Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Applying for the Re: view Bursary wasn't such a breeze

Bursaries of £500-£1,000 designed to support the critical and artistic development of visual and applied artists - assisting them to move their practice forward.

Initially, I wasn’t going to apply for it. I read the advertisement, scratched my head and thought, “Why, would I or how could I review myself” Since graduating in 2008 I’d been a one women band doing pretty much everything myself with just the basics. This included things like photography, website management, marketing, advertising, bookkeeping and all self taught. You see, I come from a background of Make Do and Mend and this makes you very ingenious at making things happen using very little money. I always look out for free opportunities in training and advice, learning social media to promote my work and gaining important exposure by regularly exhibiting my work at galleries throughout the country at minimal cost.

A few years ago I’d had some very nurturing free business advice from a lady called Morag Ballantyne. She obviously saw the potential in me that I wasn’t quite brave enough to fully face. She encouraged me and showed me a variety of options which would move my creative business in the right direction. I guess that was the closest I’d got to reviewing myself following my graduation. But this seemed different, this opportunity was with the A-N magazine, it seems so much more officious and scary. As interested as I was I didn’t know how I could spend that amount of money on investing in me as a designer/maker and my business. I clicked away from the advert and moved onto more pressing things like catching up on my administration.

About a week later, a good friend and fellow artist rang me. She’d also seen the advert and asked me if I was going for it, noting that it was now a very short deadline, 2 days in fact. “Mmmm, I’m not sure”, I said, “I was thinking about accessing the skills of Pete Mosely, but I’m still not sure I can justify it, it seems and awful lot of money.” Through total selfless encouragement she talked me into applying and after making an initial contact with Pete, who was quite happy to give me some advise on the approach I needed; I proceeded to download the dreaded form.

Once on the screen I blinked many times staring at the empty spaces that revealed themselves to me on the application form. Inspiration didn’t come easily so I thought, “I guess if I fill in the questions I can answer, then half of the battle will be done.” Still some blank boxes to fill. I started to look through my files at some other applications and submissions I had put together in the past, some successful, others not so much. It was in this way that I began to fill in the empty spaces. I think the hardest thing about the form is some of the questions seemed to duplicate themselves and I was left saying to myself, “Well, I’ve already said that!” Soon though, I had managed to fill something in all of the boxes on the form. Next, I needed a second and third opinion. I emailed it through to a few of professional friends for their feedback and input. The first, took out some words and added more in where it was needed which I was expecting as I am dyslexic and although I do read and re-read things through I often miss the most obvious of mistakes. The second advised me that although my form was shaping up I did need to make sure I used the word allowance to the full.

Using this feedback, I soldiered on. I re-read the questions, re-read my answer and put myself in the mind of the person who was about to read my form. Call it an Old English Teacher trick that was given to me at school. Think of the person who will read your form as an alien, they know nothing about you or what you can do, really give them a good visual in words. Visual, I can do, I’m an artist. So, working on this prowess, I managed to complete the form more confidently.

After a couple more emails to and fro to my friends, my form was ready to be sent. It had taken one and a half days commitment to get the “dreaded” form to a stage that I was happy with; leaving behind all negative thoughts of not worthy, too higher mountain to climb and I’ll never do it. And it was at that point I recalled a book I had read many moon ago, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. Expand your comfort zone, do something that stretches you a little more everyday.

“Take a risk a day, one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, at least you’ve tried. You didn’t sit back powerless.” 

Well, Susan, I have definitely done that and yes, I felt pretty great, I had climbed that high mountain and stuck my fancy flag right in its peak.

2 comments: said...

Just done the same sent mine into The Elephant Fund and have going to do it for months just kept missing the deadlines now its gone. Keeping my fingers crossed good luck with yours.

Greenby Nature said...

I was successful with my submission earlier in the year. Just wanted to share my experience. I'm using the bursary for some creative mentoring.... further blog posts to come.