The Art of the Application | Work Samples: Digital Images and PDF Manuscripts

The Art of the Application | Work Samples: Digital Images and PDF Manuscripts

Applying for the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship? Here’s how your Work Sample can work for you.

In this Art of the Application post, we share tips for preparing your digital images and PDF manuscript Work Samples. Keep the recommendations below in mind as you compile and polish your application.

Digital Image Work Samples

Whether you choose to document your work yourself or hire a professional photographer, images must be high quality for your application to be competitive. Be sure to review all of your work samples before you submit to make sure they appear exactly as you intend.

Consider these questions when creating your digital files:

  • Is the color saturation and white balance correct when viewed on a monitor? You may need to edit your digital images on your computer before you submit. However, avoid retouching too much. Your image work samples should be true to the original works.
  • Are your images clear and in-focus? If you plan to document your work yourself, try to use a tripod and consistent lighting. These simple tactics will help ensure your images come out looking crisp. If you’re scanning physical photographs to create digital files, use a quality scanner with high resolution. Your images should remain clear, free of pixelation, and in-focus when projected at a large scale during the review process. 
  • Have you followed the formatting requirements stated in the Application Guidelines? If your images are not properly formatted, they risk appearing pixelated or too small or large to be viewed on NYFA’s online review platform. You can easily edit and reformat the pixel dimensions and resolution using applications such as Photoshop, Preview, or Paint, among many others.
  • Are your image files named correctly? To ensure your images are viewed in a specific order, you need to make sure you name each of your Work Sample files correctly before uploading. You must begin each file name with a number 01 through 10, followed by the title of your work. During the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship review process, moderators will read aloud the title, date, dimensions, etc. of the first and sixth images.

There are countless online resources that will walk you through photographing and editing your work. The best recommendation is to start well in advance of the deadline.


PDF Manuscripts

Literary applicants can submit up to 20 pages of manuscript as their Work Sample. Read through the Application Guidelines to ensure that your manuscript is formatted correctly for your discipline.

Here are a few pointers to help you prepare your PDF Manuscript:

  • You are allowed to include more than one project or work in your 20 page manuscript; however, you should supply enough text to give the panel a clear sense of each piece. Alternatively, you can focus your manuscript on a single piece, possibly including one or two acts or scenes from that one work. If you feel your work is best represented in fewer than 20 pages, you can submit less.
  • Start your Manuscript off with a section that creates a strong sense of place or character, providing enough dialogue or context to quickly engage your reader. Keep in mind that your manuscript does not necessarily have to begin from the first page of your work.
  • Do not include your Work Statement, Excerpt Explanation, or Cultural Statement in your PDF manuscript. This information will be available to panelists elsewhere in the application. Instead, use your 20 pages to unfold the storyline of your work.

There’s no one right answer on what to include in your manuscript. Just select work which you feel is your strongest, and choose excerpts that draw your audience in and leave them wanting more.

For more information about the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, visit our website and view our Fellowships FAQ.

– Hannah Berry, Program Associate, NYFA Grants


NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are administered with leadership support from New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Find out about additional awards and grants here. Sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter NYFA News to receive announcements about future NYFA events and programs.

Images from top: Ayumi Tanaka (Fellow in Photography ‘16); Richard Tuschman (Fellow in Photography ‘16)

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 36.0px; text-indent: -36.0px; line-height: 20.0px; font: 14.7px Arial; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}
span.s1 {font-kerning: none}

Amy Aronoff
Posted on:
Post author