Friday, March 1, 2024
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What to do When the Answer is No…and also Yes…

Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. Sometimes when we plan for one outcome, we encounter another entirely. Often, it takes an open mind and a dose of courage to roll with the many possible outcomes of even our best laid plans.

When faced with results you weren’t expecting or with outcomes that are positive in their own way but divergent from where you thought you might be, take a breath and embrace this unexpected reality.

For Praxis student Laura, taking a leap didn’t pan out in one regard but very much did in another. Laura combined her efforts, reaching out with a couple of asks directed at potential patrons and sponsors while simultaneously applying for residency.

Anyone who has reached out with an inquiry for funding knows how hard this can be. Similarly, the process of applying to residency requires a fine balancing act between putting your energy full force into creating a winning application and guarding yourself just enough to be prepared when the answer is no.

For Laura, the results were mixed. In her own words:

Update: Didn’t get money from the first two outreaches but DID get a two week residency at the Fine Arts Work Center without interruption to make large wall-sized collages and paintings, a dream realized.

I did freeze about making the ask after an initial burst of bravado so I now commit to five letters by Sunday.

There is so much to be learned from this brief statement.

First and foremost, Laura was open to whatever came her way. Whether that meant some money from her outreach or an opportunity to work in a unique and supportive setting, she was ready to embrace the circumstances.

But it is the second part of what Laura said that should ring so loudly in your ears. Despite the ask feeling uncomfortable, despite fear of repeating the exercise, Laura not only prepped herself to go back in, she made a solid plan of action.

This, in a nutshell, is what the artist’s life should look like at all times. Whether the ask is directed toward patrons and sponsors, grant foundations, or potential exhibitors, it must be a regular part of your routine. In addition to studio time, there is a genuine need to build a calendar of outreach, networking, and applications.

Time management and the sheer motivation and courage to work this into your regular schedule do not necessarily come naturally. For some, this sort of career development is easier than it is for others. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, Praxis Center can help. Our full suite of courses designed to support the artist looking to grow a thriving career offers the keys to all this and more. Life is full of twists and turns, the best we can do is be ready for whatever comes our way.




  1. Good article but what about those of us in which time management, sheer motivation and courage to work this into your regular schedule DO come naturally and still — nothing. No residencies, grant money, or even support of any kind. I’m an artist who’s been at this for 5 years now. Even moved from NYC To LA 11 months ago to see if the much larger art scene out here would “bite.”

    Advice for us? Thank you for reading.

    • there may be other things at play if you have had nothing in 5 years, it could be your presentation, your work, or the fact that you didn’t apply enough times. Grants and residencies are a numbers game, you need to apply to at least a dozen a residencies a year and about that many grants as well to stand a good chance of getting some!


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