Researching calls for artists is an important component of your strategy for marketing art. It is challenging to figure out where to start. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming. To help build your confidence, break down your research into small actionable steps.
Bring The Opportunities To You
Set up Google Alerts for your area. Use this search string: “call for artists” + location. You may also want to include + medium.
For example: “call for artists” + Cleveland + painting
Sign up for niche call for artists platforms. Find them by searching for: “calls for artists” + medium or + style or + relevant topic. Most niche platforms will allow you to narrow your search results to your preferred locations once you sign up.
For example: “calls for artists” + sculpture + “public art” = Americans for the Arts Public Arts Listings
Sign up for newsletters from your area Arts Council and state Arts Commission. These will generally include calls for artists collected from local non-profits.
Dig Deeper For Hidden Gems
Sometimes, when you find a call for artists posted publicly, it has already been filled. It’s important to try to get in front of the process not only to make sure you have to to apply, but also in order to have enough time to create the work or have enough inventory available.
Whenever you find a recurring opportunity, add it to your own spreadsheet. Include the columns: Opportunity, location, deadline, contact information / URL, and a short description. Start checking for the yearly deadline and new information at least six months ahead.
Review call for artists content marketing platforms which offer a range of opportunities, such as Side Arts (our specialty is vetted and trusted call for artists with significant track records of success for artists), Zapplication (juried calls), and Art Fair Insiders (art fair specialists).
Check out their archives and forum sections for information and reviews of calls for artists which align with your goals and interests.
Side Arts only promotes new, active calls for artists – no duplicates.
- Use the Active category to see current listings.
- Use the Expired category to see listings which have passed their deadline. Find organizations which offer calls for artists in your area. They may be offering an opportunity, but not promoting it broadly.
- Use the other categories to refine your search by location, type of call, award amount, and so on.
Researching Calls For Artists Conclusion
Try using free resources to bring the opportunities to your inbox. Join local arts listservs. Create a spreadsheet. Dedicate time once every three months (set up a Google Reminder) to do original research. Make it a SMART goal to add at least three opportunities to your list every month.
Side Arts provides promotion content marketing for a range of call for artists providers and business types. The most common include art organizations, galleries, event promoters, private businesses, local governments, educational institutes, and museums.
Call For Artists Providers
In order of frequency, these are the types of organizations which provide opportunities for visual artists and crafters:
- Galleries – Offer 4-10 exhibition opportunities per year. These are themed calls which can range from colors, shapes, social issues, medium, and styles. The benefit of showing with a gallery is being able to take advantage of their relationships with collectors.
- Non-profit art organizations – Offer 2-3 exhibition or competitions per year. The non-profits are typically local arts councils or focused on a specific medium, such as wood, ceramics, or fabric. Exhibition themes revolve around local history, public figures, and community affairs.
- Event promoters – Manage annual art fairs. These pay-to-participate events usually include the opportunity for juried prizes. Participation to be juried often costs extra.
- Residencies – Destinations for inspired art making which may include travel expenses, room and board, studio space, and guided support and experiences. Residencies may be juried or paid. 1) Juried: There are no costs except application fees. 2) Paid: The participant assumes all costs. These provide different levels of services on a fee-based and availability basis.
- Government institutions – Opportunities provided by city government or state arts commissions. These occur irregularly and are dependent on funding. Funding may come from the city, state, federal, or percent-for-art (one-half of one percent of construction cost for art projects). These are requests for proposals for public works – murals, sculptures, traffic box wraps, storm drain painting, bus stop installations, bicycle rack artwork, public bench artwork, and other installations.
- Publications – Magazines, both online and in print. Usually pay-to-participate and ongoing based on publication frequency.
- Studio tours – Community events where artist studios are open to the public. Run by a local arts council or an independent non-profit organization. Pay-to-participate. Although traffic is not guaranteed, online and print promotion may be offered. The primary benefit is having a reason to clean up and organize the studio annually.
- Higher education institutions – These are often residencies which take advantage of a broad range of facilities and services available at the institution as well as dormitory living space.
- Private businesses – Commissions from private businesses looking for branding and marketing support – typically murals or 2D artwork in private offices, hotels, and other real estate.
Call For Artists Benefits
Providing each of the above has positive and negative aspects. Make sure the fee structure, commissions, and terms of engagement are clearly defined. Know your legal rights. Give quantitative and qualitative data to back up why someone should participate.
Providing a point of contact is important when writing a call for artists. Transparency is important to visual artists and crafters. They trust that we hold our clients accountable for their listings. Providing the relevant information helps establish that the client is not a faceless organization or phishing exercise and, in turn, increases response rates.
Calls For Artists Point Of Contact Information
Most promotion content marketing platforms require three point of contact pieces of information.
- Public point of contact email
- Email for administrative use
- Name for administrative use
Public Point Of Contact
- Where the applicant may ask additional questions about the listing.
- May be general (email@example.com) or specific (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Avoid generic or non-domain specific email addresses such as email@example.com.
- If you must use a non-specific email address, use Gmail – here a free 14 day trial for their business applications.
Email For Administrative Use
- Where the promotion content marketing platform can contact the listing’s administrator for questions or concerns about the listing.
- May be general (firstname.lastname@example.org) or specific (email@example.com), but preferably specific.
- The person that manages this email address is often both the person that publishes and promotes the listing, although in the case of some larger organizations, there may be two individuals that divide these responsibilities.
- Promotion content marketing platforms will send this email address information about their account, listing updates, and information on best practices for marketing the listing.
Name For Administrative Use
- This is the person that is most responsible for posting listings and managing the promotion content marketing platform’s account.
- A full name (first and last) is usually required for account set up and maintenance.
- Although not shown to the public, providing a contact name helps establish transparency and allows to quickly address account issues.
It is challenging to write an effective call for artists. There are many details to think through. Side Arts promotion service provides copywriters and content marketers who help you frame your listing and promotion in order to attract the most qualified participants.
Once a call for artists is published to the site, only Side Arts staff can make listing content changes. This is to ensure that our quality assurance process is not compromised.
Obviously, small changes and misunderstandings may occur. Therefore, changes may be requested for incidental updates; i.e. given the wrong link, change of date/location, or point of contact.
Our ability to keep the price manageable is reliant on the work load on our staff copywriters and promoters. Our policy is to have our copywriters format the listings in the best possible way in terms of grammar, online searchability, and current content marketing best practices.
Your social promotion is scheduled when the listing is posted. Changing your content may mean proofing and editing social content, as well.
We want your call for artist to succeed! If you have any questions about your promotions, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pricing your artwork is an important component of your strategy for marketing art. Pricing should not be an over-complicated procedure in the primary market. (Secondary market sales can be much more complicated.) If you are new to pricing your artwork, there is a formula to determine where to start.
Pricing Your Artwork Formula
- Start with the total costs of the materials used. Use the relative cost of only the materials used.
- Track the amount of time you actually spent creating the artwork.
- Multiply the number of hours by the rate you would charge per hour as a professional art consultant.
- Add the cost of materials and time.
- Multiply the result by a multiple based on your overall experience. This is typically between 2 (just starting out) and 10 (top of your field).
Price of Original Artwork = [Materials + (Time)(Hourly Rate)] (Experience)
For example, [$100 materials + (20 hours of work)($25/hr)] (5 years of experience adds a multiplier of 3) = $1800.
- Highest quality (limited edition giclee prints or high-end reproductions) = 50% of original price
- Mid-grade quality (limited edition reproductions) = 30% of original price
- Low quality (one-off prints or open-ended reproductions) = 10% of original price
Calls for artists are indirect sales channels for your artwork. How frequently do you apply to calls for artists and for what type do you typically apply? Where have you had the most success in generating the most margin on sales?
Side Arts can help. Learn more with our official guide, Marketing Art: A Fresh Approach.
Calls for artists include
- Requests for proposals – Commissions for your artwork
- Grants – Funds that are available for the completion of a project or growth of a practice
- Vendor events – Sell your own artwork at a rental space
- Exhibition opportunities – Agents sell your artwork at a relatively high commission.
- Competitions – Compete with others for a limited number of prizes
It is helpful to think of them in terms of both direct and indirect sales channels as they relate to the margin on your artwork. In other words, where do you get the most money relative to your efforts.
Margin By Sales Channels
In direct sales, requests for proposals, and grants, you are typically setting the terms of engagement. You know the inputs and there are limited outputs.
Vendor events rank slightly lower. This is because you shoulder the costs of the booth rental fee. More importantly, it introduces more variables that are outside your control such as rain, advertising for the event, traffic flow, and so on.
Likewise, platform sales, such as Etsy and EBay introduce flat and variable fees for including your work on their sites. Although they offer extra promotion services, they come at a hefty price. Therefore, promotion, which costs time and money, is on you.
When utilizing licencing, the burden of promotion is now on the vendor to whom you have licenced your work. Since they do all the promotion, they take a much higher commission which reduces your margin considerably.
Exhibitions work the same way as licencing. The burden of promotion and sales is on the gallerist or curator hosting the exhibition. If they are not offering promotion and sales support, then it is simply a pay-for-play vendor event. The purpose of participating in an exhibition is to take advantage of the organization’s exclusive buyer’s lists which should align with the type of work you offer.
Lastly, competitions offer the greatest risk and least margin for your time and effort. You have no control as to how many others are participating, there may be a fee to participate, and there may only be one winner.
Before applying for a call for artists, think through how best it fits with your goals and the risk you are willing to take. Make sure you know quantitative answers to questions regarding promotion, buyer’s lists, and commission percentages.
Most artists looking to grow their professional network and sales opportunities apply to 10-15 calls for artists per year. The average cost of applying is $25-45.
Looking to lower the cost of applications? Side Arts Member Certification may be right for you. Certified Members whom are selected for opportunities promoted on Side Arts are eligible to be reimbursed that calls’ application fees. Click here to learn more.
When looking to promote your call for artists, it should include all relevant information needed for an artist to decide whether to apply for your opportunity as well as for you to make an informed selection. The call for artists application is how artists send their information to you, whether it is for an exhibition, vendor event, competition, request for proposal, or grant.
Applications should use webforms with the ability to upload images. Applications by email, mail, or in-person are difficult to track and often have inconsistent entries. Many types of webforms are free. There are several reasonably priced online juried application management services available.
We recommend webform providers such as Jotform and Gravity Forms due to their simplicity and affordability. Depending on your needs, you may also consider using Wufoo or WESTAF’s CaFE or Zapplication.
Basic Application Questions
- Phone number
- Artwork medium(s)
- Artwork description
- Artwork size
- Price per piece (generally)
- Image uploads (minimum of three)
Specific Call For Artists Questions
In order to better qualify your applicants, we recommend adding additional quantitative and qualitative fields (not all of which are relevant to every opportunity)
- Keywords that describe your artwork (up to five)
- Demographics (if they relate to the opportunity)
- Facebook page
- Facebook number of fans
- Instagram account
- Instagram number of followers
- Total number of people in the artists’ email list
- eCommerce websites (i.e. etsy, zazzle, and so on)
- Business name (if applicable and incorporated)
- Press coverage (two or three links)
- Resume (showing work within the last three to ten years)
- Are you exclusively represented by a gallery/agent (No/Yes, if so who)
- Any needs to accommodate for special circumstances
- How did you find out about the opportunity?
- In what public art opportunities have you participated?
- Include mock-ups, if applicable
Keep your application questions short and concise. Start with the easy name, address, and demographics questions, then move on to the questions which are specific to the opportunity. Remember to add a note that describes what happens after the application has been submitted so applicants understand the process.
Looking for more writing tips? Check out our official guide, How To Write A Call For Artists.
Call for artists are most effective when they include a single call to action. A call to action is what you want an artist or crafter to do. It can include clicking a link, opening a document, looking at a picture, leaving a comment, and so on.
Side Arts includes a call to action after the first paragraph of text in each call for artists promotion.
Having clear language, consistent wording, and uncluttered formatting encourages qualified artists to apply.
- Clear language helps the reader understand what you want them to do. Be direct. For example, “Click here to apply”
- Use consistent working. Avoid flipping between application, registration, order form, and so on.
- Uncluttered formatting draws the readers eye to what you want them to do. Avoid small links which may be easy to miss.
Call To Action Formatting Tips
The best format is a single hyperlink to an application near the top of the page. Buttons and alternate text formatting/colors are helpful as well.
This has proven to be the clearest format and most effective for attracting qualified applicants. Digital application links are preferred over email addresses because they streamline the process for the applicant and client.
There are many good reasons for doing so:
- A consistent format allows participants to become more comfortable which increases application rates of qualified artists.
- Click-through rates can be tracked, proving effectiveness.
- Unique content creation optimizes Google ranking and SEO, adding to a listing’s visibility.
Looking for more tips, check out our official guide, How To Write A Call For Artists.