Studio view of Marisabel Gonalazes's studio with large-scale painting. See more of her work on Discovery.
Congratulations! You have been awarded a professional art opportunity.
But now what?
For many of us, there’s so much focus on preparing for and applying for artist opportunities, not much preparatory thought gets put into what happens immediately after you get a ‘yes’ after a whole chorus of ‘no’s’.
First thing, make sure you actually accept your award in writing.
Respond to the coordinator’s email and thank them even if they weren’t on the jury: everyone likes being thanked, and this is your first impression.
If your acceptance email included details you have questions about or would like some flexibility with, ask them immediately or follow up with a call after accepting the award in writing. If for any reason you can’t accept the opportunity anymore—perhaps you already accepted another residency, or the work in question has sold, make sure to let the coordinator know as quickly as possible.
Complete any necessary simple paperwork.
Usually with the acceptance email or letter, there will be more information about what is required of you next. It might even be attached to the email.
Make sure you follow these directions and return everything as quickly as possible. If the email says more details are coming soon, put a date in your calendar to follow up in case you don’t hear back from them with this information.
Work with your legal counsel to make sure you understand any contracts you are signing.
Depending on what you’ve been awarded and what you’re promising to deliver, you may have received a contract with words and phrases you don’t fully understand. Read your entire contract over a few times.
If you still have questions, reach out to a lawyer you’ve worked with before—or, if you don’t have a lawyer, look up pro bono (ie: free for those who met income requirements) ones in your area. Many American cities have chapters of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
Share your good news with your network.
If you have a newsletter or use social media to promote your practice, start mentioning this new opportunity.
Depending on the frequency of your posts or emails, it would make sense to send an, “I got this opportunity, hurray!” informational post. Then, some time later you can send out a, “Here’s what I’ll be working on in more detail” post.
You can also send updates during the opportunity with “in progress” updates and then a project recap after the fact. People who are fans of your work will be thrilled for you and look forward to hearing more about your successes.
You can use Artwork Archive's contact groups to send out updates to select groups of collectors and keep them up to date about your current work.
If you haven't yet developed a project timeline, make one now.
Some opportunities require a timeline as part of your application process, so if you already have one, update it to make sure it’s current.
If a timeline wasn’t required, it’s still an excellent organizational strategy. In addition, it’s also helpful to plan for what you will do from the acceptance date to the opportunity start date.
For example, let’s say you were awarded a residency for the following July and it’s currently November. This means you have over six months to arrange your travel, source your supplies, and apply for any additional grant funding to make sure you have the best experience while in residence. You’re able to decide how much lead time you need to sublet your apartment, what kinds of jobs you’ll need to take on to pay for things and all the logistics of getting yourself and your materials both to (and from!) the residency.
Use this time to make a good plan. This is especially important for residencies in remote areas that may not have public transportation, reliable internet, or even a grocery store. Do your research and understand what logistics you need to account for to make the most of your opportunity!
Utilize the calendar and reminders feature in Artwork Archive. Artwork Archive has a built-in calendar feature that allows you to schedule important dates and events related to your art career. You can set reminders for exhibition deadlines, artwork pickups or deliveries, or any other important tasks to stay organized.
Document your progress and stay organized
Use a system like Artwork Archive to document the work that you complete as part of your opportunity. Documentation of your work will only make this opportunity more credible and open up doors for you in the future.
Be sure to take high-quality photos of your work, and add the details about the artwork and any details about how it was completed.
If it was an exhibition or show, add the details about the show into your archive so that you can build the provenance of each of your works.
You can learn more about the importance of building the provenance of your artworks here.
Ready to find the perfect opportunity for your art business?
Each year, the Artwork Archive team sets out to find and curate the best artist opportunities for the year. You can search artist residencies, artist grants, fellowships, calls-for-entry, and more in the free Guide to the Best Opportunities in 2023.
Find out how you can grow your art career by finding the right opportunities to apply for in 2023. Then, if you want more guidance on how to put together a competitive application, download the guide below all about landing grants and funding for artists.