Writing Resources for Artists

Do you absolutely hate, detest and despise writing artist statements, submission letters or proposals?  I get anxious and break out into a cold sweat (well not really but I still don’t like it).  Do you find yourself saying “I have a visual language” or want very much to go with “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. Unfortunately that is not going to advance your art career or get the work accepted by galleries or the public.  In order to reach people artists are put into the position where they have to explain their art and if feels like you have to explain yourself.

To help in this daunting task I have compiled some writing resources for artists to people and sites that actually have some useful tips.

The Creative Edge – Cover Letters

Copyright Peggy Hadden

“When I first began presenting work to the art world, I sent slides out one set at a time, tentatively, without a cover letter.

Looking back now, it seems like I was trying to edge into a gallery unnoticed-when, in fact, just the opposite was true. I wanted very much to be noticed.

Sad to report, the slides would usually come back in the same condition, with no acknowledgment letter-an event particularly disappointing for an artist. I failed to grasp that if I wanted to receive a letter, it would help if I sent one.

In fact, the responses and what I learned from them improved dramatically when I began writing a few words to the person to whom the packet was addressed. Thus evolved a series of ideas for writing art-related cover letters more effectively.”

Writing an Artist’s Statement

If you’re an artist, chances are someone has said, “What is your painting about?” or, “Explain this photograph to me,” or, “What the hell is that brown thing?”

It’s human nature to try to make sense of what we see. Writing an artist’s statement is a great way to help your viewers understand what they’re seeing. Even if you never share your written statement with anyone, just taking the time to sit down and write it out will help you talk about your work more easily.

To read the rest of this article from ArtEmerging.com

Writing a bio from “Bio Camp Open Thread” by Edward Winkleman

“In discussing Open Submission exhibitions the other day, I noted that many gallerists consider them negatives on an artist bio, which led to a discussion about what makes for a good bio, which led me to think about it quite a bit over the past few days, which led to no very solid conclusions I’m afraid, because, well, the best bio is always one tailored to its viewer. Each potential viewer will be looking for different things.

To read the rest of this article from Bio Camp Open Thread

Writing an artist resume

“Being an artist means not only making your art but of course promoting your art. But some would argue that you’re really promoting yourself. Regardless, you need to have a good resume. Edward Winkleman’s blog recently had a great post about resumes/bios with some really valuable information (be sure to read the comments, too). I’ll just add to it by telling you how I deal with my resume.”

To read the rest of this article from artemerging.com

“How not to write an arts grant application”

“I’ve been around the grant writing block, hitting up arts councils, government programs and foundations for my individual art practice, as well as for various creative non-profits and charities, in a little over 15 years. Having sat on several arts council juries, what I’ve seen on the receiving end makes it glaringly apparent as to what makes a very strong application. Let me share with you what doesn’t.”

To read the rest of this article from The Artist’s Business Digest

Art Shippers

Artbiz has compiled this short list of art shippers. I have only had the experience of using Art Packed; which was a good one and can not vouch for the others on the list.  If you have some experiences or know of a good shipper and want to share them with others please provide your comments below, share and share alike!

Art Packed
Art Packed is a Calgary based shipper and covers mostly western Canada but can hook you up with another shipper if you need to go across the border. I have used him and he is good. Art Packed posts a monthly updated schedule on his site

US ArtShips world-wide and is based in the US – the site isn’t clear if they pick up in Canada, you would need to contact them to inquire.

Go Navis
Navis Pack & Ship specializes in the packing, crating, and shipping of fine art and have 5 locations in Ontario.

Pacart came recommend by one of my readers and they say with “good results”.  Pacart ships across Canada and goes into the states (Chicago and New York). There is a monthly schedule posted on their site.

Denbigh Fine Art Services
As part of their comprehensive package of fine art services, Denbigh offers a monthly scheduled art transportation service between Vancouver and Ottawa.

Christie’s Fine Art and Storage
Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS) is the world’s premier storage provider for fine art, antiques and collectibles, with facilities in London, New York and Singapore FreePort.

Artemis Fine Art Services: offers fine art transportation, crating, packing, and installation services to clients throughout the nation.

Shipping art and getting it back again

Shipping art to the U.S. and getting it back again. It’s the getting it back that’s the tough part.

I had 5 pieces in an exhibition in New York. After the show was over and the gallery shipped it back, the work was stopped at the border. Customs would not release it until I paid a brokerage fee.

I called Canada Customs and explained that I owned the work but it seems that they don’t have a way to handle this. There was a value placed on the work so there was duty. In the end I was told that the only way to avoid duty is to broker it yourself.

When I shipped the work to New York I used an art shipper. Actually 2 art shippers; one from Calgary to Toronto, then handed off from Toronto to New York. They took care of everything and all the costs were quoted up front. It was expensive (close to $800 for 5 pc’s) but it arrived all very safe and sound.

I believe the trouble I had on the return delivery was because the gallery shipped my work FedEx Ground! Why is still beyond me, this was a very reputable gallery who ships work back and forth all across America but not that often across the border. Had they used a bonafide art shipper I don’t believe I would have had the problems I had.

Did I mention that all the work can back DAMAGED!

They even managed to break a wood crate. That’s because they shipped via ground and my work was bounced all around the U.S. before it even managed to reach the border. You can imagine how my heart sank when the work finally arrived 2 weeks later.

I hear a lot of stories about damaged art and all the artist can do is throw their hands in the air in defeat. I thought that I was going to be one of those but the gallery owner really came through for me. He fought tooth and nail with FedEx and managed to get me a settlement. They also sent me the encaustic that I would need to repair the work, which I was able to do.

The typical scenario is that the artist pays to have the work shipped there and the gallery is responsible to incur the cost of the return. Perhaps it would be prudent to discuss the shipping methods up front before entering into a contract.

Here’s a list of some art shippers