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.

Domain Names

Obtaining, maintaining and reclaiming ownership of an internet domain

YOUR Domain Name is the most important thing that you need to maintain OWNERSHIP of.  All too often websites are constructed without the owners rights to their domain name which can cause you grief later on if you want to make a change. Let’s follow this scenario:

Jane Doe created her first website with ABC web design and hired them to not only design the site and add the content but to register a domain name as well. The path of least resistance which made sense at the time.

As technologies have advanced and there are more opportunities making it easier for Jane to manage her own website  she decided that was the thing to do. But her domain name JaneDoe.com is owned by ABC web design, she doesn’t know where it was registered nor does she have a user name or password to gain access to the domain name control panel.

Domain Names and website hosting are two different things.  You can have a Domain Name (several in fact) without having website hosting but you can’t have website hosting without a domain name.

Basic Facts

All domains on the internet have been registered, from google.com to artbiz.ca.

To find out who owns a particular domain, you need to do a WHOIS search. These searches are free, and offered by most registrars. If you are working with a domain outside the Canada, e.g. .co.uk or .com.au or .co.nz, then you need to find a registrar in that country and use their WHOIS search engine.

Here is a site where you can search your domain name to see who owns it:https://domain-search.domaintools.com/

The price of registering an internet domain varies between about CDN $5 and CDN $120 per year. Most places charge about $10 for .com or .ca domains, with a discount for multi-year registrations.

The most common mistakes that people make are

  • (a) letting a third-party register a domain that they want and
  • (b) losing track of the password that they were given for their domain registration if they were given one at all.
  • These mistakes can cost anywhere from $150 to $15,000 to rectify. In many cases, small businesses are forced to switch to a different address, requiring changes to stationery, all their contacts’ address books, and so on.

For all of these reasons, we encourage people to register their own domain rather than have a third-party do it for them. It only takes a few minutes and it is not really that complicated.

If you used a third-party to register your domain name and do not have access to the control panel, user name or password you can try to contact them and ask for access. If they are nice they will provide this to you, if they aren’t so nice or give you the run around or are just plain unresponsive it may be worth starting over with a new domain name that you OWN.

The most important thing to look for in a domain registrar is a control panel, which lets you login at any time to make adjustments to your name servers (DNS). If you cannot get control of your “name servers”, you might as well not use that registrar at all, at any price.

We recommend using netfirms.ca to register your domain name if at all possible. You can unlock your domain and change the name servers (DNS) anytime without having to contact the registrar. With .ca domains you can set the permissions for the registrar to handle the approvals with the CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority) which will save you an extra step. AT the very least register your own domain name and we can do the rest for you.

Changing hosting providers

A hosting provider is a company which hosts a web site, email accounts, a database, etc., on your behalf. Hosting services can be bundled with domain name registration but that does not guarantee optimal service. While domain registration is very, very straightforward, web and email hosting is not.

For small businesses, for professionals working from home without an IT department, it is important to find someplace which can listen to your requirements and act accordingly.

There are many reasons that people need to change hosting providers over the years. One reason is, of course, price. But there are other reasons which generally boil down to lack of customized service.

In order to change hosting providers for web or email, you generally need to (re)gain control of your domain and the definition of the name servers which provide DNS. The name servers cause a name, such as www.artbizwebdesign.com, to resolve to an internet address which is a number. Each hosting provider has machines with unique numbers. If you want to move a web site from an old/bad host to a new/groovy host at a new address, you absolutely must be able to control the identity of the name servers. Usually there are at least two name servers used for each domain.

The WHOIS record for a domain always reports the identity of the name servers. You should check those and make sure that they are with a company that you trust, either a good registrar, a good hosting company or a good web design firm.

Transferring a Domain to a New Registrar

In some cases, it is worth transferring domains to save ongoing annual fees. This can be tricky because, these days, domains are locked, meaning that they cannot be transferred without the owner taking extra steps. (And this is because too many people stole domains away from their rightful owners, before locking was available.)

Before you transfer an existing domain, you should capture the current DNS records by going to network-tools, putting in your domain name, and retrieving the DNS information. Print that – and/or save the information to a file. You will need it.

To transfer a domain, you login to the old/bad/expensive registrar’s web site and UNLOCK the domain. You then go to the new/good/inexpensive registrar’s site and request a transfer of your domain to the new place. A series of emails will be sent by the registrars to confirm that the whole process is legal, and you will need to confirm the transfer. Usually you will also have to pay one year’s fee to the new registrar, and that will extend the life of your domain by a year (so you do not lose any money, you are only pre-paying early).

I hope this helps and please contact me if you need to ask questions

Domain Name Scam

It came to my attention this morning that there is an email or mail solicitation from Domain Registry of Canada. This is a domain name scam to get you to renew a domain name with them and not your regular domain registrar. At an outrageous price I might add – $40 to $70 per year when a domain name shouldn’t cost you more than $10 – 18.

I have seen a letter and an email and it looks very official but it is in no way affiliated with CIRA (the official .ca registrar in Canada). These guys have been shut down in the states but not yet in Canada.

No Explanation NeededIt is important that you know your registry details. If you are hosted with me or made arrangement thru me for hosting I can provide you with your site details. Please contact me for this information and be in charge of your site!

If you believe you have been misled, paid them anything or have received a letter or email from Domain Registry of Canada you should contact the Competition Bureau toll-free at 1-800-348-5358 or visit their website located at: https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/epic/site/cb-bc.nsf/en/home

They have complaint forms online.

Competition Bureau of Canada
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
50 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0C9
E-Mail: compbureau@cb-bc.gc.ca
Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
Phone: (819) 997-4282TDD (hearing impaired): 1-800-642-3844
Facsimile: (819) 997-0324

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