BLOG 29 / My View of the Torpedo Factory Visiting Artist Residency / by steve joseph

Here is some advice to artists considering applying to the Torpedo Factory Visiting Artist. I was selected for a month long residency, one in 2014 and one in 2017.

Like all residencies, first consider WHY you want to do a residency. My list includes possibilities for:
- a new environment with abundant time with no distractions to concentrate on your art
- contact, learning and sharing with other artists
- a new environment to research, or perfect a technique
- a new environment to take a break from being an artist
- a place to make collaboration with another artist or group of artists
- immediate and future exhibition possibilities
- possibilities for a permanent installation
- education and learning experiences
- exposure to new cultures
- you always wanted to visit this part of the country / world
- exposure to the public
- sales
(If you have any to add please email me)

The TFAA Visiting Artist Program is described as:
"Visiting artists become part the community of more than 275 active artists affiliated with the Torpedo Factory Art Center.  With space in one of the 82 publicly accessible working studios, artists can display and sell original work while interacting with summer visitors.

MY ADVICE
1. The best part of this residency was having a space to concentrate on my work. I had time and completed a few commissions.
2. I had only a couple of sales during my two residencies, both to friends in the DC area. If sales are important to you I would recommend a visit or a few conversations with existing artists that sell work similar to your work, or find them online and ask them to be upfront with the amount of sales. Most visitors are having an enjoyable day out seeing art and getting a meal. I noticed jewellery was a big seller.
2. If you want to make work you have to be able to make your work and have a conversation with visitors at the same time. Not a problem here. 
3. You have to like talking with retired people, families and children. There are lots visiting.
4. You should be okay with selling other artists work. You are using 1/2 of an existing studio with your art and art from other artists. They are away while you are there so you have full run of the space. You should be good with answering questions on your studio mates work and ringing up sales. This will be rehearsed when you arrive, and you can always phone the other artists if you have questions.
5. The most busy hours are on the weekend. 
6. You have access to other practicing artists. Make time to meet as many as you can.
7. There are changes happening with the ownership of the Factory, that is on people's minds. Everyone has a different opinion.
8. I noticed many studios didn't open at 10am, so early visitors were often walking around the Factory with no access the the art. 
9. The staff and other artists at the Factory are extremely helpful, thanks for the great visit!
10. I especially like the staff of the Art League Gallery. They have a new show every month.
11. You can use the space just about anytime. Some of my most productive hours were after 6pm when the building was closed.
12. You have to pay for your own housing and for use of the studio. The Factory is set in a beautiful historic area, a 20 minute walk to the Metro, then it is 1/2 an hour ride to downtown Washington DC, with lots of free museums.

Hope this helps any future artist considering a Visiting Artist Residency.