Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Top Five Artist No-No's for Submitting to Exhibitions

How do you interact with various artist opportunities and calls for entries? How do you think galleries, publications, museums, and other art venues view you, the artist, who has submitted to their opportunity? Many artists assume they are simply a number in a database when it comes to open calls for entries and juried exhibitions. In fact, this is usually not the case, and there are some steps you can take to avoid having a bad reputation associated with your name, or, oppositely, get in good.

"Do you mean that an artist's reputation affects his/her acceptance to the exhibition?" No. Well, not exactly. If the opportunity follows a "blind" juried style, then your reputation and name will have nothing to do with your acceptance. However it may affect your potential for awards and honors, additional opportunities, and extra promotion of your work -- all of which typically happen outside of the jurying once your name is revealed. This is where it's good to know the etiquette of email, phone, and written correspondence with the potential opportunity you plan to submit to.

Here's the top five worst things you can say/do to mar your artist reputation when submitting to an artist opportunity:

1. "Can you just do the application for me? Here's my images and resume." - This is basically like saying, "I don't have time for your silly art opportunity, but I just know you'll like my work so much that you'll want to help me any way you can!" While you truly may too busy to figure out the application yourself, that is not how the opportunity host will view you -- it will come across as laziness. If you really don't have time for preparing the application materials required, then this may not be the right opportunity for you, or at least not the right timing in your life. An alternative could be to hire someone to do it for you.

2. "I just submitted my application, and now I'm emailing to tell you about my great upcoming exhibition somewhere else!" If the call for entry opportunity requested your resume, then put that awesome upcoming exhibition information on the resume. If the opportunity did not ask for a resume, then you probably shouldn't send this kind of information as it can be seen as annoying and irrelevant to the call for entry at hand.

3. Adding their email address to your monthly email newsletter list. This happens so frequently that it seems a daunting task to spread the word to artists everywhere about this big no-no. If the person/museum/gallery/magazine did not sign-up for your list, then at least ask before you add. Sometimes they'll say yes, sometimes they'll say no, but asking permission eliminates the likelihood that your message ends up in the spam box harming your newsletter's reputation further.

4. Not saying "thank you" when accepted. Congrats - you received the acceptance letter, meaning your work was found to be a good fit for this opportunity! Why not say "thank you" to the opportunity host and/or jurors? A simple reply to the acceptance email is sufficient, and words of gratitude go a long way to keeping your name in good standing for potential future opportunities that are not juried. Not saying thank you is actually noticed and makes the opportunity host wonder, "Aren't they excited?" or worse "They seem rude, unappreciative, etc."

5. Being a jerk when not accepted. As disappointing as it is and as much as you believe your work was the best fit for this opportunity, don't be rude to the opportunity host because of your so-called "rejection letter." Trust me, that tiny little email with "@#$%! you!" written in it will definitely get your name remembered, but not in a positive light. Avoiding the temptation to lash out can prove more beneficial in the long run. Instead of relieving your anger by writing that email, try writing your feelings in a journal, creating a new piece of art, or sharing your disappointment with a friend.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Art in Music -- Love Songs for the Artist

Love, one of the greatest emotions known to humanity, is often hailed for its good and its bad in all art forms, including music. In continuing the series of art in music, this week's theme is "Love." The songs listed here bring together an intersection of musical genius, art history knowledge, art appreciation, and experiences of love. Enjoy!

The Weepies -- Painting by Chagall 
This indie rock group combines the musical talents of Deb Talan and Steve Tannen -- together the couple form the band "The Weepies." The song is obviously inspired by the duo's personal love. Talking about the night they first met, Talan says, "...we stayed up all night playing songs for each other, drinking a bottle of wine and trading an acoustic guitar back and forth in a tiny apartment." Tannen adds, "That night has lasted ten years so far." The reference to art is in the chorus as they sing, "We float like two lovers in a painting by Chagall." Marc Chagall was a painter of Jewish descent born in what is now Belarus in 1887. In many of his artworks, figures seem to float in dreamlike landscapes and a common theme of love is prominent in his work.

Teenage Fanclub -- Escher
Comparing a relationship to an M.C. Escher artwork, the songwriter states, "I don't know if I'm going up or down with you." I'm certain we've all experience the uncertainty that sometimes comes in love, either in its early stages or after a bad fight. This beautiful metaphor here with the work of mastermind artist Escher is a perfectly fitting way to describe this feeling of doubt and excitement.

Nick Cave -- Something's Gotten a Hold of My Heart
While this song doesn't directly mention any particular artist or artwork, it does reference the art-making practice of painting. Nick sings, "Painting my sleep with a color so bright, Changing the gray and changing the blue, Scarlet for me and scarlet for you."

Alabama -- You Only Paint the Picture Once 
Country fan or not, give this song a listen as it's sure to put tears in your eyes as you think of the years past and the years to come spent with the love of your life. While the entire song speaks about the act of painting, the chorus puts it best, "While the brush is in your hand, make sure it's just right, before the colors dry, you can't change it once it's done, you only paint the picture once." What a poetic explanation of the commitment required in marriage and the continuing effort involved to make it last.

Carlisle Belinda -- Shades Of Michelangelo
"With a stroke of love, on the canvas of my soul, I'm painting a perfect world, with shades of Michaelangelo" repeats the chorus of this dramatic song of hope and endurance. Of course, the mention of the great master of sculpture and painting Michelangelo is what makes this song an artful one. He's, of course, best known for his David sculpture and the amazing mural of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

Semisonic -- Sculpture Garden
When you're in love it seems that time slows down and yet, at the same moment, there is never enough time. All you can think about is spending every second with him/her. This songs speaks to that other-worldly sense of awe and beauty found in each moment of being in love. In reference to art, the singer describes the soft night and aesthetic features of a sculpture garden he's walking in with his love.

Stay tuned for more "Art in Music" posts...

In researching the musings of various musicians about the topic of visual art, I found songs including mentions of art are somewhat limited in quantity, yet profoundly inspiring and memorable. I chose to sort my findings according to a few common themes and then present a review of each group on the following schedule:
  • ODES (Part 1) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- June 8 (4 songs)
  • LOVE songs, some hopeful and others confused, referencing art -- July 6 (6 songs)
  • HUMOROUS songs about art or specific artists -- August 3 (5 songs)
  • BIOGRAPHIES of specific artists' lives -- September 7 (3 songs)
  • ODES (Part 2) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- October 5 (4 songs)
  • BALLADS of heartbreak, using art as a metaphor -- November 2 (3 songs)
  • REALISTIC narrations of pain, hope, struggle, and life, presented with references to art -- December 7 (5 songs)