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The Benefits of an Artist Residency

Artist Residency programs give artists the opportunity to live and work outside of their usual environments, providing them with time to reflect, discover and create work. Thankfully, there are a wide-range of prestigious and lesser-known artist residency opportunities for creatives is all disciplines. The possibilities can seem endless!

The Alliance of Artist Communities (AAC), an international membership association of artist residencies estimates there are 500 artists’ communities in the United States and more than 1,500 worldwide, with more than 30,000 artists participating in residencies every year. With so much to choose from, how do you decide what art residency is right for you?

Choose an Artist Residency Wisely

There are several publications and online guides that describe the many types of residencies around the world for artists in all creative disciplines.  The quality of life and career development a residency can provide to participating creatives can also be a much needed retreat for an artists to focus solely on their work in often beautiful settings with organic meals and lush scenery. Residencies may provide a stipend to the artist, a work-study arrangement, or fee. In the spirit of shedding light on groundbreaking artist residency opportunities, we have gathered advice and insights from key stakeholders in the world of art residencies here as a guide to selecting the best artist residency for you!

artist residency
Get Advice for Artist Residencies! (Pictured Helen Wurlitzer Foundation, New Mexico, one of the oldest artist residency programs in the U.S.)

Before selecting and applying to an artist residency, first make sure you solicit advice from alumni of the program and research reviews from artists who have already share their thoughts on their experience.

Online residency review sites like ResArtis give artists the ability to gain an inside look into residency pros and cons prior to signing on the dotted line. With feedback from past artists-in-residence, artist communities come together to provide fair, level-headed insights into the resources and support level new residents can expect at each residency. Second only to attending an info session, these websites focus on providing real-time, honest reviews, documenting the level of quality residency applicants can expect via crowdsourced reflections from the artists who have personally experienced these opportunities.

When weighing which residency you apply to it can be critical to examine the personal factors that will weigh on the types of opportunities you are seeking out. Rivet Co-Founder, and founder, Rate My Residency, Katrina Neumann reflects on the different concerns that artists applying to residencies will be considering during their research into the best options available to them. In her interview with Arts Podcast “The Conversation”, Neumann reflects on the aspects of a residency that mean the most to the artists applying. “A residency does break down to factors such as time, space, money, and networking. For example, if you have a family and you need to get out to work, this residency could be cheaper than a studio in New York City… it’s cheaper to go to a residency that allows families. As an individual, you have to weigh this opportunity versus something more local.” A practicing artist herself, Neumann weighs in on the benefits that a good residency imparts on participating artists. “I’m a believer in these residencies,” she endorses. “Creativity is born in spaces when you have time.”

Focus on Professional Development

artist-in-residence
Golden Artist Residency, New York State. Photo courtesy of Rate My Residency.

With innumerable residencies to choose from, artists should focus on specific opportunities aligned with their career and professional practice. One particular residency open to painters who are seeking a supportive, environment facilitating networking and providing ample resources is Golden Artist Residency. Open to artist residents working as painters, the residency has built up a reputation since 2012 as a site for painters to receive instruction, networking opportunities, large studio space, and much more. Envisioned by and supported by the family behind Golden Artist Colors, the residency allows artists the rare opportunity to get hands-on experience in color mastery with industry insiders. Barbara Golden, Golden Foundation Director, notes that the residency offers ample opportunity for hands-on professional development. “Residents meet face to face with the Material Application Specialists of the company, and participate in six to eight sessions of in-depth analysis of the properties of hundreds of acrylic, oil, and watercolor paints and mediums, by creating sample boards,” reflects Golden.  “Sessions also include sharing information on the latest available research of the paints, health and safety issues, best studio practices, and environmentally friendly methods for disposal of waste materials in the studio, to name just a few. Additionally, the technicians are available for one-on-one consulting with the artists, on any projects, concerns, or road blocks regarding their artwork.  The labs are often tasked with creating a custom product for the artists, based on their ideas and requests.”

Golden also provides specific insights into how artists are supported in the development of new projects over the course of their residency. “We assist artists in the professional development of their careers by providing them with resources and materials that have been rigorously tested and backed by research, and that are state of the art.  As artists search for new ideas, materials often become paramount to their projects.  We believe that an artist’s professional development should include the practice of being responsible for the production of their work, for understanding best practices and techniques, and for making best choices about the materials they use. “

Build Community and Networking

In addition to artist open studio events open to the public, and e-blasts and social media announcements promoting their artists, Golden Artist Residency centers their resources around creating networking opportunities for artists in their residencies by ensuring they sustain vibrant artist communities. “Studios at the residency are open studios, this is not the kind of residency where an artist can close a door and be isolated.  There is much interaction between the residents, attending the Technical programs together, learning by listening to each other’s questions, comparing samples and samples and samples of dried paint and medium surfaces that they have generated.” Golden hones in on the potential for artists to realize their potential by engaging with other artists also in the residency.

“Art residencies create dialogue and a community that often keeps in touch with each other long after the 4 weeks of residency ends. The opportunity to interact with each other, to share meals, to be together with like-minded professional artists, allows artists of all ages, to develop professionally.  Additionally, we visit other local residencies, further widening the residents’ connections with others who have come from all over the world.”

  • The amount of artist residencies available to creatives  in all art disciplines is substantial.
  • Whether looking for a residency opportunity that will launch your career or a retreat to escape it all, invest your time and energy wisely. Research artist residencies and read reviews.
  • Pursue and select artist residencies that create dialogue, opportunities and facilitate stronger artist communities for participants.

Familiar with artist residency opportunities? Want to share your own feedback from residencies you’ve attended, or have advice for artists headed off to a residency for the first time? Share your insights in the comments below!

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