Posts filed under ‘Entrepreneurship’

Artist as entrepreneur: the new paradigm

So where are the models for these kinds of partnerships? Whom can we look to when we want to figure out how to move forward?

Dave Eggers, to me, represents a new model for the 21st century artist: someone who makes his own work, but who also finds new and interesting ways to distribute that work.

He starts organizations. And then scales them up. And he writes. And he makes movies.  He builds the tightly-knit intellectual community that he wants to be a part of.  Dave Eggers is a man that builds communities and creates social change. And he does that by making art and by helping other people make art.

826 Valencia, his tutoring center and pirate supply store was the first of what has become a national 826-tutoring-center-empire.

Then, in addition to a few different publishing enterprises and growing list of books and articles, a few specific pieces have an overtly social purpose. Two of his recent books recount the stories of people who have been struggling to build and rebuild their lives: a Sudanese refugee in What is the What, and a man heavily impacted by hurricane Katrina in Zeitoun.

A friend of mine who works for him once told me, “Dave Eggers has his fingers in many pies.”

Which is all to say, THAT IS SO MUCH TO HAVE DONE! That is so much community building. That is so much art. That is so much social change—no matter how you measure it or how unmeasurable it is, no matter how successful, or unsuccessful, any one project is. This is an artist who engages with and shapes the world.

Now of course, everybody’s different. It’s possible that Dave Eggers is a super-human artist-entrepreneur-bot who doesn’t sleep, and he certainly has skills and opportunities I don’t have. So, at this point, it seems pretty likely that I will not become another Dave Eggers.

However, I think that artist-nonprofit partnerships are right in line with this paradigm, and are exactly the kind of exciting projects that help to build stronger communities and create social change. Each of the photographers who has submitted to PhotoPhilanthropy is also an entrepreneur. So what I am doing is informed by having examples out there like Dave Eggers, and I am grateful for and inspired by that.

November 27, 2009 at 1:30 am 1 comment

Opportunities for artists and nonprofits

Part II: GRANT AGGREGATORS AND PUBLICATION

So, as we know, actually doing projects and making partnerships takes resources. And then getting the work you’ve done out to a large audience takes even more resources. And finding those resources, publication opportunities and exhibition opportunities is a challenge. I have yet to find the definitive artist-opportunity aggregator, but I’m searching hard, and  I have found a few grant/call aggregators that I think are terrific.

Grant Aggregators

1. The best of them are all at the state level, so I suggest finding your state arts organization’s website. I’ve looked at California’s—the California Arts Council—and Arizona’s—the Arizona Commission on the Arts—and they are both terrific.

2. The New York Foundation for the Arts lists national grants and calls for work. They have a searchable database and lots of other resources on their site. This is an excellent resource.

3. Then there is Call for Entry, a site that aggregates opportunities for the Western States. It posts a lot of hyper-local opportunities that you have to wade through to find what’s relevant, but it also has a lot of content and a streamlined application system so that you can upload images only once and then use them to apply to multiple opportunities. (Hey grantosphere—we need more of this! More streamlining of applications!! How can I possibly work to support myself, and make my art, and apply for dozens of different grants with different applications all at the same time? I can’t! It makes me terribly cranky!)

4. And there is the Foundation Center, the go-to source for nonprofits that lists some arts grants as well. They have a lot of different support services, including a massive database of foundations that is accessible via the web, for a subscription fee, or for free via a “cooperating collection” (click here to find the one nearest you).

Publication Opportunities

There is also the issue of getting your work out there so that you have an audience…and also so that you can build the credibility to make you a better candidate to receive grants. I am still hunting for more of these kinds of opportunities, but a few whose tone I appreciate are below.

1. Jen Bekman is an arts entrepreneur whom I admire very much (I recommend following her on twitter; @jenbee). She has a lot of great things going on which I will mention in future posts, but one of her projects is the blog Hey, Hot Shot! which, like PhotoPhilanthropy, posts and discusses the work of many photographers who submit themselves for support. Here is a longer description of what it is and how to apply.

Kipp Wettstein via Hey, Hot Shot!

2. The Aperture Foundation has the “portfolio prize,” with the added bonus of using the grant process as a way to scout for book proposals. When you submit a portfolio, it gets looked at by the editors of Aperture books, which makes the application worth your while, even if you don’t win the prize.

3. Photo Lucida’s Critical Mass competition is similar—only this time the prize is the book publication. The organization seeks to build community at the same time by distributing the book they end up creating to all applicants (a project subsidized by the hefty entry fee of around $75). Updates for the competition are available on their blog.

4. There is also an organization called the Magenta Foundation: Publishing for the Arts, that has just launched the Flash Forward Festival to promote and exhibit emerging photographers in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. In the past they have also published books. Submissions now being accepted for 2010. Deadline: Dec 31, 2009.

5. And, of course, more and more people are jumping into the self-publishing that internet companies like Lulu and Blurb have made so popular, and that is a great way to catalogue a partnership in a way that shows off both organization and artist. These sites allow you to create a book and then order copies as you need them, which is good for both parties. Make a book. Hand it out. Achieve instant fame and glory.

So that’s a start. Please comment below if you have resources to add.

November 25, 2009 at 9:07 am 1 comment


"In this way his work is more powerful in its moments of creation, when real human interactions are eroding racial stereotypes, than in its exhibition. And if the work succeeds, it is not because Subotzky can use a camera like no one else, it is because his photographs embody his efforts to confront social injustice on a personal level." --Charles Schultz on Mikhael Subotzky

PhotoPhilanthropy’s blog is written by Eliza Gregory

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