From application to installation with alum Wendy Lauzon, BFA '18

Tips for a successful first call for submissions experience 

Less than one year after graduating, alum Wendy Lauzon, BFA ’18 (fibre), saw a call for submissions in the October issue of the AUArts (ACAD at the time) Alumni Newsletter. Wellspring Calgary, an organization devoted to the non-medical needs of cancer patients, was looking for an artist to create a piece for its new Randy O'Dell House, Wellspring’s second permanent location. 

“I researched Wellspring and found out more about the organization. I really wanted to be part of it”, says Wendy. 

Wendy called to ask about the commission and was told she had a week to submit. She decided to go for it. 

“I called to let them know that it was almost complete and found out they had extended the deadline another month. This was great news because I did not realize how much work goes into a submission! The deadline was December 1, so by mid-January, I thought they’d chosen someone else. I received an email on January 18 that I’d been selected! I was shocked, really excited and scared!” 

Wendy had just landed her first post-graduation commission and it also happened to be the first she had ever applied for. 

“Wellspring is a wonderful community of people. I feel so fortunate to have worked with them. They were really interested in my work and very excited for me and the finished tapestry.”

So, what’s next for Wendy? “I’m taking some classes at Maiwa in Vancouver and they’ll inspire me to do something new. Never stop learning! I always have so many projects on the go that have yet to be finished, so I’ll do some of that work to enjoy a low-pressure studio life for a bit. I know I’ll be watching for other great opportunities to spotlight tapestry.” 

Wendy’s top tips for a great first submission and commission experience:  

  1. Do include the cost of your time in the project proposal budget. 
  2. Find out as much as you can about who you’re going to be working for and where the work will be installed. The closer you can marry your work with their expectations and requirements the greater your chances of being successful.   
  3. Make your submission stand out. I don’t believe that tapestry is very common in submissions and it was something that really appealed to Wellspring and the donor, the Philip and Harriet Libin Family Foundation, who sponsored the work. 
  4. Plan and schedule your work and don’t underestimate how much time your work will take. Arrange a meet up with the organization or individual to get final approval for the design and clarify timelines, then check in often because timelines tend to change. I was originally asked to have it installed by the first of August 2019. At the end of May, I checked in to find out how construction was progressing. The tapestry was to go in a brand-new building that was under construction. Thankfully, as most new constructions go, there were delays. I, gratefully, received a new deadline of September 1. At the beginning of August, I received a hard deadline of September 30. I began working 10-to-14-hour days to get the tapestry off the loom in time to do the finishing work, and get the installation done for the deadline. 
  5. Leverage your connections. Don’t give up or back out if you get overwhelmed. Ask for help and believe in yourself. I designed a new way of installing my tapestry and was able to get support from my husband’s wood-shop teacher to create it the day of installation. We hung the tapestry Friday, September 27, three days before the deadline.  
  6. Do your very best work. Challenge yourself to do something great and don’t forget to document your process. 
  7. Don’t produce something that doesn’t match your proposal. 
  8. Keep perspective, don’t panic and spoil an amazing experience. The process should be enjoyed! 

Summary: Do your research; put a lot of effort into your submission; begin right away, even if it’s only playing with ideas; be willing to consider compromise on content or details if the commission is important to you and your career; lastly, have fun.  

Wellspring Calgary is looking for another artist! 

Deadline for submissions: November 1, 2019

Timeline: Commission needs to be completed by July 2020

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