A few weeks ago I decided to get serious about applying for residencies and met with artist Samantha Mogelonsky to get some advice. For those not familiar with the concept, an artist residency is when you go to a location (a mix of housing and art studios) for a period of time to focus exclusively on your work. Samantha has done a variety of residencies across the world, so it was great to hear what has and hasn’t worked, what to watch out for, and how to narrow in on residencies that will benefit you the most. So first of all where do you look?
Where to Find Them
The most comprehensive resource for residencies seems to be www.resartis.org. They have a lot of residencies from across the world and a decent filter system to sort through it all. Still, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding between a country home in the south of France or a studio in Tokyo. For your first round of applications, Samantha suggests picking three to five residencies to apply for. There is a lot of variety so let’s take a look at how to narrow in on the ones that will be a good fit.
How to Pick a Residency
There are six key variables to look at when browsing through residencies – location, duration, cost, resources, expectations, and the people. Lets break these down one at a time:
Location – This one is fairly self explanatory. Where in the world is the residency? Depending on your practice, the location can be really important or not at all. Will you be photographing outside or sculpting in the studio? Is there sufficient subject matter in the region that matches your work? This could be a practical decision or you can go somewhere simply because you’re curious about the place.
Duration – A residency can last from a week to several months. For most artists a week won’t be enough time, but anything longer than two months could mean essentially moving to the residency, forcing you to figure out how to deal with your current living / work situation (give up your apartment or sublet?). Therefore, for your first residency somewhere around two to six weeks is good – it will give you enough time to make some work and get a feel for what it’s like, but not so much that it flips your entire life upside down.
Cost – Each residency is different, some you’ll have to pay for everything. Some will pay for your accommodations and a stipend for meals, but you’ll have to over airfare. There are even some that will pay for everything! It’s important to consider that residencies will sometimes help you apply for grants to cover costs that they don’t cover. Figure out what you can afford and remember to factor in the duration and location of the residency. Some places have really cheap living expenses while others, such as ones in major cities, will prove much more expensive.
Resources – You’re an artist, what do you need to make your work? Some residencies give you access to special equipment that you might not be able to easily access elsewhere. Check out their website or send them an email to see what they offer in terms of equipment and studio space.
Expectations – So what’s in it for them? Each one is different so make sure to find out exactly what will be expected of you. Some residencies don’t expect anything, just show up, do your thing and leave. Others might want you to do a show, be a guest lecturer at a school, or even donate one of the pieces you make to their collection. Make sure it’s clear what is and isn’t expected of you.
People – While there are some solo residencies where you won’t really see or talk to anyone, for most of them this isn’t the case. A lot are dorm style where you’ll be grouped with a few people to share living and work spaces. There might be an admin person that keeps tabs on what people are working on. You might even have to attend related events. It’s good to look into the kind of artists that have done the residency before (they are sometime listed on the residency sites). Their work will give you a good idea of the kind of people the residency chooses and who you might end up with. Also look into the people who run the residency and any instructors that might be there. It’s not uncommon to email people who’ve done a residency before to ask them about their experience, most will be more than happy to share so don’t be shy!
There you go, that should give you a good base for starting out in the world of artist residencies! Plow through ResArtis and pick three to apply to. Good luck.
p.s. Check out Samantha’s work here – www.sammogelonsky.com