The Self Made Artist Residency: Part 1, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Are you tired of applying for and getting rejected from artist residency programs? This is the start of a 3 part article that will guide you step by step on how to start your own self made artist residency.

After many dollars and hours spent applying for and being rejected from numerous artist residencies, I decided to make my own in sunny Florida at the start of this year. I posted about it almost every day on social media which generated a lot of interest from artist friends who had never considered this for themselves. I got many questions regarding how I did it, so I’ve broken down my process into three posts. This first one is a list of considerations I thought about and that you should think about before embarking on your residency adventure. The second is a step by step process for organizing your budget, location, accommodations, etc. The third outlines how I carved out an artist studio from a fishing cabin in rural Florida and the work I made while there. I hope this series helps you to buck the system and make your own way in residency bliss! It might also help you to refer to Residencies: The Artist Kind, a blog post I wrote about choosing and applying for a residency program.

I have been fortunate enough to have been awarded a few residencies in the past, so I have something to compare with my self-made residency and while there are obvious similarities there are also plenty of differences between the two. For some, being completely responsible for oneself as well as spending time alone is a dream, but for others, it might be pretty scary. In some cases the good things I’ve listed might be considered bad things and visa-versa. Consider this list just food for thought before you make the jump. After reading, scroll down for some digital drawings I made during my residency and visit my Instagram for more.

The Good

  • You have no responsibilities to anyone but yourself, you can do what you want when you want.
  • You can be in perfect solitude, choosing when and if you would like to socialize.
  • No requirements to donate work, open your studio, offer a lecture/workshop, work in the kitchen, etc.
  • No application process, essay writing or asking friends to be a reference for you.
  • You choose where, when, what, how and how long.

The Bad

  • You have no stipend and therefore absorb all financial responsibilities for your residency.
  • You are responsible for all household duties-cook, clean, shop, laundry, etc. These are things you likely do at home, but might not want to do during a residency.
  • No studio visits or critiques.
  • No impressive or prestigious line to add to your resume.
  • Likely, no designated studio space in which to be messy.

The Ugly

  • You have to know yourself. Know who you are and what you can accomplish away from the structure of being at home. For example, if you don’t have a regular studio practice at home, you aren’t going to magically establish one away from home.
  • Do you feel uncomfortable away from home? When you travel, does it take you a long time to acclimate to a strange place? Do you need a lot of time and/or a lot of space to create your work? Do you need a ton of materials at your disposal to make your work? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re likely not a good candidate for a self-made residency. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a new place and it takes you a long time to make yourself at home, your creative energies will not be flowing and your time and money will be wasted.
  • Although you’re traveling, this isn’t a vacation, you need to get to work. Know why you want to do this and roughly what it is you’d like to accomplish. Have some goals set and set up some kind of structure to your days. Even if you don’t accomplish all of your goals, you can at least strive for something good to happen during your residency.
  • You are alone with yourself and your thoughts. This might be pretty ugly for some, but it was amazingness for me.

Author: lorraineglessner

I'm a mixed media artist, workshop instructor and former assistant professor at tyler school of art in Philadelphia, PA.

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