Hopper Prize: Great Opportunity for Artists to Connect with Curators

The Hopper Prize is a granting agency, digital archiving platform, and contemporary arts journal that gives 10 grants per year in the amount of $1,000.00 to artists working internationally. Twice per year, during Spring and Fall, 5 artists are each awarded grants. According to The Hopper Prize, they welcome applications from artists residing internationally, with no restrictions on media, genre, or subject matter. Their website clearly states:

We view the field of visual arts in its broadest and most inclusive sense and therefore make our awards available to artists engaged in artistic practices spanning all methods of production.

Hopper Prize Overview

One notable strength of The Hopper Prize program is that it provides a means for emerging and mid-career artists to get the attention of up and coming institutional curators. Each award cycle is juried by a new team of curators who are publicized prior to the application deadline, allowing artists to evaluate each juror’s unique curatorial voice prior to submitting their application.

Hopper Prize Winner Maja Ruznic
Maja Ruznic, Hopper Prize Winner

Past jurors have held positions at the Contemporary Art Museum (St. Louis), DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), The Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach), and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and these curator’s individual perspectives are clearly on view in the diverse range of artists they have chosen to receive grants.

This is a stark and welcome level of transparency when compared to some other institutions, such as the Pollock Krasner Grant, which does not publicize their review panels at all (and thus intentionally obfuscate the process–who exactly is reviewing your application when you send in your work?), or the Siskind Foundation, who does not list panelists until after the awards are given, thus making it impossible for potential applicants to perform any sort of due diligence prior to undertaking an application. If you don’t know who is reviewing your work, you are essentially applying blind, and this can really hurt your chances.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus your application efforts on opportunities that include fringe benefits that extend beyond the monetary award itself, such as the massive social media exposure offered by an organization like Young Space. The opportunity to have your work reviewed by high level, forward thinking curators is an excellent added benefit of applying for The Hopper Prize. Seriously, we all know how difficult it is to get a curator’s attention, so you should take any chance you get. Keep your eye on their open calls as the curatorial teams change twice per year.

Hopper Prize Grant Winners

In addition to 5 grant winners per season (10 annually), the curators for The Hopper Prize select a shortlist of 30 artists whose work is archived on their website, with past recipients demonstrating a broad range of exciting perspectives. In addition, these artists hail from diverse geographic regions, so artists outside of the major hubs like NYC and LA clearly have a shot at these grants.

Some notable recent winners & finalists include:

This database provides additional visibility for those selected, extending the opportunities that may arise from these awards, and furthermore serves as a great resource for future applicants seeking a window into what makes a strong application. And because the archive is organized by grant cycle, it provides a seasonal overview of contemporary art practice happening across the globe. As with all opportunities, potential applicants should review the work of past winners along with juror biographies prior to submitting their work.

Social Media Check @hopperprize

So where does The Hopper Prize rank on the social media scale? Currently at 19K followers, @hopperprize is one of the most active and engaged social media channels out of all the grant-makers I have covered, with the sole exception being Young Space.

Again, this is an example of a fantastic fringe benefit that comes with applying for one of these awards. The importance of an artist’s Instagram reach cannot be understated in this new era of image circulation. And as an artist with an Instagram account knows (that should be all of us!), building a following is becoming increasingly more difficult.

It is an incredible value to have the opportunity to potentially reach an audience of this scale, and the impact of being featured on a channel like this will undoubtedly accelerate the growth of your own network. And much like Young Space, The Hopper Prize regularly features artists from their applicant pool, so even if you don’t win an award, this is a great opportunity for added visibility.

Hopper Prize Journal: Additional Avenue for Exposure

Again, always review the fringe benefits offered by an organization before you apply. The Hopper Prize excels in this area. Clearly their social media presence dwarfs older institutions, and on top of that, they also offer an additional publication opportunity for artists through their Journal which includes in depth interviews with artists, including Tahnee Lonsdale and Angela Ziqi Zhang to name a few.

The interviews are long form and provide a look at how these artists approach their practice. Definitely explore the articles to gain a better understanding of strategies to use when applying for these grants.

Hopper Prize Application Details

If you’re like me and you’ve applied for numerous grants and exhibitions and are frankly sick of how time consuming the process is, you will appreciate the streamlined Hopper Prize application: the submission process is easy enough that you can get it done in about 20 minutes. The application allows you to submit up to 10 images of your work and contact information. Everything else is optional (no need for letters of recommendation, budget sheets, project proposals, financial statements, etc.). This is great news not only because it saves you time, but it also means the jurors will judge your work based on its merits, not on the length of your CV like most other institions (hello Guggenheim Fellowship!).

In addition, the grants are unrestricted, meaning you can spend the prize money any way you need and, unlike a lot of institutions, there are no follow ups or financial reporting requirements after the fact to show how you have used the funds.

A simple application process that gets your work in front of great curators and has the potential for excellent fringe benefits is a boon for artists working today, who are juggling increasing competition.

Let’s face it, we are working in a highly competitive environment that has clearly outpaced the less competitive times of our older peers and mentors who were lucky enough to land full time teaching jobs, which they then used to support their practice. Times have changed. The era of abundant full time teaching positions, accessible galleries and curators, and less competition has come to an end. We are living in a world drastically different from our teachers and if you want to succeed, you have to acknowledge that and focus your efforts strategical on opportunities that have your best interests in mind.

Just think about the reality of what an artist has to take on today: you not only have to make incredible work to stand out in a saturated field, but to get the exposure you deserve, you must also function as your own social media and marketing expert. There are only so many hours in a day, and the most important thing is to spend time making work. Everything else is secondary, so it is refreshing to see the Hopper Prize acknowledging the fact that we live in a hyper busy world by creating a simple application process to facilitate meaningful connections with curators, provide visibility across a number of channels, and support a diverse array of artists with direct financial assistance.

Pros

  • 10 awards annually in the amount of $1,000.00
  • Great route to get your work in front of excellent curators
  • Simple application process
  • Massive exposure via Instagram
  • Additional visibility via a Journal

Cons

Connect with Hopper Prize

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