Everest Pipkin's "Hot Art Tips"
From Everest, with love
Some places to find residences/ other opportunities:
Rivet - https://rivet.es/
New media caucus - http://www.newmediacaucus.org/
Trans arts (opportunity aggregator) - https://www.transartists.org/
Creative Capital - look for their monthly roundup - https://creative-capital.org/
Alliance of Artist Communities - https://www.artistcommunities.org/
Funding - https://candid.org/find-funding
Emergency grants- https://www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org/grants/emergency-grants
My very long and somewhat disorganized list of everything I’ve ever found (my gift to you) - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KWIzznlFNs_rQCEzW5ub6ehwaLcwR80xbuOokXwRa_Y/
Here’s the hot art tips:
(Note: I put these together for students focused on computer based practices but some of it widely applies!)
Find your best people/places:
Find your niche:
Where are the places you read things?
What are the conferences that host talks you like?
Look at the cvs of artists you respect- where did they go?
Apply to things that interest you, they will be more oriented towards your work too.
In general, the community you grow with are the people that will make your career in the future.
What to apply for (and is it a scam?)
You do need your work to be in the world, but not at material cost to you.
Many DIY and project spaces are not trying to scam you, they just have no money with which to compensate you.
You should never pay to show work, or apply to a gallery or show that runs expensive-application-fee open calls year-round
Some residencies do charge and are still worth it, including some “important” ones (Mass MoCA, Skowhegan, etc).
My rule - I never pay more than my normal cost of living to do a thing
if I can use a residency for my food/house in a given month and come out even with what I would normally pay for food and rent (about $1000), it’s still good
If you need it, ask for a need-based application fee waiver, many have them, it does not count against you
(if anything, it is helpful to get the extra conversation in before they review applications)
In these calculations, ask yourself what will it give you?
A show, a place to live for a month, food, a stipend, a community, equipment, a place you wanna go... etc
If community is important, look at who has gone in the past, and if their work is meaningful to you. They will be representative of your peers while you are there.
Aka “come here and live and make work for a bit”
I love them- but wouldn’t keep an apartment while I was doing a bunch
(Good for short thinkin vacations if you have a place though!)
They are generally what you make of them, because what they mostly offer is time
Some also offer community and facetime with other folks in the arts
Some are a lot easier to get than others
I often apply to fancy/hard to get ones first, then infill my time with lower key ones those that are a bit of a gimme
these gimme ones are often fabulous and full of amazing people but they generally don’t offer any career prestige, just a cool place to think and work for a while
Sales/pricing (for digital work):
Congrats if you are a digital artist you don't need to think about this.
JK but honestly, kind of? It’s a pretty different thing, there is not a big sales market for digital work...
BUT. I make digital work, and I price by hour.
My rate is $25 - $200 depending (private personal studio time that ends up making a document vs you are a bad corporation who has asked for an installation)
I include my proposal/phone meeting/email time on the project in this cost.
there are time trackers that you can use, I generally just type an x at the top of my project notes for every hour spent and add them up like days on a cell wall, oh no.
I often have a low range (no originals below $400, etc)
I add materials costs on top
(People do this differently, but time is a good metric for me)
60 hours on a drawing, plus $30 for paper and pens? Somewhere in the range of $2-4k.
A 5 hour drawing? $400
My prices have increased over time, but are still pretty low for somebody who has had a good career otherwise. This is bc I don't have gallery representation (which is both good and bad).
It gets complicated with trying to see automation. Most people don't want to buy code but some do.
I sometimes sell work in a more app model, which means you can download my work for like $2. Theoretically, I could be more compensated for this type of thing than selling a single original, but it would take a “hit” which is not, my work, generally
Sometimes I sell work in a book or print model, which is editions of a digital or printed thing, usually from $100.
(Honestly, if you want commercial success in this field, find a gallery that specializes in this kind of digital work.)
BUT regardless, generate invoices that clearly say what you sold, to who, at what value, and with any discounts. (include a line that you don't take returns bc.. yeah.. sometimes folks will try to return? art? ).
You want all this info because it will help with taxes and general records in the future..
"Getting a gallery" usually puts you in a commercial bracket that is different from a more academic or project-based world
You are on their docket because you are an asset, either financially, conceptually, or both
You are often expected to have a show there every few years and in general be producing work for them
They connect you with collectors
Many of whom are "investing" in work that they sell later
Most galleries take 50%
The "Right of First Refusal" - Many galleries include this line in sales, it means you (or them) can buy the work back if a collector decides to sell. Mostly you don't though because you can’t afford it.
What are they?
Commissioned work - make a thing for us, often within set parameters. GET A CONTRACT and 50% down.
Loan - will you loan us a thing for a show? Sometimes a small honorarium, not always. They should pay shipping/install costs.
Gifts - you gift a work to an institution (not a bad way to enter an archive, but they can decline).
You may be asked for gifts/donations. this is an okay way to offload old work for a tax write-off but beware that they can sometimes sell for too low which is not always good. :/
You can always decline to send a gift, but might not be a bad call to offer a small donation instead if you wanna keep up good relations (eg- thank you for reaching out, I don’t have anything in my studio right now, but here is $20, good luck with the fundraiser.)
Keep documentation of where your work is. You may get a tax write-off if they are a nonprofit, so remember what you have gifted at the end of the year.
(Btw - I'm speaking from my own financial situation, which is- I have no debt but also no real tangible resources beyond my education. This may change via your circumstances.)
IMO, spend as much energy developing your paying side gig as you do in the studio
You need a flexible fallback that can travel with you, or lets you take time off - even if it’s just like, transcription or online tutoring or ghostwriting articles or the local coffeeshop with a chill manager or whatever
I do work under a pseudonym that (until this teaching year) was about half of my income
Everyone needs one unless you are independently wealthy or wildly lucky right off the bat, there is no shame in this, it just doesn’t get talked about much.
Pay them, but don't pay much if you aren’t traditionally employed and aren’t making much money
Everything is a business expense
I mean it:
travel for work/residencies
(take the per diem write-off, it’s different per state: https://www.gsa.gov/travel/plan-book/per-diem-rates )
expensive tools (computer, car) - in the asset entry worksheet
people you paid for labor (now it’s their problem lol)
any percentage of driving you did "for business"
Use the real free turbotax (freedom edition) -- > https://turbotax.intuit.com/taxfreedom/
Take good photos and compelling screenshots/videos (I'm not that great at this part)
If you are making big things (not just lots of little ones), consider hiring someone to produce this for you.
If you are only making one-two works per year, you should consider hiring a videographer/writer/whatever you need to fill the gaps in your own skills. This is because it is worth it to present your big projects as well as possible
if you are making lots of small things, invest in your own skills needed to present them best.
Keep track of what you made and where it is, and who has shown it before.
Tailor your proposal to the call specifications
Especially don’t go over page/word count, this will count against you
Respect the time of your reviewers.
Make this as clear as possible.
What you are going to make
What it does
What it looks like
What it is make of
How the audience will experience it
Why you are interested in this material/idea
Why you are interested in the opportunity
How you will make the thing
Other projects you have made that demonstrate your ability to make this one
Your probable timeline
Any renderings/shots-inprogress/past related images
again, SAY WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
you would not believe the number of people who forget to do this after living in art school crit zone for years
cost of making work
cost of equipment rentals for install
yours and hired help
artist fee (at least 20%)
contingency /rainy day funds (10-20%)
Websites - you probably need one.
Clear project documentation
CV/bio/etc are generally available online, but not always.
The more your career develops, the less your website has to say (counterintuitively)
Some folks go for the very minimal, contact info only website- this only works if you have other representation or things going for you.
Generally, in an order like this:
Your name + contact
Shows (solo or duo)
Shows (by year)
Teaching, arts jobs
Residencies (what, where)
You should have a long one and a short one, but many places ask for less than 3 pages! Delete less prestigious/interesting things as it gets over.
Again, not strictly necessary, but useful
They're bad horror show spaces but everyone is a microcelebrity in 2019
The alternative is to move to a big city (the original social media)
You can always pick one and focus on it if you find them exhausting
Find a place your community already uses, and enter those conversations
Consider publishing if you are into this
It doesn't pay well but it pays?
Consider covering art-world stuff for places like hyperallergic or even self-publish on medium or a place like that
It is practice in the language of this space and will make you better at writing about your own work
Expect $50-$300 for an article in total, well below a good hourly wage
Don't DM writers- find the editor or pitchline and write a succinct email
Subject line: "Pitch:, More info here"
Body of email: 1-3 paragraphs of what you wish to write in abstract, links to previous writing that demonstrates your ability to do so (if unpublished, you may attach samples).
This changed my life:
Make a new user account for plugging in your screen/conf calls/interviews
This way you will never be embarrassed by stuff on your desktop/in your search bar/etc
Honestly if there is one single tip to take away, take this one.
Extensive notes per slide, whether or not you read from them. This will keep you from ever freezing on stage with no fallback.
Have your basic 'artist talk' premade that you deviate from as needed.
How to apply for everything without burning out:
I have a folder that contains:
Bio in both third and 1st person, long and short
Artist statements in both third and 1st person, long and short
Documentation paired with blurbs, both long and short
My teaching letter
Old letters of interest (these will need to be updated per call)
Lots of project proposals I wanna make
Sometimes I don’t have time to start a project, but I do have time to write a 1 page document about what I wanna make in the future
These wait in the folder till I either have free time, or someone wants to pay me to make one
Get good at managing your calendar, get good at spreadsheets (you need to track your available time/travel/etc)
Always read your applications with care to make sure you have not left in an old institution name/city (instant rejection and honestly so embarrassing)
Otherwise, internalize that rejections are very very normal and not about you.
I applied to 110 things last year and was rejected from 82 of them- which is a pretty good ratio! But still 82 rejections! That’s like 2 a week!
How to not burn out in general:
Find a schedule that actually works for you, and lets you make things regularly
For me, right now, this is 4 days a week of teaching
2 of prep, 2 of class
One day in the studio
One day on email and side gigs
One day fully off
Not every artist can work on their stuff full time
Internalize that this is okay and normal
For some people it’s pure joy, but it is also work
Being a responsible artist:
How to inquire about the status of an application
Always check their website and the call for response dates
If you are within 3 weeks of the stated dates, don’t email
After a month of being late, you can politely inquire
If they don’t have any response dates, assume a 3-6 month response window
If you don’t hear back, you didn’t get it.
Here is me asking about the status of me on a residency waitlist (that final exclamation point should really be a comma I sound kinda manic):
Write a thank you after a studio visit/residency/conversation
Always follow up, unless it was truly bad and you do not want to hear from them again
This should just be a nice thank-you note (like they gave you a gift! the gift of their time.)
Mention a few specific themes of the conversation you are still thinking on, or a take-away from the space/experience
If it is a space/person dependant on public funding, offer to send photos or a statement for their future grant applications. (Some will ask for this- always do it if they do.)
People should get a follow-up between 2-5 days (think polite first date texting zone)
Residencies should get one within a few weeks after leaving
Sending documents in the mail
If you make a lot of duplicates/low-cost work (zines, etc), always produce an extra 20 or so and send them to your supporters/curators/past residencies/etc
Everyone loves a package in the mail, and it is a nice art object and reminder that you are making things
Write a thank you to a rejection, always:
> Swallow that pride and do it, send a brief but cheerful thank you.
This can be a form letter too. Here are some of mine:
If a place offers feedback (rare), take it. However, do not ask for it unless it is offered- respect their limited time too.
Re: deadlines you're not gonna meet: always email them before they can email you.
This makes you look good, at least in the context of being behind.
Apologize (but not profusely), give an updated timeline, and explain that you are actively working on it and would like to touch base about what they need.
Don't email random artists asking to collaborate/for unpaid work/etc
they will remember you and it’s not good
respect others’ time, especially if you haven’t met them
DO email randos to say that you are an artist and that you appreciate their work for x and y reasons
they will remember you and it is nice!
however, don’t expect them to reply!
Workspace post school:
Your work will probably compress.
Think about what you can make at the kitchen table, at the library, at a coffeeshop, outside
I love the scale of my laptop work but there is a reason I use one, and it is more my lifestyle than a best-case scenario.
Studios are not necessary but are sometimes useful socially
Regardless of if you have a studio or not, have space you can host other artists and curators in
this can be your home
a friend’s studio
a nice park on a nice day
a coworking space
but you need to be able to show folks what you are making in a space you control!
Do you live in a city?
Start or get involved in an arts space
Go to events and be nice
Support your community
Communities can be online, support them too
Honestly this is sometimes hard for me (I get anxious) BUT
it’s been worth it
you only come up as far as your community does
trust that you’ll grow together
Number one important thing:
Be an artist who is you (lol this sounds so self helpy, BUT)
They don't want another ___, they want something new (you!)
If you are burning out/finding your work suffering/etc- back off
Some artists are renewed by doing their work, and others are not. If you are not (or are even are not always!), it can’t also be your hobby and free time.
I need a day off to myself per week, at minimum- everybody will find their balance and it is different for everyone
Get out there and get that support!
So much more - The Creative Independent