Better Your Chances at Landing a Public Art Commission: Advice from Beth Ravitz

By October 23, 2017 No Comments

4Written by: Elysian Koglmeier on behalf of the Public Art Archive

Reach for the Stars by Beth Ravitz. Pompano Beach, FL. Collection of Broward County Public Art & Design © 2004. Photo by Broward County Public Art & Design.

Is landing a public art commission your white whale? Want to increase your chances of being selected for an RFQ?

We get it, public art commissions are competitive. We want to help you succeed in your career and start landing those projects. We sought out the advice of Beth Ravitz, a public artist and public art consultant in southern Florida. Here is what she shared:

Q: When you first started applying for public art commissions what is one mistake that you made and learned from?     

Beth: The importance of EXCELLENT images of projects.                                                                                                                                                                    Q: Has applying to RFQs online improved the submission process for artists or are there still challenges?

Beth: Online submissions have improved the applying process 100%! CaFÉ has made the process so much better for artists.

Q: Public art commissions are very competitive. How does an artist stand out?

Beth: Again….artists must make sure they have excellent images of their work.  

Be sure to write a tailored letter of interest that ties into the specific project and site that is requested.

KEEP IT SHORT. Committees do NOT like to read; they have enough work going through images.    

Another hint – artists should make every effort to contact the Public Art administrator and develop a relationship with that person.  Ask for advice on your submission. If you are a semi-finalist and do not get the project, ask for feedback.

I developed a relationship with an artist from Portland, OR as the administrator for Lauderhill, Florida. He kept contacting me for information about his submission.  At first it was annoying, but then along the way he became very interesting to me as we began an art relationship of exchanging ideas.  He did not get the project, but we became friends. I got a project a year later in Portland, and contacted him.  He was extremely helpful!!  He went to the site for me to accept the art shipment and found me an installer!  As a result, I invited him for a short list for a project in Lauderhill.                                                                                                                                                                                        Q: If you can improve one thing in the competition processes what would it be?

Beth: I would limit the number of submissions allowed.  Each administrator should tailor it to their City. Does a committee really need 300 submissions? I think the MOST submissions allowed should be 200. The first 200 artists to apply get their applications accepted. Or, the number could be less if the City is smaller. Again, it should be left up to the administrator/consultant. Many times, to ease the process, I invite a limited amount of artists to submit.

Feeling more confident? Find a public art RFQ on CaFE and apply today!

And once you’ve landed that commission, send images and information about your completed works to the Public Art Archive! Check out some of Beth’s work on PAA.