Calling all artists! The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is looking for new and talented collaborators. Apply now or find out more about how you can show your work… and sell it, too.
Have you ever dreamt of having your work featured (and sold!) at the North Carolina Museum of Art? Did you know that the NCMA is looking for artwork from both established AND up-and-coming artists? Yes, that includes you!
Whether you’ve never exhibited your work before, or you’re a seasoned pro at snagging retail space, this is a phenomenal chance to get more eyes on your work.
Honestly, I think it's a dream to share the same roof as some of history's most beloved artists. Georgia O'Keeffe. Franz Kline. Beth Lipman. Apollonio di Giovanni. Titian. Auguste Rodin. They can all be found at the NCMA. And you—yes, YOU—can share and sell your work in the very same buildings. That is quite an honor.
So, my fine creative friend, I am here to give you all the details and encouragement you need to get started.
And guess what—the application process is easy.
Disclaimer: This blog post is NOT an NCMA ad or sponsored content. This is written from my (admittedly biased) perspective that building a network and connections in your local artistic community is an important stage in your creative life! And, I’m a huge fan of the NCMA and their initiatives, and I don’t care who knows it :)
Plus, I want your work to have some serious legs and get you in front of some amazing buyers, too!
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m BIG on supporting artists to feel more confident sharing their work, overcome limiting beliefs, and take the next step in their creative careers.
If you’re looking for a sign that it’s time to amplify your work, this is it. You don't need the approval of the traditional art system to do what you love as a professional, and you definitely shouldn’t wait to be “discovered” to feel abundant and successful as an artist.
And PLEASE don’t build up an artistic legacy in secret… because as NCMA 2022 collaborating artist Pete Sack reminds us, “buy from the living artists—the dead ones don’t need money.”
Take a chance. Apply. Share your work.
Not in the Raleigh/North Carolina area? There are museums, galleries, boutiques, and even cafes all across the country that offer similar initiatives —do some Googling or talk to businesses in your area to see how you can collaborate or showcase your work. I promise, the only thing you stand to lose are those self-limiting beliefs!
I suggest you check out the TrianglePopUp. They frequently "pop up" on the first Saturday of every month with a new selection of local artists in the plaza and live music. They are always curating the most amazing events. I frequent them myself to support the local creative economy. If you are interested in getting your work seen here in the Raleigh area I suggest you check them out.
WHO (AND WHAT) THE NCMA IS LOOKING FOR
The NC Museum Store has a place for every artist—if you are an aspiring artist, creative, craftsman, or photographer, they want to hear from you!
Danny Ambar, a member of the NCMA Member and Visitor Experience team, shared that the Museum aims to connect its community with art and to make art a tangible and living thing that is available to anyone who seeks to be a part of it. And a key component of this goal is to include local creatives in this artistic ecosystem.
The NCMA is looking for local contributors to design pieces under $500 for retail sale, and while that may seem broad, there are some practical considerations to keep in mind.
“Do your homework, go to the Museum Store, and see if your work would be a good fit. Price, size, subject matter… put yourself in the shoes of someone going to the gift shop,” suggests Pete Sack.
Curious about applying? Here are a few considerations to help your application stand out:
A great application starts with knowing—and feeling confident with—what you are offering.
The NCMA likes to see artists that have a cohesive brand without holes in their offer.
My friend, this does not mean you need to have a highly-polished and established community presence or website, or already be a household name.
Cohesive branding is a well-put-together experience. Similar to dating, it’s attractive when someone knows who they are, knows their worth, and can tell you what they have to offer. The NCMA (and other similar galleries or stores) want to see artists who present themselves memorably and consistently, and can clearly communicate their vision for collaboration with the Museum.
An artist who can make landscapes… or maybe sculptures? for, I don’t know, whatever you think a piece would go for? Not a cohesive offer.
A painter offering small acrylic originals of Raleigh cityscapes for $225 per piece? Cohesive.
“You have to be as presentable and polished as you can be at your stage,” offers Georgia Tardy, whose mural and exclusive artisan products can currently be found at the Museum Store. “Supplies are expensive… it’s not cheap. Use what you have, do what you can. I will take free wood, get a piece of sandpaper and sand it down, paint on it, and sell it. Whatever stage you are at, present yourself in the best way.”
Put your best foot forward with your application—embrace who you are and what you have to offer!
Social media presence:
A good social media presence (and following) is a huge asset for artists who want to showcase at the NCMA Museum Store.
A major perk of partnering up with an institution like a museum is getting your art in front of more people, and these days that includes social media. The NCMA looks for artists and creatives that have a good social media following so that they can collaborate and share—tag each other in posts or stories, promote events, etc.
Being able to cross-promote is mutually beneficial: the Museum gets on the radar of your followers, and you get on the radar of museum patrons and potential buyers beyond visitors to the Museum Store. Win-win!
“It’s had a huge impact on my business. On a smaller scale, there are more eyes on my work and it’s increased my following on social media—people see the mural and take selfies in front of it,” explains Tardy. “And from doing the NCMA mural, I got another mural project at the Duke Raleigh Hospital, which is the largest mural project I’ve done as a solo artist. That opportunity came from having my work at the Museum.”
The NCMA places a huge emphasis on being a community-oriented space, and that includes prioritizing diverse and inclusive experiences for artists and patrons alike.
They especially love to bring in artists of color as well as artists in underserved rural areas of North Carolina.
“I enjoy working with them because they are very intentional about supporting local artists. They support local artists in a BIG way, not just in a little, cute way to pacify us or to say they support local… they really, actually do,” states Tardy.
If you’ve ever wondered if the NCMA is a good fit for you—especially if you feel you don’t fall under the traditional or stereotypical idea of what a museum “looks for”—it’s worth putting yourself out there to see what could happen. The NCMA wants to draw people in who may not be comfortable coming to a museum, and encourage people to be a part of it.
“There will always be a contingent of people who don’t feel the museum is for them. They feel like it’s too elitist or hoity-toity… it’s not. The physical structure of it all may be intimidating, but it’s so not the case,” says Tardy.
And the diversity doesn’t stop at artist contributors… The NCMA is open to all different mediums, products, books, and art. They love creative offers or add-on items and encourage applications that are different and unique.
“I filled out the online [application] form and was rejected!” explains artist Jane Cheek. “But then [the NCMA] wanted one of my installations in the shop. That was not what I applied with… I didn’t show them any installation work because I thought it wasn’t gift shop material. Consider applying more than once with different portfolios if you offer different things.” Cheek’s installation can currently be found above the Museum Store cash register.
Excited by a creative challenge? The NCMA loves to partner with artists to create products exclusively for the museum.
“Custom products are very attractive to [the NCMA]. I always like to give my client a way to say “this is exclusive,” says Kathleen Grebe, whose brand Bold Standard offers original handcrafted jewelry at the Museum Store.
For example, the NCMA has an innovative collaboration is with Usu Company, which created a candle that quite literally smells like the museum.
My friend, you too can create a unique product exclusive to the museum… and they will promote and share it to boot!
“I create the challenge myself,” explains Grebe. “I want to design something for [a specific exhibition], and I go through a million designs and try to find something that overlaps for me and my brand. It takes me a long time to find something that resonates with me and fits the project. But that’s what’s cool because it forces me to explore with style and materials. These projects push me in totally different directions.”
A museum is at its best as a place of community, artistic expansion, innovation, and inspiration—I LOVE that the NCMA walks the talk through its unique and exclusive collaborations!
HOW TO BECOME AN NCMA COMMUNITY ARTISAN COLLABORATOR
Ready to apply to be an NCMA Community Artisan Collaborator? Here are the deets:
Beyond the standard application materials (name, contact info, etc.), the NCMA requires the following:
- A description of your product/proposal;
- One (1) image of your product (but you can upload a maximum of 3 images);
- Product pricing (keep in mind that the artist receives 60%, and the NCMA receives 40%, of the proposed price);
- Social pages and/or website (optional, but highly encouraged);
- Artist mission statement (optional, but highly encouraged).
Come prepared with the above information to make filling out the form as smooth as possible. Remember: a cohesive offer is how you stand out from the crowd!
How to Apply:
You can fill out the NCMA Community Artisan Collaboration Form HERE.
One small thing to note: the West Building of the NCMA is currently closed until October 8, 2022, to complete the reinstallation of the People’s Collection.
Don’t let this deter you! In the meantime, they’ve partnered with CAM Raleigh for the first Museum Store experience in downtown Raleigh, and products usually found in the Museum Store (NCMA merchandise, books, and works by artists from local studios) can all be found within CAM (Martin Street entrance).
So get your applications in! This is a great chance to have your work featured in not one museum, but possibly TWO.
“Do your research and see what people are currently doing at the museum. I think having a body of work is important. I don’t think it needs to take years to develop, but if you have 10 smaller pieces that you could see in the gift shop, that’s enough. Have a solid, cohesive set of work… the work should speak for itself.” - Pete Sack
“Make work that you’re proud of—but that also you enjoy making—and stick with that. For fine arts, you need to make something that resonates with you and that you want to spend time working on.” - Jane Cheek
“Don’t be intimidated, and go for it. If you have an interest or a desire to be in a museum—because not all artists have a desire for it—don’t think you have to wait until you have it all perfect. Whatever work you have, at whatever stage of your artist's life, do it the best you can, present it the best you can, and apply or approach a museum. The worst they can do is tell you no, and tell you how you can get better. And they might say yes! Don’t think you have to be at a “master level,” whatever THAT is.” - Georgia Tardy
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
If you’re looking for further inspiration, or to connect with artists who are working with the NCMA, here is a complete list of the current 2022 NCMA Collaborators:
And remember… PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO FIND YOU TO SUPPORT YOU
I get it, it’s tough to put yourself out there artistically. But I also KNOW that it’s a necessary step… not only to grow as an artist but to allow yourself to be financially and creatively supported as an artist! The Raleigh/North Carolina art community is warm and welcoming as all heck, and I can’t wait for them to discover you.
And as my friend Georgia Tardy says, “Always be creating. When all the museums in the world come along and you aren’t creating, they won’t pay attention to you. So always be creating.”
Want to get your work in front of more people, but feeling some resistance or blocks to taking that next step?