Friday, January 25, 2013

People Fund Success....How To...

I had the good fortune last night to attend a lecture by Thomas Werner.  He's an Assistant Professor, past Photography Program Director, and current co-chair of the Faculty Council in the School of Art Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design.  Other accolades include: former Chelsea gallery owner, curator, State Department's cultural representative for the USA in Russia, photography consultant for COACH, Rodale Publishing and successful commercial photographer.  The official title of his talk was "The Artist as the Producer" or "how to spend other people's money to support your art work".

An intelligent, practical insight into the world of grant writing, Thomas provided a detailed deconstruction of actual grant applications and discussed the required elements.  Even though I could share some of these more technical strategies of a detailed grant application, I want to focus on the motivational and marketing axioms that most artists either fearfully approach or neglect altogether.  Here's a sample of some of Thomas' just plain brilliant guidelines, questions and thoughts that made incredible sense; for example:

  • Ask yourself, "Who needs to fund my work?"
  • The outcome of your work should affect multiple communities
  • People fund success; build your credibility
  • We limit ourselves to what we think we can't do
  • Aggregate importance
  • Success builds; this brings gravity to what you do
  • Success gets funding but it doesn't guarantee the next step
  • How does what you do/did get you to the next step?
  • Let people learn about your success so your next step is created
  • Manifest yourself in multiple ways
  • When riding the wave of success, plan for the next wave
  • Keep your sponsors happy
  • Always remember to thank your sponsors (e.g., at the end of a presentation, follow-up thank you letter)
Overall these guidelines are not rocket science but do require practice, forethought and a strong dose of confidence.  In today's art market, the artist has to generate visibility and develop new revenue streams in order to not just survive, but thrive!  So keep the rah-rah guidelines in the back of your mind when you venture out to develop and fund your next personal project.

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