What advice do you have for applying for grants?
Lindz: One [newer] artist we know charged on the lower end of the square footage [for a mural] and he was aware that he may go over budget and some money might come out of his pocket. He was getting paid for it, maybe not at the best hourly labor rate, but he wanted something for his portfolio. And getting a piece in your portfolio does help with grants. The City of Denver would like to see maybe one mural you’ve painted if you’re going to apply for a grant.
For grants it’s kind of who you know. That’s the best way and I think a lot of times the most productive. Because in such a competitive environment right now, if you don’t know somebody— I mean, unless you’re like Mark Bradford it’s really hard.
Grant writing is a skill and people who are good grant writers usually get the money. So if you’re not focusing on your writing and you’re focusing more on concepts or design or something, it can be difficult to get tied into the money.
Having grants accessible is great because without them, where will I find the money I need to do a project? I’d have to go to a for-profit sponsor or I’d have to do a partnership and give away some of the ownership of the work. So having grants is really, really important. I’ve done a couple and I always advise artists to look at those grants and figure out what works for them and to just apply. I’d say 5-10% of the funds that come through my studio are just through grants. That really helps out.
The last project I did for the city of Denver was the “Home Sweet Montbello” mural in a canal . . . that was $17,500, which basically paid for my fee and all the supplies and materials that I needed. Without the grant, trying to raise a good 20 grand for a project like that would have been difficult, especially for a mural in a canal.