If you’re an artist looking for a change of scenery or just a chance to work outside your usual studio, then maybe an artist residency is for you. Artist residencies provide the freedom and inspiration that artists crave.

There are many different types of artist residencies with different focuses, so it’s important to research those that fit your practice. For example, some residencies focus on emerging artists, while others focus on more established artists. There are also residency programs that focus on a specific art form, like visual arts or writing. 

So, what are artist residencies? And how do you go about choosing the right one? Read on to find out!

What are artist residencies?

Artist residencies are programs where artists live and create art for periods ranging from one day to several months at facilities worldwide. Thanks to them, artists get the chance to:

  • Enhance their focus, imagination, and productivity
  • Explore their creative boundaries outside of their usual environments.

Artists young and old can apply for residencies at galleries, museums, universities, non-profit organisations–there are many different kinds of opportunities out there. By enrolling in these residencies, artists engage with like-minded people from different backgrounds and disciplines, leading to new ideas and collaborations.

Man shaping vase on pottery wheel

What is the purpose of artist residencies?

Artist residencies started more than a century ago. To expand their horizons and carry out their work in peace, some artists took to the private studios of affluent art aficionados, who gave them food, shelter, and art supplies in exchange for their work. Other artists would take to the countryside to look for inspiration and challenge their skills.

Today they are thriving all around the world and serve various purposes. Some residencies provide artists with a full stipend, but other programs only cover the artist’s travel expenses or provide housing. Residency programs still give artists time and space to focus on their practice without the distractions at home and provide them with fundings and contacts within their respective communities.

How to find artist residencies that suit your needs

Now that you know what an artist residency is, it’s important to find a residency program that works best for you. Here are some tips on how to do that:

1. Think about your needs

Before doing research and applying to residencies, take some time to think about your needs. Think about what you want to get out of a residency. What type of work do you want to produce? What is your ideal environment? Do you need one that is generic or specific to your art form? 

Without a doubt, answering these questions will help you focus your search and let you make the best decision. Rather than just looking at all the different types of residencies available, you can now target the ones that best fit your needs.

2. Do your research

Residencies can be quite competitive, so you need to find the best programs that suit you. When applying for residencies, it is important to research them first. Check out their website and get some insight about them from the people who have attended the residencies.

There are many residencies with different aims. For example, some residencies focus on emerging artists, while others on more established ones. 

3. Consider your budget

Artist residencies can be expensive as many charge fees, require you to travel, and have attached living expenses. However, there are a few residencies that offer scholarships or stipends. So, it’s important to seek the opportunity and see if you can get any waiver.

If your budget is limited, you can focus on residencies that offer some financial assistance or a reduced fee for participants. This is where Artshare can be of great help (but more on that later!).

4. Create a list of potential residency programs

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start creating a list of residency programs. You can do this by conducting an online search or looking through art directories and magazines. Websites like resartis.org, transartists.org, rivet.es – or us, artshare.co – can be of great help at this point.

5. Consider the reputation of the program

Reputation means the quality of the program. This aspect is vital because you don’t want to attend a residency that will not benefit you. When creating your list, prioritize the residencies that have a good standing in the community and investigate them further. Usually, the longest-running residency programs are more reliable.

Do more research by talking with students or alumni, finding out what past participants think of the program, etc. This will help you establish if the residency provides an environment that is conducive to your needs.

6. Make sure you meet the residency program’s requirements

It would be best to consider meeting the program’s prerequisites before applying. Each residency program pays attention to different specifics. So, you must understand what they require from an artist.

Make sure you meet the criteria such as your working medium, previous experiences, time of participation, etc., and provide all the necessary documents before applying.

7. Learn how your residency can polish your skills

Residencies offer a unique opportunity to artists, allowing them to work on their art form in an environment that supports creativity, while also learning from other artists.

Many residencies provide workshops and lecture series that are conducted by established professionals in the field. This type of opportunity can enhance your skillset and knowledge enabling you to learn new techniques and experiments with new mediums.

Painter working with gouache for creating etching picture

Benefits of attending a residency program

A residency is a time when you are not bound by your everyday obligations and can focus solely on your craft. You will also have an opportunity to experiment with new methods that might lead to breakthroughs in your artistic practice.

There are many benefits to participating in an artist residency program. Here are some of the most important ones:

1. New skills

You can enhance your creative side and learn new techniques by attending a residency program. Residencies offer a unique opportunity to artists allowing them to work in an environment conducive to creativity while also learning from other artists.

2. Fewer distractions

You can devote yourself entirely to the creative process without any distractions or interferences by attending a residency. These programs allow artists to work on their craft uninterrupted, which can benefit their practice. 

3. Discover new places and cultures

Artists who attend residencies often get the chance to travel and experience new places and cultures. Experiencing new cultures and traditions up close broadens your horizons and boosts your creativity.

4. Professional development opportunities

You can make important industry connections by participating in various workshops and lectures that established professionals in the field often conduct. Artists also get the chance to showcase their work to a wider audience through residencies, which can help them stand out from the crowd.

5. Networking opportunities

When attending a residency program, it is likely that you will be spending an extended period of time with other artists who have similar interests as you. This is a great opportunity for freshers to establish a relationship with their peers and learn from them.

Some residencies also provide a sense of community that is rare to find, and you can take advantage of this by participating in group exhibitions, talks, or social events. 

If you want to learn more about why artist residencies are vital for artists who want to reach their full potential, read our article “9 Reasons to Seek Out Artist-in-Residence Programs“.

Resources to find information on residencies

Many websites act as databases for artists and provide information on residencies and open calls available in different parts of the world. Here is a list of some of the best places to find more information about residencies:

1. Resartis

Res Artis is a worldwide network of arts residencies that serves as a platform for artists to connect with other professionals in the field. The site maintains a database of reputable residency programs available in over 75 countries of the world. It has over 550 members who ensure that artists are connected to the right professionals.

2. Transartists

Transartists is an online resource that shares knowledge related to artist-in-residencies so that creators can make informed decisions about their practice. It also provides deadlines for various residency programs so that creative individuals can apply on time and avail the best opportunities. Their goal is to make art accessible to everyone and create a community of artists connected globally.

3. Rivet

Rivet is a website designed to benefit artists looking to get a residency in different parts of the world. It provides a search engine tool that you can use to find more information about residencies that might be suitable for your practice.

Anonymous designers discussing details of project

Potential pitfalls of applying for a residency program

There are numerous pitfalls that you should be aware of before applying for a residency program. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Costs associated with applying

Many residencies require artists to cover travel and accommodation expenses all by themselves. This can be a major deterrent for artists who are not financially stable. In some cases, you have to pay a non-refundable application fee.

2. High competition

The competition to get into a residency program is often fierce. You will be competing against other artists who are just as talented and ambitious as you are. This can be discouraging and overwhelming for some applicants.

3. Unpredictable outcomes

The outcome of a residency is often unpredictable. You might end up with a great opportunity or not get the feedback you were hoping for. The experience can be quite subjective, so it’s best to go in with an open mind.

Back to basics: alternative artist residencies

Traditional artist residencies are not the only option for artists looking to further their careers. For instance, Artshare helps connect hosts who support arts and culture with artists who need time and space to create new work, establish new collaborations or explore new cultures.

Unlike many other traditional residencies, Artshare connects you directly with the host of your choice, and the good news is there is no application fee. You don’t have to worry about stringent deadlines, as the host and the artist mutually agree on dates and terms.

Many opportunities were not accessible to all artists in the past because they were reserved for a select few. However, Artshare ensures inclusivity and everyone’s equal right of opportunity regardless of their age, experience, race, or sex.

Start sharing now

If you’re looking for an opportunity to make connections with other artists, expand your network, and maybe even find a few new clients or collaborators in the process, head on over to our home page now to find an opportunity that best fits your needs.


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