The Quest for a Guggenheim – Budget, Notification, Rejection and Closing Remarks

The Quest for a Guggenheim – Budget, Notification, Rejection and Closing Remarks

Part 4 in a 4 part series…

Around April 10 the formal announcement will be made. The Fellowship awards vary, so no telling what they will give you. But figure on average about $50,000 more or less coming your way.

If your application is rejected you will receive an email a few days before the announcement of the Fellows for that years Competition.

Here is my rejection notification…


The rejected applicants portfolios will start being returned in May. It may take many months to get your portfolio back. Two months have gone by and I’m still waiting for the return of my photographs. When I contacted the Foundation to inquire about the return shipment I was told they only have one person to handle the return shipping and she was  swamped.

If you are successful you will be asked to submit a budget. I’d advise to take your time and submit a detailed budget. Don’t just blow it off as I would do with a cavalier…send me whatever you want to. I’m not very good at doing things I don’t like to do. And ‘playing accountant’ is tops on my don’t like to do list.

Being a born bohemian, I have always concentrated on doing my art rather than trying to make a living. Consequently I’ve never earned much $ or had much $ to devote to a project.  If I can get by with some food, a roof, a few SD cards and batteries I’m good. But that is how it usually is with most artists. Money is one of those irritating needs that can sidetrack an artist from concentrating on doing their art.

noun: Bohemian; plural noun: Bohemians; noun: bohemian; plural noun: bohemians
1. a native or inhabitant of Bohemia.
2.a person who has informal and unconventional social habits, especially an artist or writer.
“the young bohemians with their art galleries and sushi bars”

(…well, you probably wont be eating at sushi bars if your a broke bohemian. )

Most artists don’t do art to make lots of money, they just care about producing their art. No one is saying it would not be nice to make some money. But for me it would have to come as a ‘no effort’ offshoot from my own work and not as the prime goal. With me, the only time money comes into the picture is when I ask the question…do I have enough money to do the project?

If I look at all of the projects I’ve done in the past 48 years, 0% of them would have been possible if they were based on making a profit. Consequently, I could have never shot ANY of the photo projects I’ve ever done…if I put making money first.

W. Eugene Smith was a textbook example of the dedicated bohemian sacrificing profit, life and family in order to do their art…

I often wonder how some of the old time artists would do today. Back in Smith’s time you could get a cold water flat in NYC for $25 a month or less.

Here is Smith’s famous ‘Jazz Loft.’

W. Eugene Smith mr (2)

When Smith needed money he would pawn his gear.

W. Eugene Smith pawn ticket

Even so, broke Smith gave us many priceless photos over his career.

W. Eugene Smith mr (3)

Smith did not want to waste money to fix a window. Instead he used it as a matte box to shoot through.

W. Eugene Smith mr (1)

I had read when Smith died he had $18 in the bank. Well Smith, as well as myself would probably have liked to have been born rich, but neither of us did not let $ stand in the way of doing what we wanted to do with our photography.

But the reality is this…Smith’s selflessness and dedication to his art are not valued very much nowadays. At least not in a world of 2 billion cell phone cams at large.  All people want to see are the photos. And then it is on to the next zillion photos to view as they scroll down their phones.

In an intro to his review on Amazon of  Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 by Virginia Nicholson, Lleu Christopher distills what fuels the bohemian life.

“Nicholson has a genuine appreciation for the bohemian spirit, and acknowledges the sacrifices made by many obscure artists, poets and others existing (often marginally) at society’s fringes. For some, the idealistic decision to forsake conventional society for a life dedicated to art, romance, poetry or perhaps a vaguer idea such as beauty or authenticity was never rewarded with any kind of material success. Was there any compensation for those living such marginal lives? Nicholson makes the case that for many, a life dedicated to art, romance and freedom is its own reward. For those who embody the bohemian spirit, material comforts and security are not worth the price of suppressing one’s creativity and individuality.”

Well, enuf reminiscing about the bohemians, lets get back to the Guggenheim….

If your looking to bring home a Guggenheim, the budget is just another way you can show you are a conscientious and detail oriented person to the Foundation. So, if you are successful and are asked to submit a budget…do better than me and take it seriously.

The budget can include living expenses, assistants, gear travel and most anything connected with your project. The printing costs of a book connected with your project would not be acceptable.

There are many books and sites that can advise you about the whole process from finding grants to writing the budget. Here is just one book…get them for free from your library.

The Foundation used to ask current Fellows to recommend future grant prospects to be solicited. I don’t know if that is still the policy nowadays, as there does not seem to be a shortage of applicants.

Here is a large collection (124 pages) of archival correspondence from the Foundation that covers a number of areas.


I don’t hold grudges and I appreciate all the work the Guggenheim Foundation has done. So, after I was informed of my rejection I wrote the Foundation and offered them a gift of approximately 250 letter size archival pigment prints from my 2 pitched projects (Piercing Darkness & The Americans…60 years after Frank) as a donation to the Foundation. The prints would be spiral bound in the form of 2 hand-printed artists’ books…I never received a reply from the Foundation.

If your rejected for the Guggenheim, don’t take it personally. About 95% of the applicants are rejected. Suck it up and know you are part of an illustrious group of great artists that have been rejected as well.

Here are just a few of them…

Jack Kerouac

Frederic Prokosch

Berenice Abbott

Ellis Wilson

Les Krims

Francesca Woodman

Angelico Chavez

Well, this brings me to the end of the series. I’d advise you to look seriously at applying for a Guggenheim.

The application is free, you can apply yearly – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ellis Wilson had to apply for 4 years before he was awarded a Fellowship. Others will never receive a Fellowship, even with a lifetime of applications.

Always remember, expectations are preplanned resentments. No matter what the outcome with your Guggenheim quest, if you do your art for love…you will never be disappointed.

Do great work, be persistent and best of luck with your own quest for a Guggenheim!

Daniel D.Teoli Jr.


Women of the Beat Generation Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Girls of the Beat Generation

A forthcoming six volume artists’ book series by social documentary photographer Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

A complete list of artists’ books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.


Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Small Gauge Film Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Advertising Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. VHS Video Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Audio Archive
Daniel D.Teoli Jr. Social Documentary Photography