Five Ways to Enhance your Artistic Market and Build your Network
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.
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.
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?