Recruiting the Artist

Recruitment methods

Bringing the right artist with the required skills, attributes and knowledge on board is a critical decision for the delivery of your project. Once you have developed your Artist brief there are a number of ways in which it can be promoted.

‘Open Call’ is when the brief is openly advertised. Potential platforms include the Arts Council’s Artjobs free service, arts channels such as Curatorspace, local channels or potentially paid for nationally focused channels such as Artists Newsletter, depending on the type of artists and reach you are looking to achieve. 

  • Pros: A transparent process and opens up the opportunity to a wide pool of potential artists not yet known to you. Also helps to build general awareness and excitement about your project.
  • Cons: Can be a time consuming process; more established artists may not apply as they are used to a direct approach.

‘Invited Applications’ is when a brief is shared with a shortlist of preferred artists. Sharing the brief with around 6-8 artists should ensure you receive a good level of response. 

  • Pros: Allows you to target particular types of artists, skills or specialisms that you are seeking for your project.
  • Cons:  You will only receive applications from artists you are already aware of. 

‘Invited competition’ is when a shortlist of artists are approached and offered a fee to develop design ideas. One design idea is then selected to be taken forward.

Pros: Useful if you are short on time and want to quickly consider a range of options for a completed artwork (lessens risk compared to the direct appointment method). This could also be useful if you want to apply to funders to realise the next stage of the project.

Cons: You need to invest budget in paying artists design fees upfront. Also it is unlikely that artists will have the time and resources to undertake very detailed research to inform a design idea, compared to having one selected artist develop their ideas over a longer time period. 

‘Direct appointment’ is when you have a clear idea about who you want to work with and approach them directly with the brief.

Pros: Allows you to quickly get your project underway. May also be useful if you are looking for an artist to fulfil a highly specialised brief.

Cons: Lack of transparency, may not be allowed due to some procurement rules, doesn’t allow the benefit of other artists unknown to you being able to put themselves forward.


  • Having allowed artists a period of 3-4 weeks to respond to the Artist brief you now need to follow a robust and fair process to recruit the best candidate for the role.
  • Applications should be reviewed and scored against the selection criteria you outlined in the artist brief, providing an auditable recruitment trail.
  • Criteria could include things such as - understanding of the brief, depth of previous experience, ability to demonstrate transferable skills, suitability for the context, technical knowledge or other requirements.
  • Ideally you want to use these selection criteria to narrow down a shortlist of artists to invite to interview with the project steering group.

Artist Interviews 

  • In preparation for the artist interviews the steering group should agree a set of standard questions to ask all candidates.
  • Artists could also be asked to provide a short presentation about their work and interest in the project.
  • Following interviews with all the candidates a selection discussion should be held by the steering group which is minuted and agreement on the preferred candidate reached, with robust reasons for the appointment being noted.
  • Artists should be paid for travel to attend interviews if these take place in person, alternatively interviews may take place via a virtual meeting.

Interview follow up

  • Following the selection decision, the appointed artist should be informed and references sought.
  • Unsuccessful artists should be contacted as soon as possible and offered the opportunity for feedback.
  • Once acceptable references have been received the artist can be contracted, in line with the scope outlined in the artist brief.
  • At contracting stage artists should be asked to share proof of required levels of any insurances (e.g. Public Liability, Professional Indemnity etc).
  • For permanent commissions it is important to establish whether the artist has trusted fabricators and/ or experience of collaborating with fabricators, structural engineers and installation experts.
  • Provide the artist with an opportunity to share any access needs they may have. They may wish to share an access document for clarity.