This blog began in the summer of 2015 mainly as a place to share my ongoing experience of applying to artist calls in an effort to get my work out there. From July to December 2015 nearly every Sunday I would publish an article documenting the good and the bad from this venture. Each post was accompanied by the call I was responding to that week, in the spirit of providing an extra insight into my process and hopefully a resource the reader could immediately act upon.
In a way the blog represented the culmination of a two-year process of unprecedented extroversion on my part in reaching out with my work. This activity was fueled partly by a sense of despair at the obscurity I was feeling my work doomed to as well as the realization that the angel I was waiting for was me: I could not afford to wait to be “discovered”. A belief I still have, only, after this experience, it bears a somewhat different meaning.
As these two years of applications came to a close I couldn’t help feeling drained. I needed to slow down. At the end of 2015 I started applying less and less and in January 2016 I broke my rigid application schedule altogether. The fatigue from the whole process expressed itself in a difficulty maintaining my writing regimen as well. Sometime in November I decided a change of pace was in order. Now that some time has passed, behind this need for a break I can see something more than mere fatigue.
I would say that I am a rather positive person, usually inclined to see the brighter side of things. Over these two years I succeeded in maintaining a “constructive” (for the needs of my effort) outlook, even in a hail of rejections. I felt that even though, as I found out midway, most “opportunities” out there are anything but, it was nevertheless worth it to keep up the application schedule, spend the time I spent weeding out the wrong kind of opportunities, finding what was best for me and applying with a system. It seemed like the handful of “gems” made it worth swimming in a sea of lures cast by the parasites of the art world.
I am tempted to say that, in the end, it’s not. Worth it that is. But I won’t. I will say that it is worth it up to a point and for a limited amount of time. Maybe only for one to reach to this conclusion, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned from this experience: Artists cannot afford to wait or look for someone to save them. They have to do that for themselves. I thought I was doing just that when I started applying to artist calls in January 2014, but I was not quite there. We have to defend our right to exist and to do that by applying to “opportunities” is not nearly enough. We have to go further. We have to build our own structures.
The models offered by those claiming they want to “help” artists or create opportunities for them are 9 times out of 10 not sustainable. At least not for the artist. The only ones who can build or propose models designed with the artist in mind are the artists themselves.
Questions like: How can an artist maintain a sustainable practice? How can society sustain its artists? How can an era sustain its spirit as it can live on in the artist’s work? These need to be answered with the artist and the artwork in mind first and not as part of some predatory venture.
Lately I have been spending the time I used to spend on “artist opportunities” on a new project: A new model of art patronage platform with the artist in mind, one that frames the patron-artist relationship outside of the marketplace and the logic of the artist’s “fan base”.
For this I would like to invite artists to take this Art Patronage Platform Survey and help prototype this platform so that it becomes a tool we can use to help ourselves.
For more on the New Art Patronage Platform initiative, please refer here. And if you wish to remain up to date on this effort and be notified about the platform’s forthcoming artist call, you are invited to Like the initiative’s page.
UPDATE: You can subscribe to our mailing list at this page and be the first to know about our open call to artists interested in joining the platform.
Featured Image: Be My Medici logo