Friday, December 18, 2009


AOM is published as a PDF because: 1) that format allows the content to appear the same on any system; 2) not every system has all the software to read other formats but Adobe Reader is free and simple to get; 3) the filesize is much smaller than it would be in, say Word; and, last but not least 4) Adobe Reader has an excellent and sophisticated search system. More about all this at

Nevertheless, some reader prefer AOM as a Word file, probably because they are more familiar with that program. An excellent freeware program to convert the .PDF to a .DOC is Free PDF to Word Doc Converter (

Overproduced Artist Sites

During the past few years, I have looked at thousands of artists' sites. The least successful in my opinion are those that are the least straightforward. Such sites are often built with Flash and require the viewer to spend time waiting for things to load. While those are loading, the viewer gets to look at a progress bar which shows the percentage already loaded. Although the amount of time for each message is not really that long, the cumulative effect is that the viewer is more likely to be left with an impression of that progress bar than with the work itself. It's as though you were telling a story and before each line said:"OK, here is the next sentence."

This is not the reason the sites are problematic, it's merely one of the symptoms. Artists understandably want to sell their work, but if the site looks more like an on-line store, with constant references to shopping carts or an exercise to show off a website designer's bag of tricks, it is likely to annoy serious viewers and drive them away in less time than it takes a progress bar to finish.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Responding to Open Deadline Calls

Just got an email from an artist who was upset because a gallery we had listed as having an open deadline call seems to have closed its doors so that her package of images, etc. was returned by the PO as undeliverable. She wasn't happy about that, as who would be.

But it is always risky to send a package to any open-deadline call without contacting them first to see if they are still accepting entries and whether they have any recent special instructions. Not only can doing so save you time and trouble, it makes you appear more professional even if they are not currently accepting work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Christiania Foundation Wants All Rights w/o Compensating Artists

Reader Doug Schwab points out that The Christiania Arts Foundation's “New Classic Nude” Billboard Contest requires anyone who submits work to the contest to give up all rights to that work. The rules state:

I irrevocably grant to Christiania, a non-exclusive license to use and otherwise exploit, as further specified below, my concepts, ideas, communications and/or materials (collectively, “Submission”) for the benefit of Christiania and its affiliates, including, without limitation, Christiania Classic Nude Billboard Contest and other Christiania branded programs and programming services (each, a “Program” and, collectively, the “Programs”), upon the following express understandings and conditions.

AOM had this contest listed as "No entry fee," but that's not quite right. While you don't have to part with cash, giving away your rights to a work could end up costing you plenty. And it's bad practice in any case. Why give a stranger a blank check?

Monday, June 29, 2009

On Line Submission and Jury Software

In case you are wondering about the overhead for on-line contests, it isn't much. One company offers a service that charges $2 per submission. It takes care of uploading the submission and making it available for all the jurors, including an on-line voting or rating system for the jurors to use. It also includes a PayPal processing module. PayPal charges a small basic fee plus a percentage for business accounts. If the submission fee is $25, the PayPal fee is under $1. So the gross profit per submission is $22.

Of course there are jurors fees to pay, but these are usually in the $50-200 range. Zero if you are doing it yourself.

When all submissions were via slides, the jurying process could be a lot of work and involve a good amount of overhead. Jurors had to be present and often had to be paid mileage on top of fees. Staff had to open all the envelopes, extract the slides, load the carosels, run the projectors, process the checks, unload the carosels, re-pack the slides, return them to the artists, supervise the volunteers, and so on. Submission via CDs cut down the work a bit if artists did not require the return of their CDs.

But online submissions involve so much less and should therefore have lower fees. Ask for them.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another One We're not Listing

I have nothing against religion. In fact, we do list various things from Christians in the Visual Arts and others sponsored by synagogues, churches and something run by an Ecclesiastical Arts Foundation, but, whatever the strength of his religious beliefs, the guy behind contest is primarily a merchant in my opinion. He's run these contests for a number of years and stands to make a hefty profit.

Interestingly, the title on the page listing the contest is "Art for God: Retail."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paying Entry Fees to For-Profit Galleries a Bad Deal for Artists

Isadore Gallery in Lancaster, PA, has put out a call for artists, “2009 Juried / Invitational Ceramic Cup Show.” They charge a $20 entry fee. Not an exhorbitant amount. Submission is by CDs only. The juror is a well-known potter. What's not to like? Only this: the gallery is a commercial venture. The business people who are running it are saying in effect: invest in our business. If the juror likes you work, we will show it for about a month. If the juror doesn't like your work, we will not show it. In either case, we get to keep your money. If we happen to sell something, we will give you a percentage of the price. But we think we won't sell very much, which is why we are asking for money from artists up front, before we even take a risk.

There is not evidence that this gallery is anything other than honest. But this is not a good deal for artists. The are some other galleries that operate this way but no other kind of business does. Imagine manufacturing cars or T-shirts or running shows and having to pay a store to look at your product, keeping you money if they didn't want to handle it, keeping you money and holding on to the product for a month if they did what to offer it for sale and then giving you back your product after a month if they didn't sell it.

No, other businesses buy your product outright, at wholesale. If it doesn't sell to their customers, they take the loss. The exception is consignment stores - which include most legitimate galleries -- which represent a very tiny proportion of all the retail outlets. They offer your product without buying it from you first; if it sells you get more than you would have at wholesale; if it doesn't sell, you get it back and they have not lost more than their normal overhead. But they didn't charge you to look at it first.

The main problem with selling anything on consignment, aside from not getting your money up front, is that the store owner (gallerist, proprietor, whatever), has a lot less impetus to sell your item than if he or she had already paid you for it. If that person has already gotten money from you, there is even less impetus.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Future of Public Art Commissions

Most large public art projects are funded through Percent for Art programs (normally 1/2 to 2% of the total cost of a major new building project). This means that the amount of money available will always run behind the state of the economy, as the plans and budgets for those projects are settled long before the projects are begun. Nevertheless, because of serious funding problems in many municipalities and states, a number of projects have been put on hold or cancelled, thus there are fewer public art commissions available than there were a year ago.

If the economy were to turn around tomorrow, though, these projects would not be restored immediately, because of the lag. Similarly, it will take quite a while for new projects to to get to the point where calls for public art are issued.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shorter Lead Times for Many Calls

Whether it's just the summer months or, more likely, unsureness about budgets, the time between an organization's issuing its call for artists and that call's deadline are likely to be shorter than they were, say, a year ago. This is particularly true of smaller municipalities issuing an RFQ. We have seen several recently that have had lead times of one or two weeks. The very short lead times can also be do to simple human factors, as many of the organizations are staffed mainly by volunteers or other humans.

Phoenix Library Gallery not Accepting Proposals Now

@Central Gallery, located on the First Floor of Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix AZ, presents fine art exhibitions featuring the work of emerging and established Arizona artists. Proposals are not being accepted at this time. Submission instructions for exhibition in 2010 will be posted in July 2009.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Book About Death Mail Art Call


Opening, Thursday, 10 September 2009.

Exhibition: 10 - 22 September 2009. Emily Harvey Foundation 537 Broadway New York City, New York 10012 USA

1000 Artists Each Produce Their Edition Of 500 Postcards In The Sprawling Unbound 1000-Page A Book About Death. The Book Will Be A Limited Edition: 500 Copies (Following The Number Of Artist Produced Cards).

An Open Call To Artists Worldwide To Contribute To A BOOK ABOUT DEATH.

A BOOK ABOUT DEATH is an open, unbound book produced by artists worldwide. Artists are invited to create a "page" in the form of a postcard about death– any aspect about death. Works can be of any design, personal or conceptual, color or black and white.

The original work about death stays with you, the artist; the 500 postcards produced from the work is for the exhibition, and are sent to the gallery.

Artists can include any information about themselves on the cards, front or back.

The 500 post cards are then mailed to the gallery in New York City for exhibition. DEADLINE FOR CARDS TO BE IN THE GALLERY: SEPTEMBER 5, 2009.

Details here

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Call for Work Made with Light

Annmarie Garden, an affiliate of The Smithsonian Institution, has issued a call for entries:

A winter exhibit of work with the medium (neon, fiber optics, LED, luminous substances, light graffiti, projections, etc) or subject of light, including large to small scale installations, completed or proposed.

Deadline Oct 2. No fee.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fewer Calls to Artists

There are definitely few calls compared to a year ago at this time. We keep a database of several thousand organizations we have dealt with during the past 10 or more years. The first thing we do when preparing for an issue of AOM is to check the sites of those whose calls we published 12 months previously. A very few sites have have disappeared, a few are still up but clearly haven't been touched in several months and may still be showing last year's call.. Several have messages such as "Please check back to this page beginning January, 2009, for our 2009-10 Call to Artist Information," even though it is now the end of May.

In many cases this lack of action is because of funding cuts, in others, because of the fear of them. Most art centers get a substantial part of their funding from their local governments. In the US, art is seen as "enrichment" -- something that may make life more pleasant but which is not important -- rather than a serious endeavor which can ultimately alter a culture, hence one of the first things to go when budget cuts seem in order.

In many cities and states in the US, as well as in Australia, most of Europe, and in major Canadian cities, percent-for-art programs mandate that 1/2 to 2 percent of the cost of a publicly-funded building or major renovation project be spent on art. The advantage of this system is that funding cannot be cut off through normal budget cuts but would have to be done via new legislation such as was unsuccessfully tried by a Washington state senator. The disadvantage is of course that when there are fewer such projects, there are fewer public art commissions. The real impact of a slowdown might not be seen for a while, as most such building projects are planned and funded long before actual work starts.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

George Sugarman Foundation Drops Artist Grant Program

The George Sugarman Foundation is no longer offering grants to individual artists but will "continue to serve the wishes of George Sugarman through the donation of his artworks to institutions, museums and universities throughout the United States.

The last artist to receive a grant was AOM subscriber John E. Stallings. More of Stallings's work is on his site.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Calls for Public Art Trending Toward Local Restrictions

Compared to two years ago, a greater percentage of calls for public art RFQs or RFPs are being restricted to artists living within the state the call originates in. Sometimes they are limited to those within a region and sometimes within a city itself. As a general rule, those limited to a city are normally those with smaller budgets or which deal specifically with the history of the city.

A certain amount of this territorial restriction is -- territorial. It comes from artists and their supporters pressuring the issuing agencies to "keep the money at home."

Steve Fairfield has been keeping us up to date on the goings-on in Washington state, where Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, first sponsored a bill to eliminate mandatory funding of public art. According to Hobbs: "I respectfully disagree with members of the arts community who feel the Art in Public Places program should be sacrosanct. What message are we sending to struggling middle-class families across our state when we force our agencies to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on art while our children’s favorite teachers are being handed pink slips?" He continued: "I am not an opponent of the arts, merely a proponent of common sense public policy that reflects the values of most of the people in this state."

He apparently assumes his constituents -- and artists -- don't understand a budget, whether personal, business or legislative always represents priorities; the higher the dollar amount, the higher the priority. Zero dollars = zero priority = not interested.

When that bill failed, Hobbs pushed a bill to limit the funds to artists living within the state. It got enough support from artists and their state representatives that It passed. On May 15, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the bill.

"I'm disappointed," Hobbs said. "I was just trying to help more artists in the state of Washington."

At least he wasn't using art as a political football. He would never do that. Nor would any other politician.

FAQ Double Icon Problem Solved, Tips Also Up

Double icon problem fixed at AOM FAQ. More tweaking later. Please let me know about anything that needs correcting or if you think of any questions/answers that should be up there.

The Tips page is also up in its beta stage. Since this is made up of various bits and pieces of AOM cover letters of about the past two or three years years, there is a certain amount of repetition. Tried to bring things up to date and did a fair amount of pruning but more probably needed. Let me know if you see anything that needs more work.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bedford Gallery Opening

There's a post over at The Cranky Artist that's worth reading. We published the Bedford Gallery's call to artists for this show, but are not too happy about having done so.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Notes, May 09 Issue

As promised, some notes about the most recent issue, May 09:

The Art Center in Corvallis OR seems to be out of business and the domain name,, is for sale.

Abstract EXPOsure is what I call a contest site. It's not really a gallery, just an online presence that collects money from artists who want to gamble $30 or more that they will win $200 against possibly hundreds of competitors. I don't know how many entries AE gets, but if it gets only seven, it's made its "nut." If everything about this site is completely legitimate, and I'm not suggesting it's not, it's still a bad deal. There are a handful of other places like this, a few of them run by a computer science instructor in Colorado. The fact is anyone with moderate Web building skills, or access to someone who has, can set up an online gallery and hold a contest.

The "Florence Biennale" is at it again. This is strictly a vanity venue. Anyone who pays the fee can get in. It is cleverly marketed, in that it fools the kind of people who are easily fooled. One thing they do -- an old trick, actually -- is give awards to prominent artists. It doesn't mean the big name artists are present at the show or even know about it. It simply means that the producers, two brothers who own a commercial art studio in Florence, can use the names in their promotion. Your local art club -- or bridge club or Cub Scout Troop -- could do the same thing. But probably won't.

This year, the "invitation" from FB to artists is at least candid enough to state: "The exhibition is entirely funded by artists, that can search for sponsors independently in their own country." (This language probably added as a result of a law suit or threatened suit.) The sad thing is that in years past I have seen small countries and local law firms dish out money to sponsor their local artists who had been invited, not knowing that the invitations were the email equivalent of the old letters stating "You may already have won!!!" on the envelope. But "Florence Biennale" sounds so much better than, say "West Podunk Biennale," doesn't it? But they would otherwise be essentially the same thing. So hopeful, naive and needy people are fooled. A few years ago, I did some calculations on how much it would cost an artist to show and be present. Something in excess of $10,000 the figure was, especially since the FB strongly recommended its own shippers. For that amount you could promote you work in a much effective way. Or set up your own Biennale.

Further elucidation of the AOM ratings system: The "Editor's choices" are marked with |+| because I think they give an especially good value or are prestigious or are different and interesting. Everything is not about money. Those marked ~ (tilde) are pretty much ones that I didn't feel justified in leaving out but which really didn't seem to be good value. Basically, that means that their entry fees didn't seem to justify their awards, which were often non-existet. Nevertheless, I included them because they might be near enough to some subscriber to be worth looking into.

In once case I remember I upgraded a listing after a representative of the show -- of miniatures -- pointed out that although they didn't give much in the way of prizes, the tiny works were very cheap for the artists to ship and judging was directly from the work, so slides, CDs and cameras didn't have to enter into the equation.

Well, that's the start. Open for questions.