How to make a great open call?

Are you looking for a visual artist? Are you organising a competition or project and looking for the ideal participants? Do you have a show or creation opportunity in the form of an assignment, a contest or a project? Post an opportunity on Beeld and find the visual talent you are looking for. Below, we take you through a few steps towards a successful open call. 

Step 1: Describe your opportunity

A good open call immediately knows how to attract a visual artist. The possibilities are endless and with a good approach you drastically increase your chances of finding an artist and artworks that meet your expectations.  
 It often involves one of these two types of opportunities: a show opportunity or a creation opportunity.  
In the case of a 'show opportunity', artists with (existing) visual work can respond to your call. 
With a creative opportunity, you ask artists to create a new work in response to your request.  

The most common opportunities:  

  • A competition  

  • Participation in an exhibition, project, etc.  

  • A residency  

  • Make a work as an award, trophy, gift, souvenir...  

  • Create an in situ work: a work that is made for a specific location  

What can not be seen as an open call?   

With Beeld en Kunstwerkt we support Creative Fair Play. This means that we only support opportunities that promote mutual engagement and guarantee sustainable results.  

  Awarding a commission through a contest can provide a great candidate, but ensure proper compensation for participants who create work for you. Reward the process, not the result. Be frugal with the competition format and use clear criteria for awarding the contract.  

Read all about it on Creative Fair Play.  

Step 2: Determine your target group

Who do you want to work with? Do you want to reach everyone or, for instance, do you want to target a certain age group? Does your open call require a specific technique, a concrete theme or a certain size? Is the call open to all visual artists or limited to a specific region? Make sure this is well defined before you launch. By defining the scope in advance, you also make it easier to select. It is not the number of entries that matters, but how they fit within your open call.

Step 3: How do future winner(s) convince you?

For a creative opportunity, it is interesting to ask artists to submit with an online portfolio, a selection of works, a preliminary study or a sketch. Avoid having artists making heavy expenses even before they are selected. Do you want to see how the artists work with the proposal in advance? Then you can work in several rounds and/or propose a small working budget to make a prototype.  
For a show opportunity, it is more interesting that participants can submit one or more work(s) (whether or not within a specific theme).   

  Both for a creation opportunity and a show opportunity, you can choose to have participants respond with a motivational text. In this text, they can briefly state why they are interested in the theme and/or why they are the right person for your opportunity. Often, a short text can be enlightening or can give a surprising impression about an artist and his/her work.   
The more practical information you ask for in the submissions, the easier it becomes to make a decision when, for example, you have to take dimensions into account.  

Step 4: Draw up a feasible timing  

When do you want to launch? How long do artists have to submit and when do you announce the winners? Creating an opportunity takes time. Give both you and the artists the time they need. Do you get the feeling that you are running into delays throughout the process? If so, keep communicating correctly to your (potential) participants.   

Step 5: Choose a correct fee

Every assignment is different, and that requires a fair price.   
Determine the price well in advance. This does not always have to be a cash price, but can also be a unique show opportunity or a feedback trajectory. What if it concerns a creative opportunity? If so, provide a proper working budget that is in balance with the work to be delivered.  

If there are any costs associated with participation (registration, file, materials, etc.), state this very clearly in the call. In any case, make sure that there is something equal in return for the artist's effort. Because here, too, Creative Fair Play is key.  

Step 6: Announce your opportunity on Beeld

What information do you supply?  

  • An appealing title (and possibly a clarifying subtitle)  

  • A short, powerful introduction that summarises your open call (max. 3 sentences)  

  • An extensive text document with more information about the open call.   

  • Go through the above steps and make sure that questions such as who / what / where / when / how are clarified. 

  • At least one image  
    Choose an image that attracts attention. Choose as little text as possible, and let an expressive or atmospheric image do the work.  
    For an open call on Beeld, we prefer a square image (1:1).   

  • Optional: contest rules  
    In this document, you can explain your organisation, make your approach clear and explain the precise timing. It is often more convenient for participants to be able to rely on a document that can be downloaded from the website, rather than an online page.  
    Preferably provide the complete contest rules in a PDF file.  

Send all information about your open call to  

Step 7: Choose your winner(s)

The deadline has passed and you have been sent some suitable entries. Now it is up to you again! If the purpose of your open call was clear, then you can get started quickly. Do you have a few favourites, but still need some more persuasion? Then you can certainly talk to those selected and if necessary, schedule a second selection round. Make sure that those who have not been selected are already aware of your decision.  

Don't necessarily decide on your own. It is often nicer to make the selection together with others. Choose people you trust, but who will also help you look at the selection or submissions differently. Maybe you overlooked someone, or they bring other qualities to the table. As an artist, it is often nicer to receive feedback from a varied jury.  

 Didn't you discover the right artist despite your efforts? On Beeld you will find a lot of artists who you can approach personally with your chance. By filtering on technique and location, you can also search more specifically for the right winner.  

Step 8: Tell the artists, and afterwards the world, about your selection  

Have you made your selection? Great! Now not only inform those who have been selected, but also those who have not. Write a short e-mail to inform them why they have been selected or not. A few words from the jury, or a brief description of how the selection was made, is definitely an added value. You don't have to send extensive feedback, but let participants know that they can contact you if they have any questions. 

No open call, but rather an advert on offer?  

Does an opportunity not meet the criteria to appear as an open call? Then it is usually possible to place the call as an add on the Kunstwerkt website (unless it does not concern visual art).