In the spring 2017, I’ve been lucky enough to be granted a residency by the ESKFF at Mana Contemporary, the famous art institution with locations in Jersey City, Chicago and Miami. I’ve been asked several times about it so I decided to share my experience.
There are many different kinds of residencies all over the world (roughly 1500). The main goal is to provide artist with a space and some time to create new work. For some you have to be nominated, and for others you have to apply. List of residencies available and guidelines can be found on some websites such as: nyfa.org , resartis.org or artistcommunities.org
Becoming a resident artist will require time and often some investment especially if you live far from the residency location. So why are they so precious for artists? Why should you apply and what can you get from it? Here are the 5 main take away from my own experience and why I recommend the experience.
“There is no art world. There are communities and you have to build yours”. This precious advice from my friend, the artist Allan Gorman, is spot on. That is why, with no hesitation, the first take away from my recent residency is definitely the people I’ve had the chance to meet: the ESKFF team, my fellow artists residents, the MANA community and the people who kindly visited the residency from art collectors to art dealers or curators. As much as I love being in the studio, meeting new and inspiring persons is priceless. From these new connections, I’ve gained new friends and started new collaborations.
2. Refining my project
Working on a body of work is one thing. Putting words on paper to define clearly your project is another. The application process generally includes the project presentation, getting recommendation letters and sometimes an interview. All these steps made me refine my project and I now realize how crucial it was to move forward.
When you know you have a limited time to work on a project, you want to make the most of it! Ahead of the residency, I defined a number of paintings I wanted to create, did the preliminary work and ordered the needed material. We did commit for a minimum time of 25 hours/week in the studio. Knowing you have just a few weeks to spend there, you make the most of it.
- Sharing and learning
I believe art is for sharing. So being in MANA gave me many occasions to do so, either with art lovers or with professionals. I also got the chance to work closely with other artists with very different backgrounds; we shared tips on various subjects from the business side to technical aspects. We also had some professional workshops with guests and a coach. If you love contacts, it’s for you. If you’re a loner, it’s even more so!
- New projects: shows, residencies and grants
This first residency made me realize that there are many organizations out there to help artists through residencies or grants. Of course it is challenging to get in and the process of applying request work. But even if it seems a far reach it can be accessible. It has generated new opportunities and led me to show my work in the following months. In brief it has opened my eyes and some doors.
So how to get into a residency?
First of all, identify the right residency for you. Some have requirements (age /gender/ nationality/ medium…) and geography is also a big criteria. Ask your artists friends or check out the resume of other artists in the same field. Look up on the research websites about residencies. It’s not a sprint; take your time to identify the right ones for you.
Then evaluate your budget. Some provide a stipend but for some you have to finance the studio or the accommodation.
To apply, follow the guidelines and reach out to former residents to get their feedback and advice.
Best of luck and do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about the ESKFF!
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