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Writing a Grant Proposal

Lesson 25 from: The Art and Business of Conceptual Portraiture

Jennifer Thoreson

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Lesson Info

25. Writing a Grant Proposal

Next Lesson: Artist Residencies

Lesson Info

Writing a Grant Proposal

So probably the thing I get the most questions about is writing a grant proposal because this is help modern artists get funded, you know, you're going to need a lot of the same things that we just talked about, so of course the artist statement cb resonating artist bio, that kind of thing, but you'll need a couple of other things too, so sometimes they ask for something called a statement of purpose, which is different than an artist statement like what? So right, you get a really great artist statement written and then they want that. So what a statement of purpose is is more of like your general outlook on making art so it doesn't have anything to do with a very specific body of work. I wouldn't write about medic in a statement of purpose I'm writing about why I make work what my overarching kind of ideas are and again this all goes back to that list we made yesterday those keywords that help you figure out what the heck your work is about all of your work and so the saving of purpo...

ses that big umbrella all of my work fits under this theme I'm interested in these things thes the's issues I make work that looks like this in my purpose for being an artist is basically why are you doing this is what they want to know why are you an artist why? Why didn't you just go to middle school and get a paycheck, right? So probably one of the most come to jesus moments that ever happened in my career was starting graduate school, and we were all sitting in the same room together. The new newbies and adrian salinger says to us first thing before she even introduced yourself. If you do not absolutely need to do this with absolute core of your being run now, and I thought she was joking, she was not. And she's right? This is not the industry to be in if you want to make a ton of money, this is not the industry to be in if you want to play around and just kind of, you know, try toe, have an extra income and doesn't work that way, it just doesn't it's this is a tough industry it's, hard, it's, hard work, getting money out of the industry. It takes time, it's like you put money in, throw money at it for a few years and then start to get three turn. But there's, no get rich quick scenario in the fine art world, there just isn't. So if this is not something you need to do and want to do with every fiber of your being, go to dental school. Yeah, so yeah, that statement purpose basically is why you need to do it with the fiber of your being and it needs to be convincing it needs to be legitimately heartfelt again if you need help writing something like that get help because usually on a grant application that's the first thing they're going to read often times before they even look at your work they're going to read your statement of purpose they want to know why you're doing what you're doing of course the application form which is different for every single one and a lot of grants are very specific so that maybe just for african american artists just for female artists just for artists working in alternative processes, you know, so that application form is important that you list you know that you qualify and why um statement of financial need is I'm going to show you mine here in a minute but that's different than a pup budget proposal it's it's a paragraph or two stating why you need the money basically andan that you'll include what you're going to do with the money so and that's that's that's what they want to know they want to know where the money's going so it's it's really important that you write that well and that you illiterate specifically what the money is going to and why you need it the um say you write a proposal and they give you the money for that work do they own the work no but you want to read the contract and find out what this specifications are and I'm glad you asked that because often they're going to want a donation from the work or they're gonna want like for instance my last for testament they wanted copy of the catalogue which is this guy they wanted several copies of catalog I sent them these I'll show you this little bit later and um usually you donate a piece something at least one photograph to them and you invite them to everything invite them to the opening invite them to your artist talks invite that you stay connected and send them thing after thing after thing thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you because then you might ask again for money two years later right so you stay connected and make sure they know that you care and that you're appreciative of what they've given you and I want to see what you've done with the money um where were we a budget proposal that's a list I'm gonna show you mind to of everything that you're going to spend the money on. Well look at that in a minute again your resume or cvi they want an artist statement and then your portfolio was a lot of stuff and there may even be more depending on the particular one so this is my statement of financial need, so again, you've got your introduction and really what this is is a little kind of different version of my statement of purpose, so in my mind making photographs, I found my core joy, my center and my purpose, the processes let me grace challenge and eliminated me I'm grateful for my life as an artist and intended cherish and nurture and see it flourish they want to know I care basically so it's just a little introduction about why I'm doing what I'm doing for this I actually just to clarify this particular grant didn't ask for a statement of purpose, but they did ask for this, so I kind of put a little statement of purpose there at the beginning so they could have something like that, okay, so currently I'm designing my thesis exhibition, which I plan to begin this summer. I'm extremely excited about the potential the project, and I know it'll be a very meaningful culmination of thought, emotion, energy and my career. The project is a normally enormously ambitious, both physically and financially. While I'm eager to offer my physical efforts to see the concept realized financially, I am in need of a great deal of support give me money, I'm poor basically, you know, I can't make it unless you help me is what I'm saying in my work, I returned to themes of atonement, reconciliation, rebirth, recovery. So if you look at this mess little section it's, all I've done is plucked too this right out of my statement of purpose or my general artist statement that's it just a quick note to I haven't artist statement for every body of work that I've made, and then I have a general artist's statement that is just an umbrella statement about all of my work, and I use it all the time. So that's that's part of that one? Okay, so you're going to want a little bit of a modified artist statement in there, they want to know what your work is about. So next page is a statement of purpose or intent, really, but in this particular application, it was included in one big paper, so I'm telling them for my thesis project, I hope to rent a house in albuquerque for one year. I'm searching for a property that speaks to me, okay? So the first paragraph a little bit there is I'm basically asking for money for the rental house and telling them what I'm doing with it on dh then I go into telling them how I plan to use the house, what I'm going to do with it. My sculptures and the materials that I'm going to need to make the sculptures so I'm listening out in pretty great detail what I'm going to do in the house so they know where the money's going. Um, I also talk about what I'm doing right now, so they know that I'm working now that I'm producing. Okay, so then the last but here tells me tells him the final work will be realized in highly stylized, carefully executed photographs using human models. Um, I imagine that final piece of shows an empty, restructured home stripped of any evidence of installations whitewall been clean in each room, the photograph of corresponding installation will hang on the wall. I picture each material used to create installation, separated by type label and piled neatly in the in the center of every room. This is not what happened, right? Because after this was a year before I made the work, but they want to know that you have a concept in mind that you've got something figured out for what it's gonna look like in the end, that last paragraph is really important. You're telling them what it's going to be, what exactly your making and I didn't know exactly, and you won't. So you just do the best you can to kind of pre visualize what you're going to end up with, so they know exactly what they're paying for. It was similar to this very similar. I had installations in the house and I had photographs. But it was a little different, of course, than the original a statement and that's fine. That's. Okay. Lastly, statement of financial need. So if this is a begging portion, though I feel extremely convicted and excited to make this work financially, this project will be a massive undertaking. Help me. Okay? On average or mental home appropriate for this work in albuquerque ranges between seven hundred thousand dollars per month. And of course, you've got to do your research and find out what things are gonna cost you, right? I won't need electricity, water and gas or to make the work each room. Insulation will require a large mass of material in order to cover the space and its furnishings material cost quantities and building supplies reads insulation very considerably. I've estimated material cost to fluctuate between fifteen hundred and twenty five hundred dollars per room. And that was pretty close, actually. But this time I got all the furniture and stuff in there. I hope to find a home with five or six total rooms I like the furniture each room with discarded unwanted furniture often find these items on craigslist or even in dump side. While this is a smaller portion of bubba my budget I must allow funds for these items as well as rental vehicles to transport items that are oversized trying to really think about every single thing that's going to cost me money and listed in here even rent all cars and stuff to complete. I will need the funds to reserve and compensate models, rent lighting equipment, make large scale prints and frame and mouth to find work so everything from the very beginning renting the house to printing and framing and matting the work is part of the cost of the exhibition. We listen all that stuff in there and then you know, shameless self promotion at the end I'm awesome give me money so I have great confidence in the concept but blah I think progress will be invented, evocative and emotionally charged and I do believe these things you know I do believe it's going to be great um the last minute I know this idea a special, extremely heartfelt and has immense potential. I hope that the work will resonate with current audiences, helps drink, strengthen my boys and build momentum toward finding my place in the art world so it's just kind of I have confidence in this it's gonna be great it's gonna be great fund it you know uh so you need actually that may be the answer to my question but that's your budget yes uh do you present uh receipts for everything sometimes they'll ask you to in the end when once I finish the project they want another version of this that shows where the money actually went and you include your own living expenses no not unless you're on a residency or something like that and you need money related like your your girl or you're going to travel somewhere to make the work and you need money for hotels or something like that yeah this is my proposed budget for the project so the biggest portion of it was a rental house I mean even if I could just get him to pay for that you know that would help so much so I listened that first um than furniture moving vehicles building supplies material costs for five rooms models which I didn't actually end up paying for but just in case right um lighting equipment and rental printing and framing electricity and gas and that's pretty much everything I could think of that was going to cost me money but I mean there were more expenses in the end that I didn't think about there always are so but then I give a total sign it and ate it and again, in the end, what you've completed that work, they're gonna want a list, very specific list of what you actually did. Spend the money on where their money went. Yes, it doesn't happen very often. But what if you end up with extra money? I think, honestly, I don't think it'll happen, because so many things creep up and evened up, spending money, and really, I mean, if you don't spend it the way you thought you would, you could still have money, then to ship, work to exhibitions or everything costs money, you know. So, yeah, I think you'll spend it.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP


Bonus Materials with Purchase

Book Proposal Sample.pdf
Critical Mass - Digital Book.pdf
Curriculum Vitae Example.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 1.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 2.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 3.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

"Thinking about art is not making art." In this inspiring and informative workshop, Jennifer helps you put thought into action - through meaningful self-reflection, exploration and by taking her through her own processes. Through exercises and examples, she explains how to pull out a thread of an idea and develop it into a conceptual project that is informed and invigorated by personal experience, preference, interests, and so much more. Her workshop not only feeds the creative soul, but offers earnest information on taking first steps toward publishing and showing fine-art. Jen so beautifully shares her talent and her love of teaching - I first "met" her on Creative Live and have had the joy of being mentored by her in-person as well. This workshop is a very close second to spending time with her one-on-one. Thank you, CL, for bringing her back!

kalei harmon

I love Jennifer, she's one of my cL favorites! She is such a soulful photographer and her art just resonates with me in so many ways. While she was creating her conceptual piece with the mother and child, my eyes welled up because it was such a profound experience to witness. I appreciate that she has a graduate degree in art and is able to refer to others in the field who are leading the way. She is so genuine and I'm grateful for her willingness to bare her soul to us through her art and process. I've learned so much by watching how she interacts with models and communicates efficiently and gently to get AMAZING poses. Definitely worth the buy if you're looking for inspiration from an artist who creates images which evoke emotion and communicate a message, not just trying to make "great photos." I can't wait to learn about the business side of it all!


I am so grateful for this class; it is just what I have been looking for to help me go beyond my "photographic potty training". By leading us through her own creative process, Jennifer Thoreson invites us to think about why we do what we do and to make our work more meaningful and authentic, creating our unique visual vocabulary. Moreover, she provides detailed info on submitting work to galleries and publications, contests, printing editions, preparing an exhibition and pricing. In her calm, unpretentious manner, Jennifer demystified art without trivializing it and I finally saw light at the end of a rather long tunnel.

Student Work