How to Creatively Network for Artists

Five Ways to Enhance your Artistic Market and Build your Network

Five innovative ways to successfully build your creative network among fellow artists and professionals.

You’ve sent your proposal, bio, slides, and emails, even held up an “I’m hungry” sign, and no one has told you when to bring in your art. Here are five innovative suggestions, and common cliches, that will have fellow artists, galleries, agencies, and the general public murmuring, “I knew that Artist! I thought she was a beggar.” These valuable ideas will provide a start for artists building a creative network.

Build From the Ground Up

Who do you know that knows someone, that knows someone? Make a list: family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, mentors, and alumni. Check your list twice throughout the day, and revise as needed. Be sure to let everyone know you are looking for connections and opportunities. When you have a lead, follow up.

Social/Professional Networks

Say yes to popular sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LiveJournal, or more focused sites such as DeviantArt, ArtBistro, or ArtInfo. Meetup.com is a great resource to form contacts and attend small to large gatherings, to collaborate and express your media. If you prefer underground social networks, try sites like Tumblr, Rafter Jump On, or Altpick.

There are online professional networks (AIGA, etc.), which usually require a membership fee, that will get you more connected if you do not have offline professional networks available in your region. For offline professional networks, consider co-ops, arts organizations/galleries that thrive on memberships and volunteers, entrepreneur groups, or the local women’s or men’s professional associations. Look at demographics, media, and other specifics. What do you have in common with other professionals? Your local arts council is also a great resource, no matter which media you work in as an artist.

Tip: When you become a member of an online or offline network, offer comments and connect with fellow artists. You will be remembered. Building a network requires effort and maintenance.

Haunt Coffee Shops

It’s true, especially of the independent coffee shops or collaborative spaces… The creatives gather around the fuel that keeps them going between jobs. Bring your sketchbook, laptop, or novel, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, even if it is with the barista. All sorts of people come into coffee shops, especially if they are in a public library (from homeless to CEO). Similar places to consider are restaurants and others of the like, where emerging artists often start, either showing their work or making ends meet.

Self-Promotion

Do plein air painting or caricatures. Do your art to music on the streets. (Some cities require permits or at least permission from a local business whose corner you have taken over.) Attend craft or art fairs in your area of focus. Attend or teach at conferences, workshops, and retreats. Be a presence at gallery hops, whether you are showing or commenting, and find out how the artist got their space. Then, work to get a space. Create business cards, mailers, postcards, and your artist’s statement. Self-promotion can be intimidating, but you are investing in yourself. Show your creativity, be uniquely you, and as they say: Think outside of the box.

Do It Yourself

Be your own muse. Start your own MUSE, another professional networking and meet up group for creatives. Take the few artist contacts you know from the neighborhood and coffee shops you haunt and form a co-op, where you will share a space, host gallery showings, and create. Contact an artist whose work you admire, ask for an informational interview, and keep growing.

These five suggestions will help get you started in creative networking. Don’t be afraid to shine, and go where others have not. Isn’t that what artists do?

Painting Tips for Beginners

Have Fun Creating an Original Painting

Basic information for beginner painters including painting tools, helpful hints, and simple techniques.

For many people, painting can be a relaxing hobby that helps them to express themselves. Professional paintings may intimidate beginners, as they are often detailed and realistic. However, anyone can paint a fantastic painting that expresses a part of themselves, or one that simply looks pretty. The following advice can help beginners to get going in the face of intimidation.

Painting Supplies to Have Before Starting to Paint

Before beginning painting, there are a few supplies that are very important to have. The following items are essential or near essential when first starting out:

  • A drawing tablet and pencils
  • Canvases
  • A variety of paint colors (usually either acrylic, oil, or watercolor)
  • Starter brushes
  • Medium (to mix with the paint)
  • Some sort of towel
  • A palette or palette paper
  • Paintbrush cleaner (for oils)

Easels, an apron, floor coverings, and other accessories are more optional.

In terms of what artist paint brushes to pick, it is often a good idea for beginners to purchase a wide variety of brushes. Large brushes are generally good for wide strokes, while thin, small brushes are better for details. Brushes vary greatly in quality, so it is important to choose how much time one wants to devote to the art. If one is simply experimenting, it may be best to choose cheaper, lower quality brushes. If someone is instead planning on painting much more in the future, it may be better to purchase sturdier, more expensive brushes.

It may also be wise to buy several canvases while one is at the art store. That way, he or she may be more inspired to paint on a whim instead of having to go to the store every time the urge to paint strikes. It can be fun to have, say, a big canvas for a large painting and several smaller canvases for less-detailed paintings.

When choosing what type of paint to use, it helps to have some experience working with different paint types beforehand. Watercolors, acrylics, tempera, and oils are vastly different paint types. Watercolors require a steady, careful hand, while oils are messier but more forgiving. Acrylics are somewhere in between, as they are not as thick as oils but they do allow for some mistakes. Taking a painting class or trying out a friend’s paints first can be a good idea before purchasing a whole paint set.

Basic Techniques for Painting an Art Canvas

Before painting, many professional painters draw their subject from many angles to get a good idea of how they will design the painting, and in order to get an intimate idea of what they are painting. It is important for beginners to get in the habit of drawing pictures beforehand so that they can figure out what they are painting before they paint it. This technique can lead to better paintings and less frustration.

After drawing sketches, many artists will draw a faint outline of their subject directly onto the canvas. Some artists will make the canvas into a grid so that all objects are lined up properly. These lines do not really show up for acrylics or oils, but they may for watercolors. They can be erased with a simple eraser, but an eraser can also remove some of the dried paint as well. Thus, it is best to draw the sketch with a light touch, to begin with.

Once the sketches are done and all items are prepared, painting can commence. When painting, artists can get as realistic or as abstract as they want. If painting a scene realistically, it is recommended that many colors be pulled out of the scene, rather than just the obvious colors. For instance, when painting a brown purse, colors like yellow, red, and purple may be added, rather than just using a plain brown (Bryce Vinokurov, U.C. Davis).

Helpful Tips for Beginners

When getting ready to paint, it is often helpful to set up the whole area first. It may be a good idea, especially if one is especially messy, to cover up the floor or table with old sheets or newspapers. Also, it is often a good idea to wear old apron or very old and ruined clothes. Paint can simply ruin good clothes, so it is important to never wear a favorite outfit while painting.

Also, for mixing “perfect” colors, a painter should squeeze a little bit every paint color out on his or her palette before beginning. This way, one can use all colors that he or she sees in a scene without having to squeeze out more paint every time a new color is needed.

When painting as a hobby, the most important thing to remember is to have fun. A painting does not have to be perfect. It can be anything that the artist wants it to be.