Yesterday I received a letter from a foundation saying they would grant me a scholarship for two years worth of tuition at Angel Academy of Art, Florence (www.angelartschool.com ).
First I felt like then I felt like .
Here's what I did to get there.
First, I searched for foundations that give grants to individuals. The whole concept is quite unknown in Germany where I live (I don't even know the german word for "grant"), but there are many, many small foundations that support individuals, artists, women, students, disabled... by giving them grants. I searched foundation directories (google that for finding foundations!) and a few hours later I had a list of 70 (!) foundations whose criteria I was pretty sure I met. Mostly I wasn't sure though. Many of these foundations had no website, and provided very little information at all, so I was taking gambles here and there.
Then, I made a huge package of stuff to send them. It consisted of copies of the following:
- Cover letter with my letterhead
- Three letters of recommendation from artists I know personally and who know me.
- A letter explaining a) who I am, b) what I want to do, c) why I have to do it, and d) how I intend to do it and why I need the grant.
- A CV with past exhibitions, publications and works in the fine art/illustration field
- Graduation paper with my grades 'n stuff
- Report card from the U.S. American school which I attended during an exchange year
- From a doctor, a confirmation about my bilateral deafness
- Registration certificate from Angel Academy of Art
- Four photos of my paintings and drawings
Of this whole package I had made exactly 70 copies at a local copy shop. Altogether, I spent about 300 euros on copying & paper costs, packaging, and shipping these 70 applications to their respective foundations.
Important: Finding out who your addressee at the foundation is, and spelling his or her name correctly!
A few days after sending those 70 big letters out, two came back as undeliverable. Slowly, the rejections began trickling in. So far, I have received about 40 rejection letters, for many many different reasons. (for example, “you don’t meet the criteria”, “we support only Catholics”, “we support only nonrepresentational art”, “we have no more money”, “we support only individuals from area XY”, “we don’t accept applications from individuals”, etc. etc. )
However, three foundations mailed me saying that they would consider my application in their next conference. Of these three, one has now decided to give me a grant.
From all the others I haven’t heard so far.
The bottom line is... you just gotta try.
Also, it is extremely helpful if you are in any way “disadvantaged” or belong to an ethnic minority. Be sure to mention that! Personally, I am deaf since birth yet I spent an exchange year in the USA – things like that make people think, “wow, she must be courageous!”
I am sure that there are at least some foundations in every country. And if you really live in a “poor” country with no foundations, you can mention that in your applications to foreign (U.S.?) foundations – there are many who support international students!
Furthermore, I had explained in the letter that I already had saved the tuition for my first year at Angel Academy of Art. (I’ve been saving since 2003 because I actually wanted to spend it on vacation in Japan, plus I earnt money with commissions, plus my grandparents gave me money on graduation). It shows that I am very committed to studying at A.A.A..
If you are really committed and passionate about your goals, it will show! You will be able to express that in your letter of motivation. And from there, not much can go wrong.
That’s my experience, and I hope it was helpful... just let me know if you have any questions, or add your own experiences here! Perhaps we could even turn this into a general useful "How I got a Scholarship"-thread!!!