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First Impressions - Written Submissions

2020 has been a terrible year. It has affected every part of life, and no one is untouched. The creative industries have been decimated with many left out of work, projects, exhibitions, and events cancelled. The future remains completely uncertain for us all.

As we go forward, the creative industries - which were always highly competitive - will only become more so. With this in mind, T Projects are undertaking a series of blog posts with a variety of advice and top tips for artists, sharing our knowledge and experience in the hope that we can give something back. If Covid 19 is to teach us anything, it is that we must think as we and not me.

We process 100s of artist’s applications for various opportunities. We see lots of great and some not-so-great applications. Here’s some basic things to keep in mind when responding to creative opportunities bearing in mind this is your opportunity to make a great first impression.

- Read all the information provided very carefully, make sure you understand all available information, if you still don’t understand aspects of the information supplied ask for further explanation or discuss the application with other creative professionals to ensure you have a clear understanding of the project and the opportunity. Don’t try and make a new friend in the person who is the contact for the opportunity, chances are they will be inundated with incoming calls and emails…

- Having read and fully understood the information available, consider carefully whether this opportunity is suited to your artistic practise and experience – applying for things that are not suited to your practice is a waste of your time. Serial applicants who apply for everything and anything stand out for the wrong reasons.

PLEASE DO NOT apply for commissions that are specifically for Indigenous artists unless you are Indigenous. (yes, we’ve had that…)

- Make sure you supply what has been requested and only what has been requested, submitting excessive materials which have not been requested doesn’t make a good impression.

- If there’s a guide for word count - stick to that - don’t go over if you can and try not to be too far under, these guidelines are provided as they are what the client/commissioner is expecting and wanting - submitting more only gives the impression you haven’t read the instructions properly.

- Don’t provide information that is not relevant to the application, don’t share personal information that has no bearing on your artistic practise, or the opportunity being advertised. They don't need to know your shoe size.

- S-P-E-L-L-C-H-E-C-K… always – every time.

- First impressions count. Always consider your tone, both in written and verbal communications – there is never any reason to be negative, patronising, stroppy or rude. Submissions are the first point of contact in what hopefully become longer term relationships with a number of people. There’s no need to SHOUT - using capitals, bold or underlined text can come across as aggressive.

- Double check all your information before submitting, including checking all weblinks are live, email addresses, phone numbers, references, current job roles and contact details, etc.

- Be project specific – do not to copy and paste across different applications. For example, if you are applying for a commission make sure you list all commissions to date clearly and separately from exhibitions etc.

- Always be truthful - don’t over exaggerate, it’s a small world and you will be found out.

- If applying as an artist’s collective be clear on how you propose this will work and why you want to apply collectively.

- Who’s who - find out who’s involved in the shortlisting and selection processes, research their backgrounds and likely interests.

- Consider carefully who to list as a reference and check with them first. Will they provide a positive enthusiastic reference for you? Do they have a strong reputation themselves? Consider who you are aligning yourself with.


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