What is an Artist Proposal?
An artist proposal (or art proposal) is a type of proposal an artist submits to an organization such as an art show, art exhibition, or art grant body to receive support for their artistic endeavors. This support can be financial, as in the case of an art grant proposal, or it can be in the form of exposure by including the artist’s work in an art exhibition, festival, or similar event.
Artists are great at what they do, creating art, but they are often caught off guard by the intricate task of advocating for themselves and selling their work to advance their careers. An art proposal is a critical part of this because the ability to write them persuasively can mean the difference between living as a starving artist and having your projects be fully supported.
Note: Sign-up now to get your free artist proposal template. We’ll guide you step-by-step to create a highly-effective artist proposal.
What to Include in the Artist proposal
Your first instinct might be to jump right in and start writing, but the first step to writing an art proposal is actually to research the organization you’re submitting your proposal to. You need to understand who they are, what they’re looking for, and ultimately make sure this opportunity is right for you.
Next, you’ll want to acquire the guidelines from the organization that will be reviewing your art proposal. Following these guidelines is essential, as many organizations will dismiss your proposal immediately if they are not met. The specific requirements can vary widely from exhibition to exhibition, or grant to grant, but here are some of the most important points and support materials to include to get you started:
This is your cover letter. Keep in mind that the reviewers will likely be reading through hundreds of applications, so it is important to craft a strong introduction that hooks their attention and quickly explains the what, when, why, where, and how of your proposal within the first few lines.
You might consider including an artist’s statement that your artwork addresses to help clarify why it is an important contribution.
Discussion of central themes and objectives
Now that you’ve captured your reader’s attention and explained the general scope of your artwork, it is time to provide the details. Here you’ll expand on the themes and objectives of your work and describe exactly what you’re aiming to accomplish with this organization’s support.
This section of the art proposal will be highly specific to the nature of the art that you make, but here are some questions to ask yourself if you find yourself at a loss for what to include:
- Why is it important?
- How is my project connected to past work they have supported?
- How does it build on, or depart from, your other artistic works?
- Why is my project urgent?
- Why do I need this organization's help to accomplish the project?
- How will I make the project happen?
- What resources will I need to make it happen?
- How will I get those resources?
- Where and when will I make my art?
- Where and when will it be exhibited, performed, or published?
Status of your work
This section will depend heavily on what your goals are for your art proposal. If you’re seeking funding or assistance with a future art project, then featuring the status of your work will function as a resume, allowing you to make the case that you have the skills and experience necessary to accomplish your objective. Otherwise, this section might be used to showcase the work you’d like to have displayed in an art exhibition or a gallery.
This is your opportunity to make an impression, so don’t skimp on quality. If you don’t have the skills to properly photograph your work, consider hiring a professional, especially if your art is to be considered for a show or exhibit.
When asking for funding or assistance as a visual artist, art grant proposal reviewers want to know what their money is being used for. Be specific about any required items or materials, any equipment you’ve already secured, or any locations where you’ll need access to complete the project. Laying them out as line items might help the reviewers to clearly see the breakdown.
Your goal here is to provide enough detail that the client can clearly visualize what will be needed to bring the project to completion. You likely won’t have an opportunity to fill in gaps and answer questions before they come to a decision, so be thorough in your proposal.
Not every art proposal requires a budgeting plan, but if you’re applying for a grant or asking for financial assistance with your art, you should include this as a supplement to the information you included in the ‘materials’ section of the proposal.
Be as accurate with your budget as possible, and make sure your budget reflects the rest of your proposal. Including unrelated expenses here that aren’t mentioned elsewhere can break trust and lead to your proposal being rejected.
Wrap up your proposal by highlighting the impact your project will have and your excitement for it. Abruptly cutting off a proposal without a conclusion is bad form, and risks hinting at a lack of seriousness and professionalism in one’s own work.
Why Use an Art Proposal Template?
Occasionally a potential client may include a checklist to help you ensure you’ve included everything you need, but if they don’t (or even if they do) it is usually a good idea to use an art proposal template.
When you use an art proposal template, you don't have to worry about how your proposal should be structured. Using an art proposal template allows you to focus on important information that will help you win your bid into sections that have already been outlined.
With an art proposal template, you don’t have to build your proposal from scratch every time, helping you avoid accidentally leaving out important information. Not to mention the time and energy you save by having a structure in place. An art proposal template improves every aspect of your art proposal by keeping things simple, organized, and as informative as possible.
Creating an Art Proposal is Simple With Bonsai
We’ve created an Artist Proposal Template that is free for you to use and adapt to your specific needs, allowing you to focus on the content of your proposal and not worry about the structure and formatting.
Forget spending countless hours writing. All you need to do is create an account for free, download either the blank proposal template or use our editable art proposal template—just follow the prompts, enter your information, and the template automatically completes the proposal for you!
Sign-up now to get your free art proposal template and get started on creating your high-quality art proposal.
Art Proposal FAQs
How do you create an Art Proposal?
This depends on if you want to use a tool for writing or an artist proposal template to make the task easier. An art proposal can be written in any Word, Google docs, etc so long as you know how to use the software and follow the guidelines set out by the receiving organization.
On the other hand, if you use a tool like Bonsai, the artist proposal template takes care of all of the structure and formatting for you, so you can focus on making sure your writing is clear and persuasive.
What should I NOT include in my art proposal?
Avoid making obvious statements, like that you need money or assistance for your art. Including these statements is unprofessional and can make it seem like you didn’t research the organization you’re submitting the art grant proposal to.
Avoid using language or statements that risk alienating your readers. Again, this is unprofessional writing and it conveys a lack of respect for the process and the organization you’re submitting the proposal to.
What to do if my art proposal is rejected?
Dealing with rejection is difficult, but it can also be an important part of the learning process. Writing an artist proposal takes a lot of time and dedication, time that you’d probably rather spend creating art, but it is a critical skill for any artist to have in their toolkit.
If your art proposal is rejected, remember that great opportunity invites strong competition. Follow up with the reviewers and ask if they have time to let you know which areas of your art proposal need work. Getting feedback at this stage is critical, as it can allow you to turn rejection into an opportunity to learn and grow.