The forty-page Artist Guidebook (Download Here) produced by the Recreation and Culture Division of the City is suitable for study in high school and university. Art students can learn how to avoid some of the pitfalls of nasty experience in a real world where we all have to pay rent.
Many artists have been made dumb and blind by ideology and stereotypes handed down from the 1700s when it became cache for artists to be intellectuals, gurus, and rebels, rather than community-minded craftspeople who were in tune with their culture and not searching for the TRUTH or expressing their emotions. They worked hard, learned hard, and often passed down secret skills from one generation of artists to the next.
Not that you can’t or shouldn’t be a guru if you think you’re spiritually gifted, or that you shouldn’t express your emotions. Sharing our suffering and joy of life can benefit others, but even these emotional artists need to make money, and if they mistake art as currency in of itself, feeding their soul, they won’t make the effort to feed their bank account. And one day, if they don’t kill themselves (25% of poets commit suicide) they go back to school and learn something more practical.
So hurray for this guidebook.
The document is design friendly, which stretches it to forty pages, but it’s an easy and informative read. The artists whose knowledge is scattered throughout the guidebook are credited in the opening pages, with sample images of the public art they produced for the city in accordance with Thunder Bay’s public art program. The program is very progressive with the aim of beautifying the city and giving meaning to our community to make for a better city in which to live, attract tourists and attract new businesses.
The guidebook gives a bit of history about the public art program, its aims, how it works, and offers artists the opportunity to stay informed whenever new competitions are announced.
There is also great detail about how a competition works, portfolios, submissions, materials, how to budget, artist fees, the jury, the contract, insurance, how to work with subcontractors, maintenance, and more.
On a personal note, from an artist who has a better than 50% success rate with grant applications, applying for your first juried competition or grant is the most time consuming and frustrating. However, it’s important to note, that if you keep EVERYTHING, including research, contact addresses, source materials, bios, letters of intent, references, curriculum vitae, etc. on your computer, the next time you apply the process will be much easier. My first application for a competition took me two solid weeks. When I didn’t get the commission I was upset. I thought I’d wasted my time. However, when I applied for a grant, rather than a competition, it took me only two days to get everything in order, because I had EVERYTHING on my computer.
Competitions for some projects require lots of thought, models and research, so the time involved will always vary. But now when I apply for a grant, there is no frustration. This is also because I know what I like to do as an artist. I have my métier.
In fact, applying for competitions and grants is a great way to get to know yourself, to know what you like and need to do as an artist. Competitions test your ability and focus your mind. It’s a great start for your journey as an artist, so it would do you a great benefit to read the guidebook and organize the material you need long before a competition is even announced. Note to teachers! This would be a great assignment. This process can also reveal the social relevance and traditional functions of art.To get a hard copy you can contact the Public Art Coordinator, Reana Mussato at firstname.lastname@example.org.