How to Apply for an Artist Residency for Photographers, Artists

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Eleven Tips for An Artist Residency Application

Attending an artist residency is an important step in an artist’s creative career.  It’s a place to create new work, focus unencumbered by daily distractions, and interact with other like-minded artists or photographers.

Applying for an artist residency for some can be a hard process.  Most require a brief artist statement, work samples or visuals, and resume.  Some, however, such as Yaddo and McDowell and UCross in Wyoming require letters of recommendations.

Here are eleven tips that are helpful when applying for an artist residency.

Have Faith in What You Want

Start with having faith and believing in what you want.  You deserve to do your artwork, and attending a residency is just another step in fulfilling this.  Although the process can be competitive and stressful, keep focused on completing the application and believing in yourself.  Try to put aside any doubts and stay positive.

Plan Ahead

A common issue for artists or nearly anyone else is procrastination.  Waiting for the last minute is not helpful and can be a form of sabotaging yourself.  Plan ahead by checking deadline due dates every month, and be aware of what could be necessary for an application.  For example, if you know you will be traveling or planning for an upcoming exhibition, get your application ready beforehand.  Also, keep your resume up to date as exhibitions happen, and add new images so you don’t have to scramble.

Have Materials Ready

Some information can be ready before you start.  These include your resume/CV, a generic artist statement, and your visuals.  Often, a residency has specific image requirements so have visuals that you can quickly change or resize.  Also, most of the time I can reuse images, resumes and some project plans that I’ve submitted before with little modification so keep these handy and well organized.

Know The Due Dates

Get extra clear when the application is due.  Include due dates in a calendar program or as part of some kind of computer system to make it easy for you.  Avoid writing things down on paper, if possible: it can get lost, misplaced or forgotten.

Research The Requirements

Know beforehand the requirements of the residency application.  For example, does it require letters of recommendations, a video reel, a composition excerpt, or anything else out of the ordinary.  Make a list of what you’ll need and start getting them ready.

Call and Speak to Someone

Most people don’t do this but this can be the most effective tool: call the artist residency and speak to someone.  What do you say?  Ask questions, such as how many people apply, what are you really looking for, and what makes a successful application.   You’d be surprised how much good, important information you can get by a simple phone call.

Ask for Recommendations, If Necessary

If recommendations are required, ask for them well in advance.  You should give time for your writers to prepare their letters, and you my need to ask several friends or colleagues.  This means that you should have a draft of your proposal ready early to give to your recommenders.  I’ve found it helpful to give them a few bullet points to make it easier for them. The best people to ask are people that know you, so this could be fellow artists, teachers, curators or others.

Read Again the Requirements

Before you sit down and start the application, re-read the requirements again.  I’ve often initially read what was necessary for a residency, but amazingly forgot or simply got it wrong later.  Always look at the requirements again before your start.

Set Aside Time

It takes time to complete an application.  Even if I have everything ready, such as the proposal, the images, and everything else, it can still take an hour by the time I log-in to the system, or print everything out.  If you have all your materials ready, it could take one to three hours; if not, plan on spending five to ten or more hours preparing for your residency application.

Complete the Application Early

Complete the residency application a few days early.  Waiting the last minute might give you an adrenaline rush, and sometimes its impossible to avoid, but since you never know what problems could pop up, complete your application early.  Recently, during Hurricane Sandy, I had to complete an application, and luckily I did it a few days early.

Go on to the Next One

Once complete, congratulate yourself and go on the next application.  Forget about it for the moment, and try to think about what else you can do.  Get ready for the next one!

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