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Step #3: Connect with other artists
Many artists do not have sideline cheerleaders in the form of friends or family. Some people just don’t get us! If you’re in this predicament, you must seek or establish your own cheering squad. Without some kind of support system, you will find yourself beaten down and constantly on the defensive. Sometimes you can obtain such support by getting involved in existing artist organizations.
Being around other artists builds your confidence and sustains you emotionally. In addition, you will hear about opportunities you never knew existed if you hadn’t been part of a group. You’ll hear about them before they are ever published! You will also be eligible to apply for grants, awards, and exhibitions sponsored by the organization; be introduced to new art products and materials; and receive business advice in many areas (software, accounting, taxes, copyright, and more). Most importantly, with the right organization, you’ll make contacts that lead to the next step on your career path. As you are learning, contacts play a seminal role in your success.
MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT ORGANIZATION
Before you join an organization, make sure it’s a good fit for you. Don’t join just for the sake of joining, which can end up being a waste of time and money. Attend meetings as a guest and consider where you might fit in. Before you join an organization, you should do research.
You aren’t joining just to be a member. You are joining to become involved. If you’re uncomfortable in an organization, you won’t reap the benefits of your membership. If you can’t find the right fit in an existing organization, bring together a group of artists who meet regularly for the purpose of supporting each other.
Perhaps becoming a member of an artist organization that meets regularly in your city is not for you or isn’t enough for you. You might consider “joining” a community on a part-time basis in a distant locale. You can escape once or twice a year to be around like-minded artists in artist communities, sometimes called “colonies.” Some people think of spending time at art colonies as vacations, but they are working vacations. You attend to be inspired and to learn from your peers. Another take on “getting away” is participating in an artist residency with an organization or at a venue. Learn about these opportunities in art magazines, discussion groups, and online lists.
The more you’re connected with other artists, the more opportunities you’ll discover.
Copyright © 2011, Alyson B. Stanfield