and you’ve written enough about your art even for the day, sometimes you can get sapped and need to take a 24 hour break, leave it aside for that length of time.

When you come back to it go into a room by yourself and shut the door. Read aloud what you have. Don’t rush through it. Slowly, carefully. Enjoy the words, enjoy the language as it passes through your lips and try to listen. Don’t make any judgments. You may find that it opens up a flood of language that you must put on the page. A great author and activist Maya Angelou inspired that in a podcast I heard from TimesTalks. I’ll link to it at the end of this post. She is so inspiring to me. She said that is exactly what she does to break a writing block and yes, even Maya Angelou faces that from time to time. It clears your mind and makes the voices of self doubt disappear. It’s an amazing exercise and I hope this works for you. Keep following this blog because there will be more exercises and ideas.

The Artist Statement: Getting Started

When I tell artists about writing and how important to their careers it is I usually get a look of dread. How do you put something so visual into words? Artists are not usually articulate about their work, a lot of times it comes from the unconscious. The language is visual so how do you articulate in speech and writing what you are doing?

Many artists also tell me that their grammar is not good or their writing is not good. However, everyone has a story to tell and this is your chance to tell the story of your art. I’m going to give you, here, a few tips about writing.

I used to confuse the artists statement with the bio. The bio is a narrative version of your resume. Pick a few of your greatest achievements and highlight them in your bio. The artist statement is something that answers the questions your viewer may have about your work. It engages them and brings them into a deeper level of understanding. It creates a relationship between you and your viewer. It’s what can turn a viewer into a collector.

I used to be nervous about making an artist write their artist statement because sometimes the art of making art is not really knowing what your doing. Then someone pointed out to me that it can be an exploration, a process that brings the artist into a deeper understanding of what they are doing, who they are and what their direction is. If you are one of those people that hates writing, think of this as an adventure. A discovery if you will and you will enjoy it.

First and foremost remember that writing is a process. In my last job as the Executive Director of Women’s Studio Center we had many writers and I would see their work again and again in our writers forums. They would revise past pieces and bring them in for feedback. Until they got it right. They loved it and reveled in the details. Think of it as creative as making your art and if you can be articulate you will not only succeed but soar.

I like to start with an exercise called free writing. Get yourself into that creative mode where you are one with the paper and let the words flow. It doesn’t matter what you say or how it comes out, don’t worry if the grammar is correct. Just let it out. You can start by saying “I’m stuck, I don’t know what to write. Writing about art is so hard. What shall I say?…” Keep on going and it will eventually come out. Leave it aside and come back in a few days and look at it. Then piece together the good parts or free write some more.

Another great exercise is to have an “art idea party.” Put out your work and some wine and a few snacks and invite some friends over. Ask them to talk about your art. To ask questions and see what they think. It can be a difficult situation to take notes in so you can turn on a tape recorder. (Make sure your friends know that you will be taping it for your own private use first). Ultimately you will want to answer the questions that the viewer has of your art so this is a good way to get started.

Remember that writing is a process and developing your artists statement is an ongoing process. As your art evolves so will your statement. It’s a work in progress but getting the first one out is ultimately important. You will use it in all kinds of applications – grants, fellowships, residencies – and in catalogs, press releases and more. By being in touch with your art and your direction you will know which opportunities to seek out. In the coming posts I will be talking more about the writing process. I love writing so much and want to share some secrets and tips that I have learned over the years. I also want to make the process easier for you and eliminate the intimidation. Writing can actually be fun and inspiring. Your artist statement can be the most inspiring thing you do.