Seeking & Selecting Artists

Squamish Public Art Squamish BIA MuralWalk

There are several avenues to securing an artist for the artwork(s):

  • An open call-out will result in more applicants, which can have pros and cons. Applicants may apply who may not be qualified or experienced enough, and it will take longer to go through the applications which may not be optimal for projects with shorter timelines. However, an open call will ensure a range of artists, younger or upcoming or new artists have the opportunity to bid for opportunities, and a more diverse pool of applicants will apply.
    • Open Call by creating and distributing a Request for Qualification (RFQ): this call-out outlines the project location, budget, scope, theme, timeline and other specifics relevant to the project, and offers applicants instructions for submitting. Artists are usually asked to submit a letter of interest, a resume and samples of past work. 
    • Open Call by creating and distributing a Request for Proposal (RFP): an RFP is more comprehensive than a RFQ and outlines the project location, budget, scope, theme, timeline, and other specifics relevant to the project, and offers applicants instructions for submitting. Applicants are required to submit ideas, sketches and budgets for a proposed project, along with a letter of interest, a resume and samples of past work.
  • Invitational RFQs and RFPs are similar to the above, except they are sent to a pre-selected, qualified pool of artists and not open to all artists.
    • Is advised when the project requires a fairly experienced artist with specific skills or knowledge
    • This may require support in the form of a consultant, curator or organization with access to artists to choose from. 
  • Direct selection
    • May be appropriate where there is a very short timeline and/or a highly specialized opportunity
    • May involve a consultant, curator, or organization to either identify an artist based on their previous works, identify an artist from a registry or pre-existing pool of artists, or for the selection committee to make suggestions of artists
    • It is still good practice for the selection panel to interview several candidates for a specific opportunity.

Tips for Promotion/Advertising/Finding an Artist

The process that you choose from above will determine how small or large your pool of applicants are.

  1. Squamish Arts encourages those seeking to commission public artworks to seek diverse portfolios to provide opportunities to artists of different backgrounds, ages, crafts, and experience levels, rather than everyone working with the same few artists. This will ensure that our town has a range of public art and that our artist community is supported with fair opportunities.
  2. Is there an existing community of artists, a hub, or location where you might be able to promote the call out – for example a metalworkers guild or maker space, woodworking groups?
  3. We invite you to share your artist call-out with Squamish Arts for help promoting and sharing the opportunity. Consider also sharing with other arts agencies, such as ArtsBC, and your wider partners and networks
  4. Work with a public art consultant who will create and distribute the above, or match your project with their pool of artists, and go through a custom process.
  5. Contact Universities such as Emily Carr University of Art and Design to discuss opportunities to engage student artists
  6. Create a job ad and post on job platforms

What to Include in an Artist Call-Out/RFP

Request for artist biography

Have them describe their art practice, background and relevant experience for this project.

Make sure they include images that show to artists previous work ideally related to the RFP.

Overview and potentially visualization of their concept (specify file types and quantity, such as a preference for jpg or png x 10, or a video). Include questions to have artists explain why their concept is relevant to the project selection criteria.
Share required dimensions, materials, installation, DOS requirements; any artist preference such as local to Squamish, certain number of years of experience, certain types of works etc.
Provide info. on context, community, and environmental influences to be considered. Provide a map and/or visual of the site.
Specify the budget allocated for the works and whether this includes installation, an expanded scope such as community engagement, and explain what can and cannot be covered by the funds. Requesting a full budget from artists is optional at this stage.

Include a detailed timeline from start to finish.

The artist could be chosen from one application, a two-stage process (submit expression of interest and then a full proposal), a voting or competition process, interviews, etc
We recommend artists be chosen by a selection committee panel. Detail the selection matrix so artists understand how an artist will be chosen.
Include a the email and/or phone number of the person who should be contacted for more information. 
  • Will there be a site visit/in person or virtual meeting?
  • Include examples of the types of works you are looking for, this can include inspiration images
  • Artists references to speak to their past experience, skill sets and art practice
  • Artist insurance requirements, warranty on the work, liability for people working on the project as well as post-installation.
  • Copyright:  does this belong jointly to the artist and to the commissioning organization?
  • Contract:  specify whether a contract will be signed, what are the deadlines, what are the payment terms, and are payments made in instalments or lump sum

Selecting an Artist

Selection Committee: Voting members on a selection committee might include arts professionals, the project’s building and/or landscape architect or engineer, a representative from the District if possible, and at least one citizen at large who represents the community where the project is located. A conflict of interest policy should be required to participate.
Selection Process:
  • Gather responses to call-out or invitation, review submissions
  • The selection committee should use a scoring matrix or system to narrow down candidates. Questions should score artists on their creativity, quality and technical ability, as well as appropriateness for the space/project/community. Example questions and weightings are: 
    • Evidence of working in the field of public art for more than five years (2 points)
    • How well does it achieve one of the themes? (3 points)
    • Community participation – How will you include community members and residents in this project? (2 points)
    • How will the project benefit the community? (3 points)
  • Once shortlisted, artist(s) will need time to create an initial concept if they were not asked to submit one with their initial application. The pool will then be reduced to a small selection of artists being paid to develop a detailed design. 
  • Agree on an appropriate amount of time for the detailed design to be submitted (another six to eight weeks)
  • Once a final, detailed design has been agreed-upon seek feedback from the DOS where required, as various departments (real estate, engineering, arts and culture) may have feedback
  • Create and sign a contract to proceed with the work: A single contract may be used to define the deliverables and acceptance procedures for each phase of the project, or separate agreements for different phases: Concept Proposal, Detailed Design and Fabrication/Installation. The original proposal may change in the course of negotiating the practical considerations of Detailed Design, affecting scheduling, placement, fabrication, moral rights, etc. (Public Art Toolkit)
  • Either the artist or the commissioning organization should take quality photos of the artwork and document a public statement from the artist. The Squamish Arts Council maintains a registry of public art in Squamish and any works can be added to this registry so that the artwork information is not lost over time.
  • Community Resources

Other Resources

Artwork Requests

Are you a business looking to submit a Request for Proposal for public art? Click the button below to fill out the RFP form.