In our last three Top Tips for artists blog posts, we discussed things to consider in written and visual content for creative opportunity applications and concept design stage. Once the concept design stage is over it’s time to present your concept to whomever is responsible for selecting the preferred artists to be commissioned.
Selection panels can consist of a wide variety of people. Sometimes they are people considered to be art/design/architecture specialists, sometimes they are people with a range of interests or involvement in the wider project or they may be representatives of the communities or organisations in which the artwork will be located. There is likely to be a wide range of knowledge and experience of arts and culture from the professional through to the man/woman on the street. Public art is art for the public, in the public realm and so it should be of interest and engaging to a wide-ranging audience.
"Back in the day", before COVID 19 concept presentations would usually be made in person. 2020 has brought some new and very challenging aspects to our lives including video conferencing. There are many platforms for video conferencing, and everyone has their own preferred application, however you have to be familiar with all of them so that you can work with whatever platform is required. None of these applications are particularly difficult to use but things can go wrong so you should practise using whatever the preferred platform is before you are due to present your concept.
Top tips for concept presentations include
- Get online early, you will have a limited time to present, and you don’t want to waste a minute.
- While presenting talk slowly and calmly, you might be nervous but try not to show it.
- Don’t eat or smoke during a video conference, a glass of water is fine but leave the wine until later.
- Don’t multitask while presenting, this is your one chance to pitch your concept, focus on the presentation and audience.
- Be prepared – have everything you need ready to go and make sure that there is absolutely nothing on your computer that you would not want the world to see when you switch to screen share, no webpages open, personal documents, pictures, emails on screen etc.
- Make sure that you have no distractions during your presentation time, ask families, housemates etc to give you some privacy during your presentation slot. Shut the dogs, cats etc out of the room. Switch your phone off! Just like in the cinema.
- Who's who - again. Be mindful of who’s ‘in the room’, research who’s selecting the preferred artists and understand what their likely interests and concerns might be and what they might be looking for in an artist and or artwork.
- Be prepared for the difficult questions and practice your responses to these prior to the presentation.
- Don’t focus on why you want the commission, every concept artist wants the commission. Instead focus on why your artwork would be best suited to the project and the public audience.
- Finally, be nice, there’s never any need to be rude and if you do get the commission you will be working with some of these people for a very long time.