Application Tips for the 2019 Arts Collective

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The COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective is more than a summer program. It’s a space to push the edge of the envelope when it comes to making an impact with the interdisciplinary arts, and to build bridges between artists that may translate into lifelong connections.

To that end, we hope to create a truly diverse class of 2019, and we’d love to see an application from everybody. We don’t consider experience or honors when it comes to fellows, so we hope that every young artist interested in interdisciplinary collaboration and honing their craft under mentors can consider applying.

The CAC application consists of two parts:

  • The essays.

    • (Essay One) Why do you want to participate in the COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective? What do the creative arts mean to you? Why do you make art, and what – or whom – do you hope to address, heal, reform, or influence with your art? (200-500 words)

    • (Essay Two) Teach us something we don’t know in 100 words or less.

  • The work samples.

    • Creative writing: up to 7 pages of poetry and 20 pages of prose; we welcome excerpts from longer works. If you would like to mix poetry and prose, please ensure that your total page count does not exceed 20. Please use the formats .docx or .pdf.

    • Visual art: up to 7 high-resolution photos of your artwork. Alternatively, you may submit an animation sample no longer than 5 minutes. Plese use the formats .jpg, .png, .pdf, or .mov.

    • Music: up to 7 minutes total of music performance. You may use recordings of yourself playing or covering others’ works; we also welcome recordings of original music. Please use the formats .m4a or .mp3.

In sum, we hope to get to know who you are as a person and an artist through your application. Below are some tips for best presenting yourself to the CAC panel.

  • The essays.

    • Be yourself. This advice is doled out by so many application-based programs, but we really would love to see your authentic voice shine in our essays. We also welcome jokes and puns.

    • Show us the magic that your discipline makes you feel.  We want drive, we want zeal, we want an everlasting curiosity in our fellows. Show us how the world opens up when you’re making art, whether it’s on the page, canvas, or instrument. Art gives us shivers, makes us stare wide-eyed into the dark with electricity searing through our bodies – how does it do that for you?

    • Let us know the specifics. How, precisely, has art impacted your life? How have you impacted those around you with your art? Make sure to tell us where your passion comes from. Feel free to write about any groups you work with, any programs you have participated in, any projects you have begun, and more, whether it’s international or local, a community-based activist effort or a one-person research project. Remember to tell us the how and the why.

      • You are encouraged to reference specific parts of your work sample in your essays.

    • There are no limits on the second essay question. You can tell us about yourself, an interesting tidbit about nature, a well-kept secret about your local government, a little fact about a mythological tale, something special about your art, or more. We love this essay because we get to learn a little bit about you outside of your craft. Simply be yourself, and remember that we are drawn towards honesty and creativity!

    • Who inspires you? You are welcome to reference your favorite artists and how they have inspired or impacted you.

  • The work samples.

    • Send us work samples that best represent you. While we would love to read works that showcase your technical mastery of your discipline, we are more interested in art that represents who you are, your unique style, and the topics you hope to explore. In essence, we value passion over technical proficiency.  

    • Art does not exist in a vacuum. If there are elements of your piece which you believe require context to be understood – for example, if it contains elements of a mythological tale from a specific culture – please feel free to include a short  footnote explaining the background behind it.

    • And last but not least, your work sample should help us understand your essays, and vice versa. Both sections of the application should complement and one another to create a picture of who you are as an artist. This might sound daunting, but we can tell more about you than you think through a simple paragraph, which goes back to the very first tip – be yourself. Your voice will fuel all of these aspects.

Good luck on your application! Both sections of the application are due by June 30, 2019.

Read the official guidelines here.

Ready to apply? Click here.


Sarah Feng is the editor-in-chief of COUNTERCLOCK Journal and the founder of the COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective. She is a poet and novelist from the San Francisco Bay Area. She was a 2018 Foyle Commended Young Poet of the Year, the runner-up for the Adroit Prize for Prose, and a Teen Vogue Underwriting Scholarship recipient. Her work is in the Critical Pass Review, the Adroit Journal, Gigantic Sequins, and Up the Staircase Quarterly.