Securing Artist Grants: Effective Strategies
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Research the right grants
  2. Create a strong portfolio
  3. Write a compelling proposal
  4. Get feedback on your application
  5. Submit your application early
  6. Follow up after submission

Let's talk about one of the most significant steps in any artistic career - securing artist grants and fellowships. The process can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you're new to the game. But, with the right tools and strategies, you can make the process more manageable and significantly increase your chances of success. This blog will guide you through some effective strategies for securing artist grants and fellowships. Let's get started!

Research the Right Grants

Before you start filling out applications, it's important to spend some time researching available grants. You can't just apply for every grant you come across; you need to make sure it's the right fit for you and your work. Here's how to go about doing that:

Identify Your Needs

First, you need to have a clear idea of what you're looking for. Are you looking for monetary support to complete a project? Do you need a residency to focus on your work? Or maybe you're after a fellowship to further your studies? Identifying your needs will help you filter grants and focus on those that align with your goals.

Use Online Resources

Next, use online resources to find grants that match your needs. Websites like the National Endowment for the Arts, Craft Research Fund Artist Fellowship, and others offer lists of available artist grants and fellowships. You can sort through these by discipline, location, and more, helping you find the best options for you.

Check Eligibility Requirements

Once you have a list of potential grants, it's time to check the eligibility requirements. This step is important because it ensures you don't waste your time on grants you can't qualify for. Look at the fine print and make sure you meet all the necessary criteria before moving forward.

Understand the Grant's Purpose

Lastly, understanding the purpose of the grant can give you an edge when applying. What is the grantor's mission? What kind of projects or artists are they looking to support? Answering these questions can help you tailor your application to fit their objectives and increase your chances of securing artist grants and fellowships.

Remember, the key here is specificity. The more specific you are in your research, the better your chances of finding the right grants and fellowships for you. So, take your time, do your homework, and happy grant hunting!

Create a Strong Portfolio

Once you've found the right grants, the next step in securing artist grants and fellowships is to create a strong portfolio. This is your chance to showcase your work and make a powerful impression on the grant committee. Here's how to build a portfolio that stands out:

Show Your Best Work

Your portfolio should be a collection of your strongest pieces. These should not only demonstrate your technical ability, but also your unique artistic voice. Choose pieces that represent your style, your themes, and your vision as an artist. Remember, quality trumps quantity. It's better to have a few excellent pieces than a dozen mediocre ones.

Include a Variety of Works

While it's important to have a cohesive style, you should also show your versatility as an artist. Include a variety of works that demonstrate different skills and techniques. This not only shows your breadth as an artist, but also keeps your portfolio interesting and engaging.

Present Your Work Professionally

How you present your work can be just as important as the work itself. Your portfolio should look professional and be easy to navigate. High-quality images, clear descriptions, and a clean layout can all contribute to a positive impression. Consider creating an online portfolio, which allows you to easily share your work and update it as needed.

Include an Artist's Statement

Finally, don't forget to include an artist's statement. This should be a brief description of your work, your inspiration, and your artistic goals. It's your chance to give context to your work and to express your unique perspective as an artist.

Remember, your portfolio is a reflection of you as an artist. It's your chance to show the grant committee why you deserve the grant. So, take your time, choose your works carefully, and create a portfolio that you're proud of.

Write a Compelling Proposal

After crafting a strong portfolio, the next pivotal step in securing artist grants and fellowships is writing a compelling proposal. This is your opportunity to articulate your project idea, its significance, and how the grant will aid in its realization. Let's dive into the specifics:

Define Your Project Clearly

First things first, you need to clearly define your project. What is the concept? What's the motivation behind it? Why is it important? Be concise yet detailed in your explanation, making sure anyone—artist or not—can grasp your vision.

Explain Why You Need the Grant

Next, you need to justify why you need the grant. Will it help you buy materials or equipment? Does it enable you to dedicate time to your project? Or perhaps it will fund research for your work? Be specific and transparent about where the money will go. Grant committees appreciate knowing their funds will be used effectively.

Describe Your Goals and Expected Outcomes

Describe what you plan to achieve with the project and the potential impact it could have. Are you hoping to engage with a particular community? Do you aim to challenge or explore specific ideas or issues? Conveying the potential reach and impact of your project can make your proposal more compelling.

Proofread and Edit

Last, but definitely not least—proofread and edit. Nothing undermines a good proposal like typos and grammatical errors. Ensure your proposal is polished and professional. Don't hesitate to ask for a second opinion; fresh eyes can spot mistakes you might have missed.

Remember, your proposal is not merely a formality—it's a key component of your application. A well-written, compelling proposal can significantly increase your chances of securing artist grants and fellowships.

Get Feedback on Your Application

Securing artist grants and fellowships isn't a solo mission. It's smart to tap into the wisdom of others before you submit your application. Here's a guide on how to make the most out of your feedback sessions:

Identify the Right People

First, figure out who to ask. Ideally, you'll want people who understand art and grant applications, but it's also worth asking people who aren't familiar with your work. Different perspectives can give you valuable insights and highlight areas you might have overlooked.

Ask Specific Questions

Don't just ask, "What do you think?" Guide your reviewers with specific questions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Is my project description clear?
  • Does my need for the grant come across as genuine and well-justified?
  • Do my goals and expected outcomes seem achievable and impactful?

Having a clear list of questions can make the review process easier and more efficient for everyone involved.

Be Open to Criticism

Feedback can be tough to hear, but remember: it's meant to make your application stronger. So, take a deep breath, keep your mind open, and listen. Sure, not all feedback will be applicable, but you might find gold in what others have to say.

Revise Based on Feedback

After gathering feedback, it's time to revise. Make sure you address the issues your reviewers raised. But remember, at the end of the day, it's your application. Stay true to your vision while incorporating feedback that enhances it.

Through careful consideration of feedback, you're not just improving your chances of securing artist grants and fellowships—you're also learning to see your work through others' eyes, a valuable skill for any artist.

Submit Your Application Early

When it comes to securing artist grants and fellowships, timing is key. Every artist knows the pain of last-minute rush. So let's take a different approach — one that's less stressful and more organized.

Beat the Deadline

Submitting your application early has many benefits. For starters, it demonstrates professionalism and respect for the grant organization's time. Plus, it gives you a buffer for any unexpected issues, like technical glitches or additional document requests. So, aim to submit at least a week before the deadline. That might sound ambitious, but with good planning, it's doable.

Create a Submission Timeline

How do you ensure you're ready to submit early? The answer is simple: a submission timeline. Here's a basic template you can adapt:

  1. Understand the grant requirements: Day 1
  2. Start drafting your proposal: Day 2-3
  3. Finalize your portfolio: Day 4
  4. First round of revisions: Day 5
  5. Get feedback: Day 6-7
  6. Final revisions: Day 8
  7. Submit: Day 9

With this timeline, you're submitting a day before a 10-day deadline. Adjust according to your actual deadline, but the principle remains: plan backwards from your submission date.

Check, Check, and Check Again

Before you hit the submit button, triple-check everything. Is your contact information correct? Have you attached all the required documents? Are there typos or formatting issues? A final review can save you from regrets and increase your chances of securing artist grants and fellowships.

Remember, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the grant. By submitting your application early, you show that you're serious, organized, and respectful — qualities that can only paint you in a good light.

Follow Up After Submission

Once you've submitted your application for the artist grant or fellowship, you might think it's time to sit back and wait. But there's something else you can do: follow up. This step is often overlooked, yet it can be a game changer in securing artist grants and fellowships.

Why Follow Up?

Following up shows your interest and enthusiasm without being overbearing. It's a subtle way to remind grant committees about your application and demonstrate your proactive nature. Plus, it can provide you with valuable feedback!

When and How to Follow Up

Typically, a gentle nudge after two weeks is appropriate. You don't want to come across as pushy, so here's a simple guideline for you:

  1. Week 1-2 after submission: Silence is golden. Allow the committee some time to process the applications.
  2. Week 3: Send a polite email enquiring about the status of your application.

Remember, your aim is to express your continued interest in the grant, not to rush the committee. Maintain a polite and respectful tone throughout.

Handling Feedback and Response

When you receive a response, treat any feedback with gratitude—even if it's not the news you were hoping for. Feedback is an opportunity to improve and refine your application for future grants and fellowships. Remember, every 'no' gets you closer to a 'yes'.

Following up after submission is an underrated strategy in securing artist grants and fellowships. So don't just wait—take action! Your future self will thank you.

If you're looking to secure artist grants and want to learn more effective strategies, the workshop 'Applying for Your MFA (Masters in Fine Art)' by Ciarra K. Walters might be a great resource for you. While the workshop focuses on applying for an MFA, many of the strategies discussed can also be applied to securing artist grants. Dive into the workshop to gain valuable insights and tips that can give you an edge when applying for grants to support your artistic endeavors.