What to look for in an artist residency

Artist residencies are a great way to get away from the daily grind, get a nice line on your CV, and to develop your vision as an artist. With all of the residencies popping up all around the world (including some which are a bit dubious) it’s important to really know what you want to get out of an artist residency. And the answer to this question is going to vary based upon your intentions.


First off, lets look at some websites that list different residencies. The two most well known are TransArtists and Resartis . On these sites you can sift through different residencies based upon media, and location. Now, lets say you want to search for “Prague Residencies” and you find a few different options pop up. What is going to distinguish one from another? Well, first of all you need to decide if you’re looking to pay for a residency, or if scholarships are available, or if you will receive a stipend (Yes, there are residencies which pay). Beware of residencies that aren’t up front about the money. They should clearly list if you’re paying, or if they’re paying.

Now, once you’ve found your dream residency, you’ve got to consider how long can you leave. Are you in a good position where leaving work for a month is something which is financially possible? Are you looking for something shorter, and more like a weekend retreat? Assess your goals, and desires, and what you want to get out of the residency. Which brings me to the next point.


What do you want to get out of the residency? :) Ok, so some residencies like Skowhegan, Vermont Studio Center, McColl Center in Charlotte, NC , Redline in Denver, and Oxbow are simply just good things to have on your CV, but that’s not exactly why people go to them . Look at other artists who have gone to these residencies, and see if your work seems like it would blend in well. Is this a place where you can really learn, and grow? Or are you looking for a glorified vacation? If it’s the latter, then I’d warn you, because the stress of having to make work, after not creating for a while, may not be the relaxing experience which you had anticipated.

Know what you want to work on. Perhaps you’re someone who can plop down anywhere, and just start making art. You’re in the zone, and you know how to do that “thing” that you do whether you’re in a kitchen, or a barn. For others this can be more difficult. Which is why it’s important to really think about what it is that you want to get out of the residency. Is there a specific theme, or idea you want to explore? Does the geographic location of the residency lend itself well to working in a specific manner? Are you going to be in a situation where you are meeting, and eating with all the other artists, or are you looking for something more solitary? Get clear about these things before you go.


Make work before you leave. I say this to my students all the time. You’ve got to simply just be making work all the time. That could simply be just once a week, but it needs to be part of your routine. The more comfortable you are making work in your studio/home, the more comfortable you’ll be making it when you leave. Take at least a month before you leave to develop a routine that allows to get comfortable with creating.

Once you’ve delved into all of these subjects.