20 Top Artist Grants and Fellowships You Might Actually Be Able to Get

20 Top Artist Grants and Fellowships You Might Actually Be Able to Get
With our guide to artists grants, you could be the next Marilyn Minter, Mark Bradford, Cindy Sherman — or you could create the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
(Artist images: Billy Farrell Agency)

Making art is expensive business, and working artists look for any financial help they can get. To supplement the costs of fabrication, art materials, studio space, and travel, one of the most popular sources of funds is fellowships and grants. For our ongoing series on resources for artists in these tough times, ARTINFO has researched the many funding options available in the United States, and compiled a handy guides of the ones that are within reach of the average artist.

As with residencies, which we covered in two parts (Part One and Part Two), we discovered that there are tiers to fellowships and grants, and not all are created equal. Some of the most prestigious and hefty prizes are the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. Each come with big money grants — but they are also available by nomination only. When it comes to grant money that is attainable by open application, the pool is wide but the eligibility requirements also vary greatly — from awards for making comic books to small grants to publish limited editions of artist books written by women. The list below is a diverse and eclectic sampling of what is out there, but there's likely something in there for everybody.

 

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Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship
Who: Artists working in photography and photo-based art
When: Deadline is May 18, 2012
How Much: Up to $10,000

Eligibility requirements for this grant state that applicants are judged “on the basis of artistic excellence, accomplishment to date, and the promise of future achievement in the medium in its widest sense.” In other words, for those who are working professionals, and have both an extensive resume and portfolio, this award geared towards you. Just keep in mind you’ll be up against an esteemed panel of judges that have ranged from David Levi Strauss, Chair of the MFA Art Criticism & Writing program at SVA to Elizabeth Biondi, critic for the New Yorker.

Notable Grantees: Penelope Umbrico, Gregory Crewdson

[Fine Print]: Not available for students or recent IPF recipients, and you must apply online.

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Asian Cultural Council Individual Grants
Who: Asian artists
When: Deadline is November 1
How Much: Not typically exceeding $10,000

The Asian Cultural Council is by far one of the most dedicated organizations giving to Asian artists who are looking for funding to conduct research, study, receive special training, and pursue art in non-commercial settings, either in the United States or countries in Asia. The council gives money for anyone in the fields of Archaeology, Art History, Crafts, Dance, New Media, Painting/Sculpture/Installation, and more.

[Fine Print]: Grants vary in duration, from one month to one year, and the amounts can vary as well. Some fields not funded include publications, individual artist exhibitions, or performance tours, as well as undergraduate or secondary school study.

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The Astraea Visual Arts Fund
Who: Contemporary lesbian visual artists working in sculpture, painting, prints, mixed media, and works on paper
When: Date not available for 2013 yet
How Much: $2,500

Each year three grants are given, two of which are supported by an endowed gift from Joan Watts, a founding member and artist. Glittery portraitist Mickalene Thomas was a panelist for 2008/2009.

[Fine Print]: Candidates must show a commitment to social-justice feminism.

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The Awesome Foundation For the Arts and Sciences
Who: The awesome amongst us
When: Awarded monthly. Applications are rolling.  
How Much: $1,000

The Awesome Foundation is a loose network of small-time philanthropists who award $1,000 micro-grants to people with certifiably awesome ideas every month. Chapters consist of 10 trustees who each donate $100. The project can be artistic, scientific, and/or social in nature. Previous “awesome” projects have included a giant hammock in Boston, a mushroom farm made out of phone books in Ottawa, and a portable pipe organ.

[Fine Print]: None — this grant is that awesome.

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Brooklyn Arts Council Grants
Who: G train enthusiasts
When: Annually, deadline in late summer
How Much: $1,700 to $2,100 on average.

Are you a Brooklyn-based artist looking to live, work, and show work in the county of Kings? Look no further than the Brooklyn Arts Council. The BAC offers a slew of project-based grants that fund art with a public component. Funded projects include theater and dance productions, musical concerts, gallery exhibitions, curatorial projects, public art installations, films, screenings, and workshops. Plus, your odds of getting money aren’t too shabby: 30 to 40 percent of applicants receive funding at some level.

[Fine Print]: Artists must reside in Brooklyn. Proof of residency is required with all applications.  

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The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography
Who: Canadian and American photographers who have never published a book
When: Biennially. Submissions accepted from June 15 to September 15, 2012
How Much: $3,000

This prestigious award is so special, it only happens once every two years. Sponsored by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Honickman Foundation, the First Book Prize is selected by a distinguished photography professional. Past judges have included Robert Adams, Maria Morris Hambourg, Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, and Deborah Willis. Winners receive a $3,000 stipend, publication of the book, and an exhibition at the Rubenstein Library Gallery at Duke University.

[Fine Print]: Applicants must pay a $65 application fee.

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College Art Association Professional Development Grant
Who: Students
When: Annually. Applications will be available in May.
How Much: $5,000

The College Art Association’s (CCA) Professional-Development Fellowships offers awards to aspiring artists and art historians currently enrolled in MFA and PhD programs. The transition from school to “the real world” can be tough. Fortunately, the CCA is there to cushion the blow with unrestricted grants of $5,000, free one-year CAA membership, and complimentary registration to the CCA’s Annual Conference where you can network with fellow strivers.

Notable Grantees: Mary Reid Kelley, LaToya Ruby Frazer

[Fine Print]: Applicants must receive their MFA or PhD degree in the calendar year following the year of application.

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Creative Capital Grants
Who: Artists with “adventurous projects” in any discipline
When: Deadline is March 1, awards given on January 13
How Much: Valued at $90,000; up to $50,000 in fiscal award money and career development services valued at $40,000

The non-profit organization’s mission statement is as abstract as many of its ambitious artists, claiming to look for artists “who create artistically omnivorous work.” For artists whose projects may not have a home for funding elsewhere, this is one of the best deals you could possibly imagine. Creative Capital is the only national grantmaking organization with an open application process that has such a wide variety of grantees from different areas. The program is multi-year and also provides advisory support designed to see proposals through to their end successfully. The grant cycle is every three years, rotating the fields it funds annually.

Notable Grantees: Kerry Tribe, Theaster Gates, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Natalie Bookchin, Zoe Leonard, Suzanne Lacy, Cory Arcangel, Nick Cave, Rebecca Solnit, Janine Antoni

[Fine Print]: Must be at least 25 years old, a working artist with at least five years professional experience, a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and not a full-time student.

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John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award
Who: Mid-career artists, writers, scientists, and scholars
When: Deadline is September 15 annually.
How Much: varies. Last year’s average was $37,000

The Guggenheim Foundation, founded by senator Simon Guggenheim in memory of his son, John, who died as a teenager, awards fellowships to artists and intellectuals who have “demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Out of the 3,500 to 4,000 applications they receive per year, the foundation dolls out approximately 220 fellowships.

Notable Grantees: Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Eleanor Antin, Michael Asher, John Baldessari, George Grosz, Hans Haacke, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, Kalup Linzy, Chris Martin, Hélio Oiticica, Dennis Oppenheim, Yvonne Rainer, Cindy Sherman, Eve Sussman, Bill Viola, Nari Ward, Lawrence Weiner, Doug Wheeler, Hannah Wilke, and Sue Williams

[Fine Print]: Applications must be geared towards a specific project.

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The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant
Who: Painters who are 45 or older
When: Application materials become available August 1st, 2012
How Much: $5,000 to $30,000

The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation awards grants to painters are 45 or older who demonstrate financial need. Applications are judged anonymously; and there are no reporting requirements or stipulations on how the prize money is spent.

[Fine Print]: The application must be either hand-delivered or sent via snail mail (you know those crazy 45-plus types!) Grant recipients are required to follow PAAM’s Credit and Publicity Requirements, whatever those might be.

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Library Fellows’ Award, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Who: Women who want to publish an artist book
When: Deadline is June 30th, 2012
How Much: Varies

Low and behold, there is money out there for very specific projects and mediums, artist books is among them. This award is given to women with artist book projects to be published in limited editions of 125 copies. Each fellow will receive a copy of the book and the grantees keep 25 copies. The books that are sold provide funds for the library and research center.

[Fine Print]: In order to maintain your position as a Library Fellow you are required to meet once annually, along with the other fellows, to review and discuss proposals from artists, and contribute $1,200 each year. 

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National Association of Latino Arts & Culture Grants
Who: Emerging to established Latino artists
When: Deadline is January 1
How Much: Project Grant, $1,000-$10,000; Fellowships, $1,000-$5,000; Master Artist Grant $10,000-$20,000

The guidelines for application breakdown the review criteria for grantees in percentages, placing the greatest emphasis on artistic merit and funding impact. NALAC provides several grants for artists, ranging in award amount and grantee focus. The Project Grant gives equipment, funds for research and travel and professional career development, and is geared towards the development of a specific body of work. The Fellowship is meant for artists whose work impacts the Latino arts directly and intended to recognize an existing body of work, while also providing assistance for the hiring of assistants, cost of documentation, and living expenses. Finally, the Master Artist Grant, which is the largest award, is designed for established Latino artists and asks the individual to act as a mentor to another artist on a specific project.

[Fine Print]: Lots of requirements based on the specific grant, ranging from at least 10 years experience (to count as a "master artist") to letters of commitment from other artists and organizations for the fellowship application. You must also be a member of NALAC to apply for any grant.

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 Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Fellowship 
Who: Emerging Native American artists
When: Deadline is June 21, 2012
How Much: Up to $20,000

Awards for the 2011/2012 cycle reached $100,000 in total and went to artists across the many branches of fine art, including literature, music, dance, film, visual arts, and traditional arts. Fellows who receive the $20,000 awards are not given restrictions and, in addition to funding, are allocated time for study and experimentation in their field. The Foundation gave its first visual arts fellowship to Alan Michaels (Mohawk) this past year, a conceptual artist from New York City.

[Fine Print]: Each area has specific restrictions for applications. For instance, those applying for film must have already completed a feature-length narrative or documentary film. Literature applicants are for writers of fiction or poetry. In addition, Native artists must be acknowledged as American Indian by federally and state recognized U.S. tribes, Native Alaskan, or Native Hawaiian.

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NEA Art Works Grant  
Who: American Artists
When: deadline August 9th, 2012
How Much: between $10,000 and $100,000

Despite years of partisan budget slashes, the National Endowment for the Arts still offers big grants to artists working on ambitious and (sometimes) socially engaged projects. The NEA encourages four “outcomes”: Creation, Engagement, Learning, and Livability. Applicants must pick the category that resonates most strongly with their proposed projects.  

[Fine Print]: The Art Works category does not fund direct grants to individuals. Applicants must apply through a subsidiary organization.

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New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship
Who: Artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers living and working in the state of New York
When: annually
How Much: $7,000

The holy grail of artist grants for New York City artists, the NYFA Fellowship are cash awards given to artists working in various disciplines. These grants are for unrestricted use, meaning you can spend the dough however you like. Applications are accepted in five categories each year.

Notable Grantees: Jennifer Egan, Zhou Long, Doug Aitken, Junot Diaz; Todd Haynes, Barbara Kruger, Spike Lee, Christian Marclay, Marilyn Minter. Lynn Nottage, Julie Taymor

[Fine Print]: Check to make sure grants are currently offered in your medium, as they change every year.

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New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artists Grants
Who: Artists supported through non-profit organizations
When: Not available for 2013 yet
How Much: No less than $2,500

NYSCA grants offer support for artist projects to create new work in architecture, planning and design, dance, electronic media, film, and many other categories. Whether you are an emerging or established artist, if you are backed by a non-profit organization you can receive generous funding from the state of New York to make some art.

[Fine Print]: The grantee must be a New York state resident for a minimum of two years with proof. There is a three-request limit.

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The Pollock-Krasner Foundation
Who: Painters, sculptors, printmakers, drawers
When: No deadlines
How Much: $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the individual circumstances of the artist   

Established by Lee Krasner, the Abstract Expressionist painter and widow of Jackson Pollock, the Pollock-Krasner foundation gives grants to artists year-round on a rolling basis. Applicants must demonstrate both artistic talent and and financial need.

Notable Grantees: Aziz & Cucher, Zoe Leonard, Valerie Hegarty, Jane Benson, Alyson Shotz, Thornton Willis, John Beech

[Fine Print]: In order to be considered, applicants must be currently showing their recent work in exhibition spaces, galleries, and/or museums.  

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Visual Arts Sea Grant of Rhode Island
Who: Artists who like long walks on the beach
When: Annually, deadline is May 25th.  
How Much: Up to $3,000

From the dolphin frescos of Ancient Crete to Turner’s stormy shipwrecks, the ocean has been a source of inspiration and wonder for artists. Not to be outdone by Provincetown’s C-Shaped Dune Shack residency, the Visual Arts Sea Grant Program of Rhode Island doles out grants to New England- and New York-based visual artists to create art reflecting aquatic themes. Projects must somehow relate to the ocean environments and/or coastal communities.

[Fine Print]: Only open to residents of New York and New England. Previous Sea Grant recipients of Sea Grant awards must wait five years to reapply.

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William H. Johnson Prize
Who: Early career African American artists
When: Awarded in December
How Much: $25,000

With the list of top-tier alumni who have received this prize, this could be one of the premier awards for African-American artists. The William H. Johnson Prize is awarded annually to an early-career African American artist, with "early career" interpreted loosely to mean that artists may apply up to 12 years after finishing their academic studies, or working independently as artists without degrees for that period. It also appears if you don’t get it the first time, you can apply again.

Notable Grantees: Sanford Biggers, Kori Newkirk with Kalup Linzy, and Mark Bradford honored as finalists.

[Fine Print]: If you are past the 12-year mark, you’re not eligible to apply anymore.

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Xeric Foundation Grants for Comic Self-Publishers
Who: Self-publishing comic book artists
When: February 29, 2012
How Much: Generally not exceeding $5,000

This non-profit corporation was founded by co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Planet Racers, Peter Laird to assist independent publishers and creators of comic books. The format for work is flexibly defined as “art in a deliberate narrative sequence,” and as long as you are not publishing with another company, even if you are part of an artist/writer team, you are eligible. Grants can be used for physical production or distribution or work as long as it is previously unpublished (it's fine if its been online).

[Fine Print]: Grants cannot be used for promotional materials like t-shirts or stickers, art supplies, bills, living expenses, or computer equipment. Financial information is required and considered although grants are not given solely based on need.

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