Spring is a time for new growth, and this teacher is feeling the excitement of new beginnings ahead. Along with a new season, this past week brought opportunities for me and I couldn’t be happier to begin a new journey after keeping ideas tucked away for much too long.
This past week, a few sleepless nights caught up to me and I finally scheduled a personal day to get caught up on rest. It turns out that I picked the perfect day since a snowstorm resulted in cancelled buses and no students attended classes. As the winds howled outside, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to do something new: submit my work to two open calls for online exhibits.
I began to realize that I had a lot of learning to do because the submission requirements included an artist’s bio, artist statement, a write-up explaining the connection between my work and the theme of the show, a CV (yes, I had to look that up), and files with specific file names (thanks for helping me, Google).
My 20+ years as a teacher usually gave me confidence but I was in a new world and felt very, very inexperienced. I wasn’t sure what to include in my CV, I wasn’t sure about the difference between a bio and an artist statement, and I found myself questioning simple instructions. When they request an image of *just* the artwork, does that mean that none of the background can show? Not even part of the wall behind it?
If you need a little encouragement, listen to Erika Lee Sears, whose advice will have you clicking *submit* in no time.
I realized that this was one of those moments where I had to choose whether or not to dive in. So I did. This was something I wanted in my life and I was tired of finding reasons not to do it. Bit by bit, I created and uploaded the files to each open call and sent them away for someone else to look at.
But how do you know if you did it the right way? How do I know if my bio had the right information? What if I don’t really know what to include in an artist statement? These questions left me lacking confidence and unsure of what I could do about it. I sent a message to Mona, founder of Art Mums United (a site built to support artist-mothers as they develop their skills, experience and online presences) who was curious as to why I might feel uneasy about my applications so she scheduled a Zoom meeting with me the next day so we could talk about the process.
I’ve followed Mona and her progress since last summer, where we connected on Instagram. I was thrilled when she used her platform to share my work, and I’ve enjoyed connecting with her through events she has hosted over the past months. On Sunday mornings, I’ve enjoyed sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee as she interviews a new artist live on Instagram – it’s wonderful to be part of a supportive, growing community. So you can imagine how surprised and excited I was to have the chance to visit with her last night.
We chatted at length about questions I had as well as her experiences helping people prepare their work and their submissions for exhibits. She shared some of the common fears that are obstacles for artists who are looking to promote or even sell their work. I could identify with some of those fears, which is why it’s so important to talk to people in the art community whose experience can help guide you in the right direction.
My questions prompted her to develop an amazing resource that includes information and guidelines for artists who are preparing to submit their work. Head over to her website to find “freebies”, where you can get your own Submission Guide that will walk you through the steps of preparing an artist bio, statement and much more. I used this guide to completely re-write my own bio and will use it for future submissions. Thank you, Mona! I’ll be sharing this resource with many of my friends and hopefully they will use it to help them share their work too!
She also recommended signing up for an event with Visionary Art Collective, and I’m glad I did. This afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining a chat with several artist-educators including Victoria Fry and Rebecca Potts, where we discussed our home studios, organization, and related topics. I was happy to talk with them about the challenges of taking my own photos of my paintings, because they shared advice so freely. Isn’t it amazing when you can connect with like-minded people??
I have a lot to learn, but I have already had so much support as I took these shaky steps this past week. I’m looking forward to what comes next!