Do you have any tips on submitting proposals for calls for entries?
I think I’ve done four or five of those at this point. I would say once every other year I’ve been awarded one, but I’ve written many, many proposals and not gotten them.
I love that process because it’s so different from anything that I could come up with on my own. It’s a lot of paperwork and I have to write narratives and design concepts for people I don’t know and probably will never meet. It’s a selection process and I’m up against other artists and I don’t know what they’re doing. I don’t know why sometimes they pick someone versus another artist.
So there’s intrigue, challenge and trying to show my best on paper because it’s not even art. And I’m a terrible writer so it’s really a struggle for me to write those, it takes forever.
I usually ask myself, What is public art and what does this mean for somebody in this space 10 years from now? When I walk through an airport now it’s changed everything. I look at sculptures or paintings and that’s all public art. Now that I’ve done it it’s making me think about a lot of different spaces and what’s behind the scenes.
People say to me all the time, You must be making so much money, that project must be huge. And I don’t know, I love doing it, I get to collaborate with carpenters and people who know permitting and coding process for the municipality. But by the time it’s all said and done, the hours I put in— it’s a paycheck but it’s not like I could live off of that.[W]hen the Girdwood School here in town was having a renovation it opened up 1% [of the funding for] art in their school and somebody suggested I put a bid in. I did and I was awarded it and I did a big mural there. Doing that paperwork was pretty intensive, but once I did I just felt more comfortable to try for other ones.
Every federal building has to spend 1% in the construction of the project for art. For instance, a new federal building that is $10 million, 1% of that has to be spent on art.
A lot of big artists will actually seek out these RFPs [Request for Proposals], they’re called, for putting art into federal buildings across the nation. Then they’ll write this huge proposal, have concepts and renderings. And sometimes have assistants seeking out these grants so they can continue to be an artist. Right now, one day every month or every two weeks I’ll sit at the computer and seek out grants.
All cities have an art department and there’s usually a call for artists on all their web pages. You just got to make the deadline. I’ve missed deadlines before.
Grant money and government money is going to primarily pay better than private businesses. Private businesses don’t usually have thousands of dollars lying around. But grants and opportunities do exist for artists, there are calls for entries. Even museums will have calls for entries. So you can be a panel artist or a regular artist and try to submit for museums. That’s just one way of finding work or doing this career but you have to go look for work.