My First Grant


The following post was written by our Director, Monika Proffitt.

Had I never attended a glass school – and I wasn’t really wasn’t a glass artist – I would have never gotten my first grant.  Let me explain.

It goes without saying that, especially if you’re first starting out, applying for grants is really intimidating.  I applied for my first grant in 2005 and would not have done it had I not been surrounded by really supportive artists at Pilchuck Glass School, where I was taking a summer intensive on glass blowing and interactive installation.  (They offer really cool classes up there, by there way, I highly recommend checking them out –

But back to the story.  I saw the opportunity to apply for up to $2500 for installation art and a month long show (great fit!) and I thought, no way.  I thought I could never get a grant of that size, or for the work I was currently just learning how to make.

I felt too young, too unknown, and too “emerging”.  I was a twenty-something installation artist, with no big shows, no residencies, and certainly no grants on my resume.  Had it not been for the encouragement that I got from the artists I just happened to be around at Pilchuck, I would have never even applied for that grant.

But in the end, I was awarded a $2000 grant (which is the amount that I’d applied for) and I also had a month long gallery exhibition of my firs interactive installation.  And I was one of three selected artists out a pool of over 50 applicants.  It was not only the money that blew my mind, but in the years to come, the real benefit was that my confidence grew.  With each opportunity that I applied for, I was less and less intimidated, and more convinced that I DID belong in that applicant pool.

But none of that would have happened had it not been for the incredibly supportive artists who were way further along in their artistic careers, and who generously held my hand, coaxing me and proofreading my work, as I slowly filled out my first grant application.

What made their help so invaluable to me was that some, if not most of them, were pretty well known artists in the glass world and they already had been through the process of applying for a grant dozens of times before.  They knew what to include and what not to include.

The fact that I had the chance to hang out after class and talk shop with those artists was one of those “hidden benefits” of attending that class at Pilchuck, and one that I could have never known to anticipate.  I am proud to say that I consider many of these talented artists my friends to this day, and back then, I couldn’t have been more fortunate in meeting them at that perfect time that I did.

I mention this because I don’t think artists should have to go it alone.  I realize that, as artists, there are lots of us competing for the same small amount of grant money, or same, select few spaces for exhibition, and sometimes that can leave us thinking we have to do everything alone.  This can lead us to not share information and struggles with one another.  My time at Pilchuck taught me just how much better we can do when we help each other.

Not every artist is going to be as lucky as I was to be in the company of helpful, generous, supportive artists who have a lot of knowledge to share. And to break it down, attending Pilchuck can cost well over $6000 after all of the associated expenses, so it isn’t something most artists (including myself) can just decide to do on a whim, or with regularity.  I recognize just how lucky I was in the summer of 2005.

But it shouldn’t be just about luck.

That is partly why I created an online program with an online community, to serve this kind of function and help artists get the confidence and skills they need so they can apply for big opportunities and grant money, and ultimately, start making a living doing what they love.

The online class is called Artist Resources & Tools (or Art School for short) and with it there is the same kind of supportive environment full of talented, knowledgeable artists from around the world.  The program is comprehensive and the community is fantastic.  The 8 week online training program is designed to develop the professional practices that artists need. The curriculum is based on the six main components of becoming a professional, full time artist. The course includes trainings and interviews with specialists in curating, social media, PR, tech, legal, accounting, and much more.


Join the ongoing conversation in our Starry Night Artists group.

Interested in getting free resources from us? Join our mailing list.

Dedicated to nurturing the careers of emerging artists, Starry Night’s programs are designed to lower the traditional barriers that artists face when trying to establish themselves, and help them to start making a living doing what they love.  To learn more about our comprehensive online training program, Artist Resources & Tools, click here.



Leave a Reply