Pass It On: 6 Tips to Conduct a Great Studio Visit

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Installation of exhibition, “If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?” at Hunter East Harlem Gallery, Fall 2015, Curated by Arden Sherman. Photo by Natalie Conn

Studio visits are a great way to get your work out into the world, and there can be a lot of pressure to make a great impression in a short window of time. But it’s not always obvious what makes a great studio visit; presenting your best work is only half the battle. For part two of our series, “Pass It On,” where we reach out to artists and curators to get advice to what makes a successful art career, we asked curator Arden Sherman about her experience with studio visits.

Arden is the Director and Curator of the Hunter East Harlem Gallery at Hunter College in New York. She also curates the blog Mise en green, which looks at exhibition photography that features potted plants in gallery spaces.

A studio visit is a great introduction to someone and their practice. However, this type of visit—a show and tell of sorts—can also be laborious, not to mention nerve-racking. For the artist, it’s a lot of pressure to present your work in the best light possible, all the while being smart, charming, and not too crazy, right? For the curator, gallerist, or collector, it’s about engagement, even if you’re totally exhausted and hungover from that uncomfortable awards dinner the night before, as a curator, you still have to be on-point and attentive. Here are my suggestions for artists to make the experience as smooth-sailing as possible.

1. Provide delicious snacks!

A GOOD SNACK GOES FAR! Pro Tip: You’re guaranteed a solo show if you have flavored seltzer on hand.

2. Objects over slides.

It’s always better to physically show us what your art looks like rather than a series of slides on your laptop. Videos are acceptable, but they shouldn’t be too long. Remember, personality and relationships (think, FUN!) typically sell the work as much as, if not more, than the work itself. (This is a keen interest of mine, so I discuss this a lot with colleagues. News alert: friendships actually work!).

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Apply for Fall Residencies with Upcoming Deadlines

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Summer is a great time to take a break from your art practice. But it’s also the time when you want to start applying for fall residencies. Artists never rest! To make your work a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of residencies that offer stipends or are free to attend. From a residency for culinary artists to one for community activists, there’s something for everyone!

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Build Your Crew: Developing Core Supporters for Your Work

Artist Dread Scott leading a Creative Capital workshops.

Artist Dread Scott leading a Creative Capital workshop.

The following post is adapted from artist Dread Scott’s upcoming webinar, Creating a Marketing Strategy, which covers all aspects of marketing your work, including defining your goals, developing effective communication tactics, and building your support community. Below are Dread’s tips for getting your crew of supporters together.

Like everything you do as an artist and a person, your marketing strategy should start with stating your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your efforts? The answers to this question could be “cultivate a funder,” “build an online community,” “sell more tickets,” or “announce a project.” While the objectives vary as much as the creative process, the key is to match your tactics with your goals.

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Best Web Practices: Some Of Our Favorite Artist Sites

Artist and Creative Capital grantee Jen Bervin at work. This image of her is featured on her artist website.

Artist and Creative Capital grantee Jen Bervin at work. This image of her is featured on her artist website.

Your website should be completely dedicated to you and your work. Think of it as a studio visit or a reading where you are not present. A visitor to the site should be able to find all of the information they need – including images of your work (in detail if needed), excerpts from your writing, information about your career, a bio and/or statement, and any relevant press or reviews. They should be able to get press releases or printable images, find your contact information, and learn about your upcoming public events and projects. It is a tool to communicate with your audience as well as allow them to communicate with you. It can also be used to promote the work of fellow artists, social causes, or keep people up to date with your process.

A well-designed, functional website is a great promotional tool for both emerging and mid-career artists. On Thursday, June 16th, 2016 at 7pm EST, artist Sue Schaffner presents her “Website, Blog & Email Essentials” webinar, an overview of best practices for your website, blog, and email marketing and communications. In order to teach by example, we’ve included some of our favorite artist websites and note what’s working.

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5 Best Practices for Launching Your Socially Engaged Art Campaign

Working with several advocates for the decriminalization of sex work, the Center for Artistic Activism took over the controversial sculpture “Perceiving Freedom” in Cape Town. Photo by Steve Lambert.

Working with several advocates for the decriminalization of sex work, the Center for Artistic Activism took over the controversial sculpture “Perceiving Freedom” in Cape Town. Photo by Steve Lambert.

Interested in launching a socially engaged art campaign? Curious how successful artists have pulled it off? Stephanie Bleyer is an expert in community engagement campaigns and founder of the firm Six Foot Chipmunk, where she helps artists across disciplines create strategic plans, raise funds, and reach and mobilize new audiences. On Thursday June 9th, 2016, she will lead the webinar Producing & Funding Your Community Engagement Campaign, an essential for artists’ projects involving social justice, education, public art, or community building. Adapted from Stephanie’s webinar, the following information pairs best practices with action-oriented case studies.

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Pass It On: Curator Lindsay Howard Offers Tips for Artists

"Daisy" by Pascual Sisto, from bitforms exhibition "Temporary Highs" curated by Lindsay Howard

‘Daisy’ by Pascual Sisto (2016) HD video, 7:02, loop. Image courtesy of Pascual Sisto, from bitforms exhibition “Temporary Highs” curated by Lindsay Howard

No artist lives in a vacuum. Even though the art world is increasingly competitive, it’s possible to share helpful information about how to make your art practice succeed. That’s why we’re starting a series called “Pass It On,” where we ask people to share what has worked for them to get ahead in the art world. We’ll hear from artists and curators in all mediums including digital, visual and film, as well as all around the country.

For our first post, we hear from independent curator Lindsay Howard, who was on the selection committee for Creative Capital’s 2016 Emerging Fields category. A new exhibition she curated, entitled Temporary Highs, will open at bitforms gallery in New York on June 2ndand remain on view through July 31st.

Your gallery works for you, not the other way around. They’re there to offer guidance but ultimately you “own” the decisions around your work, which means educating yourself on materials, fabrication techniques, marketing and brand development, the art market, and who’s who in the collector world.

Add influential curators, gallery directors, and collectors to your mailing list. We want to know what’s on your mind, what’s happening in your studio, and what shows you have coming up. I appreciate receiving the occasional email blast because it reminds me of an artist, and keeps them fresh in my mind for exhibitions, commissions, and interviews.

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New Residency Opportunities For Artists and Writers

An artist at The Headlands Center for the Arts. Image Credit: Headlands Center for the Arts.

An artist at The Headlands Center for the Arts. Image Credit: Headlands Center for the Arts.

Sometimes the resource you need to create is a good bout of uninterrupted time, which in our ceaseless schedules can become a luxury—costly and elusive. Residencies and grants reinvigorate neglected practices and can provide the final push for an ambitious project. We’ve scoped out some opportunities for artists and writers to find solitude and support all around the country. The deadlines are approaching soon! 

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The Future of Arts Blogs – Arts Blogging, Part 3

Nik Hanselmann's "Bodyfuck," as written about by Daniel Temkin in "BodyFuck: gestural code"

Nik Hanselmann’s “Bodyfuck,” as written about by Daniel Temkin in “BodyFuck: gestural code”

When blogs first started to become popular, they offered a unique opportunity to share personalized, more inclusive forms of expression. There was a sense of freedom with the platform: you didn’t have to be a known writer to publish, and you didn’t have to conform to editors wishes, or a publication’s standards. In the art world, blogging still maintains this prestige. As artists offer new ways of seeing the world, blogs allow writers to express and describe the different ways this reframing actually manifests itself.

As the open application of the Arts Writers Grant Program, draws to a close on May 18, we asked past awardees in the blog category to offer their perspectives running their own blogs. I have been talking to Daniel TemkinKate AlbersSharon Butler and Gelare Khoshgozaran & Eunsong Kim about what they think of the future of arts blogging.

Daniel Temkin: I think this is a great time to be writing about art online, especially working on a specialized blog like mine. Esoteric.Codes has an esoteric subject—there’s a sense of early-Web-utopianism when those ideas resonate in other parts of the world. At the same time, posts can inspire articles in mainstream press such as Wired (like my post on BodyFuck) as others

Sharon Butler: At first, we were all independent bloggers. Then a couple of structural changes occurred. Some bloggers, like Hrag Vartanian and Paddy Johnson, hired staffs and writers and grew their blogs into online magazines. Furthermore, mainstream media outfits like NY Observer, ArtNews, and NY Magazine, discovered the blog format and began providing online content outside their print editions. Both of these developments have expanded and entrenched art blogging as a media format and made it more sustainable. Of course, many independent bloggers left to pursue other opportunities – for instance, Carolina Miranda is now at the LA Times, and Andrew Russeth is a co-editor at ArtNews – while other bloggers just lost interest when the blogosphere became more corporatized. I’ve kept Two Coats of Paint going because it’s a key element of my art practice, but also because I think there’s a need for more arts writing rather than less. And it goes almost without saying that I enjoy it.

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Envisioning New Futures: Steve Lambert and Stephen Duncombe on Artistic Activism

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Steve Lambert and Stephen Duncombe in North Carolina.

Steve Lambert and Stephen Duncombe of The Center For Artistic Activism help artists make political art work. For them artistic activism is more than just a descriptor for certain types of art. It’s more than a tactic. They see it as an “entire approach: a perspective, a practice, a philosophy.” They will be leading a new workshop in Creative Capital’s New York offices on May 23rd, where artists will learn how to use their creative practice to organize communities, speak truth to power, and make more engaging and impactful artworks. We talked to the pair about their work, their critical inspirations, and the artistic activism they see in the world.

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Getting Your Arts Blog Off the Ground – Arts Blogging Part 2

Daniel Temkin - Glitchometry Triangles #1, on display at NADA Art Fair with Transfer Gallery

Daniel Temkin – Glitchometry Triangles #1, on display at NADA Art Fair with Transfer Gallery

So, let’s say you have established your blog name, and you’ve honed in on what type of art you’re going to write about. What comes next? Maintaining an art blog has its rewards, but if it’s your own blog, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own. Who is your audience? Is there a community of other arts bloggers that will share their processes and lessons learned? What’s the pay off?

As the Arts Writers application is open through May 18, I decided to focus on the world of arts blogging. As you saw in Part 1 of this series, I spoke to arts bloggers Daniel Temkin, Kate Albers, Sharon Butler and Gelare Khoshgozaran & Eunsong Kim about their individual sites. In Part 2, I asked them what they have learned in their experience of running their own blog, and if they had any valuable insight to writers just starting out.

Sharon Butler: Ten years ago, the art world and mainstream media were dismissive of blogs and bloggers. But I quickly realized that blogging tools could give unrepresented artists and unpublished writers a voice in the critical conversation. I also learned that posting frequently and writing compelling content were the best way to develop an audience.This past year, I decided that in order to keep publishing, I would have to make more focused and forward-looking financial choices. Rather than, say, seeking a Guggenheim, this time around I decided to apply for fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas and start a fundraising campaign.

Once my sponsorship application was approved, I designed some Two Coats of Paint tote bags and launched the campaign. Over 200 readers stepped up, premier contributors got their tote bags, and I met my goal. Now I’m getting some IT professionals to overhaul the code, archive over 1,300 posts, and migrate away from the free Blogger platform that I have used since the beginning.

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