Tips for Proposals

The following is a list of things to consider while writing a proposal. Although this is not a writing class, please make sure that your thoughts are clear and concise and that you pay attention to grammar, construction, and spelling.

1. It is great to hear your personal voice and art is made from a very personal perspective, however establish your voice (I, me, myself) and drop it. Once you have established yourself as the author, it is assumed that the proposal is about you and your work. It is unnecessary to remind your reader with the constant use of “I/Me/My/Myself/etc”.

2. The three categories that I feel are imperative are THE FORMAL (ie: technical process and how you make your work), THE CONCEPTUAL (ie: the things that motivate you to make work) and THE PERSONAL BIOSKETCH (ie: where you are from, where you are headed). They are three very distinct areas to explore, but they all relate back to the work. Use the categories to draft and construct your thoughts, then go back and relate them to your project.

3. THE FORMAL: You can describe one particular piece, a process, or another artist’s process that influences yours. It doesn’t need to be a step-by-step, but it should give the reader a sense of what you are making.

4. THE CONCEPT: Someone might be exploring feminism and another might be exploring consumer culture from a Marxist perspective. Researching theory should not be a daunting task. The simplest way that I know to find theory and concepts that support your research is to find an artist that you respond to and read and research what they respond to. This is easily done by looking in a bibliography or end notes from a text written by or about your favorite artist. There is no “standard set” of theory that can apply to everyone’s work. Cite the theory and idea, contextualize it, make it your own, and relate it back to your work.

5. BIOSKETCH: Whether your work is autobiographical or not, you should mention your position in the world and how it relates to the work you are making. It should be brief and related back to the project.

6. CALENDAR AND BUDGET: The calendar needs to address what YOU are doing out of class and during studio time. I know what we are doing during class time. This is a schedule for YOU, a plan of attack for developing and executing a body of work for the 10-week term. For the BFA students, you could include the entire year, but focus on the first 10 weeks. You also have to include a budget. Where is the money coming from? If you haven’t gotten a price quote for a frame or established the price of materials, how can you proceed in making a body of work?

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