Best of the Fractured Atlas Blog 2021: Tips and Tools
On this blog, we share a variety of tips and tools to help support artists in your creative practices, from managing the nuts and bolts of a creative life (what’s a contract, after all?) to building better economies for artists (we’re big fans of cooperatives). Here are some of our favorite tips and tool articles from 2021.
“The biggest piece of advice we have for sending a successful PR pitch email is brevity. Writers get pitched all the time, so while you can almost certainly wax poetic about your art for paragraph upon paragraph, it’s best to be brief.
Make sure to include relevant details about your work including date and location. Answer the who, what, when, where, and why. And be sure to add links to your website, press release, and social media. Plus, a photo of your work in the email can draw attention. Finally, why is it timely for someone to cover your work now?
It might feel embarrassing or needy, but you also should explicitly ask for coverage. Ask if whoever it is that you’re emailing would be interested in covering your work.”
“Without contracts, artists might find themselves underpaid or, worse, not paid at all for work that they expected to be compensated for. You might find yourself being asked to do way more labor than you thought you signed up for. You might also find that you end a project thinking that you own the rights to your contribution and your partner feels very differently. Setting up a contract ahead of time can help you avoid these miscommunications and frustrations.
Formalizing your expectations in a written way will help you set up the structure for a stronger and more open working relationship. If you come to an agreement before a project starts about what kind of collaboration, partnership, or job you are embarking on, you’ll be able to create more freely within that structure, knowing that you’re on the same page.”
“One way that you can situate yourself in relationship with the wider art world in your bio is by naming institutions that you have been associated with. You might choose to say where it is that you went to school, especially if you received an art degree like a BFA or an MFA. You can also namecheck notable institutions like museums, nonprofits, galleries, or venues if they’ve shown your work, given you funding, or accepted you into a residency.
It might feel a bit like you are name dropping by doing this, but this shouldn’t stop you. Be proud of your accomplishments! Naming institutions can sometimes be an unfortunate shorthand for worth in the sense that people value work by artists who have been ‘vetted’ by other institutions, but while that’s the game we’ve got, you should play it as best as you can.”
“If you decide to go DIY instead of hiring a professional, you might have a harder time getting successful results from your efforts. If you elect to design and fabricate (or purchase) all of the costumes for your play instead of hiring a costumer, you might end up with less successful costuming than if you had gone with a pro. If you hire a professional, you’ll get someone who likely knows the field better than you do and has more experience executing what you need done.
Everything in the creative field has a learning curve associated and if you do it all yourself, you’ll be learning new skills in real time. This might mean that you make a rookie PR mistake in pitch about your debut musical whereas a PR professional might have made that mistake years ago and in a less impactful way.”
“It’s clear that the economic system we have right now serves the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Artists and creatives need a better economy. We hope that by sharing examples of cooperatives, you can start to think about how you and your community can build economies built on solidarity rather than exploitation and competition. We firmly believe that worker-owned cooperatives are an important part of building a just economic ecosystem that can support us as individuals and as artists.”
“Aside from the fees, the other biggest financial question for fiscal sponsors is about dispersal. Fiscal sponsors will provide some oversight over how money you raise through them is spent, unlike other forms of fundraising like crowdfunding. Before you sign up with a fiscal sponsor, ask them what the fund dispersal process looks like. How long does it take? What kind of documentation do they need from you? What kinds of records do you need to keep and will they provide any reporting to you to help you better understand how your finances are working?”
“Sometimes artists or arts organizations happen into an unexpected funding opportunity that requires tax-deductibility. It could be an individual donor or a grant that’s reaching out with discretionary funds or a corporate sponsor. Sometimes these gifts will be contingent upon fiscal sponsorship or 501(c)(3) status.
For example, Jagermeister was happy to donate funds in support of the Lesbian Bar Project, but needed those donations to be tax-deductible. So Lesbian Bar Project became fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas.”
For more of our favorite articles from 2021, check out the rest of the best of the blog!
About Nina Berman
Nina Berman is an arts industry worker and ceramicist based in New York City, currently working as Associate Director, Communications and Content at Fractured Atlas. She holds an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. At Fractured Atlas, she shares tips and strategies for navigating the art world, interviews artists, and writes about creating a more equitable arts ecosystem. Before joining Fractured Atlas, she covered the book publishing industry for an audience of publishers at NetGalley. When she's not writing, she's making ceramics at Centerpoint Ceramics in Brooklyn.