Making a virtual call
Although the current situation of COVID 19, a pandemic, a series of isolations and quarantines has helped to increase the amount of online art exhibitions, open calls for online works of art and a general transition to virtual art shows, online and virtual art calls are not a new thing. Showing art online has existed since the beginning of the world wide web and with the world-wide transition to online spaces, it is becoming increasingly popular to hold exhibitions, shows, galleries, art sales and more virtually. Not only does that give access to people who can’t travel or are sick, but it allows shows that normally would have only been local to be international.
wendy.network is an online artist platform that allows artists to connect with each other and find new opportunities that might not have been previously presented to them or completely inaccessible before. As wendy.network starts a series of online art calls, we decided to walk through what we’re finding, what works and doesn’t work for creating an online call.
Here are the steps to creating a (successful) online art call
1. The ABOUT Section: What is your call about? What kind of art are you looking for? In this section, it is up to the individual running it about how much information you want to include and what you think is necessary for your artists/creators to know about what you’re looking for. Sometimes you might want to leave it really open so that you get a wide variety of submissions, but there are still some really important details that can make or break your call. If you have a theme, INCLUDE IT! It can be helpful if you have it down to a sentence about what the idea around your show is and artists can see clearly what you are looking for. If you have a question you want answered, this would be the section to include it in. Or if there’s an event or an institution or person the call is surrounding, this is also where to include that kind of information. Other logistical information that should be included in the first section are things like qualifying categories for the art or artists that would narrow down your search, such as age, gender identity, location, art medium, or any other identity that would qualify some and not others. If you only want paints that have ducks in them, it’s really important that you list that in the call, otherwise you could end up with photographs of horses and that is a waste of both your time and the artists.
1b. This part can be included before or after the About section, but calls with a graphic can be more inviting than just a lot of writing. Most call platforms that you can find, such as artjobs.com or artconnection.com allow a call to also include a graphic or picture of some kind and it would be advantageous to include something of the sort. If this call is a repeated one, you can reuse the same graphic, changing whatever details might have changed or you can use a picture of a work from a previous exhibition or an example of what you’re looking for, anything that could be helpful for your future artists.
2. The Further Details Section: Sometimes, it might be nice to give just a bit more information, if applicable, about the show and what it entails. If you want to have an artist roundtable or a talkback or a discussion between artists or between artists and audience, this would be a good section to add to your call. Additionally, information about how long the exhibition will last, if you’re selling work, how that process will be handled, or where artists will be able to see their work once it’s up. If there is a previous exhibition that relates strongly to the current one, a link to that wouldn’t be a bad idea, it could help the applicants to see what the curators’ work is like. Anything that didn’t fit in the above About section, include it here.
3. The How To Apply Section: Without this section, you will not have a successful call. Although you could have mentioned before in the About section for what kind of submission you’re looking for, it’s not a bad idea to put it here again. Listing dimension, requirements or the such, as well as important bits like the link to fill out a submission form, an email address to send applications to, and other details you would want with the submissions. No matter what you’re looking for, be it ducks or horses, painting, photographs or videos, spell it out as simply as possible for the best submissions and applications.
4. The Juror/Selection Body Section: This might not always be applicable to all open calls, but it can be helpful for applicants to see how might be curating the show, to see their previous work or interests. It could also be an alluring point for new institutes, to have a bigger name curator or juror or visa versa for new people breaking into the curation world. Again, if you want to give lots of information to your applicants, including a section like this one can only be helpful.
5. The Deadline and Entry Fee Section: Again, if things like deadlines are important for your call, not having this section can be detrimental to the entire show or exhibition. If you’re running a rolling, continuous open call with no deadline and the ability to apply and be shown at will, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include that information. Otherwise, list all deadlines that are important, such as final submission dates, information submission dates and present them as a hard deadline. Also, if you have an Entry Fee, please, please, please include it. Nobody wants to get excited about a show and then end up having to withdraw an application because they can’t afford the entry fee. If you can accept the fee in multiple ways, such as currency, via PayPal or IBAN transfer, let the applicants know here.
6. The Contact Details Section: Last, but certainly not least, give everyone a nice and easy way to get into contact if they have any questions about the call. Even a link to your website (which contains a contact page) would be great, and if you have an email that can be public, that would be nice to include as well.
Obviously, if there is anything we missed, feel free to include it on your call, and let wendy.network know to amend this blog post. As much as art is a method of expression, your open call could be your expression so express what you need and want to say in your way.
If you’d like to have your call featured on the wendy.network, please let us know!