How to Network with Other Artists

If you want to grow your art business, one of the best ways to get started is to speak to other people. There is no substitute for face to face conversation.



Many artists are hesitant to talk about themselves, or self-promote, and that’s understandable. It takes time to get used to being the “marketing person” for your own creative business. One way to get started is to join an art community, local art organization or guild, or other group of artists who are in much the same position and have the same interests. That’s a safe place to begin to share your portfolio and your artist story, and to get feedback and support.

Have you thought of other artists primarily as competition? Although some may compete for the same collectors, artists need each other. Consider an art fair or festival; without a large group of people exhibiting and selling their work, it wouldn’t exist. This type of venue depends of lots of artists and makers coming together to offer an enticing shopping experience for the public.

Artist referral is one of the top ways to get into galleries. Other artists are also often a source of assistance through introductions to people you want to know, and by sharing resources to help you with your own small business. The art community is truly one of the most giving ones to belong to.

Ready to start building that network in your own artist group? Here are a few ways to get started:

Embrace the right mindset. Networking is an act of connecting with other people for mutual benefit. When people approach a networking event with the idea of getting leads or making sales, it often backfires. The process is gradual, and the best attitude to maintain is that of wanting to assist others. What do you have to offer? How can you “pay it forward” so that you become known to your group as a good connection? Why will you be valuable to others?

Listen. Begin your first foray into networking by getting to know other people. Learn about their background and experience, and the type of work they do. What do you have in common? Would they be a good networking partner? As you meet other artists, you will find that some are a good fit to follow up with; take their business card or number and make plans to get together again. Through this process you will meet and come to know a variety of people who are helpful to you – and whom you can help in return.

Stay open to receiving. Being a member of a network is a positive thing. It’s satisfying to know that you can be a good partner to others. But there are two sides to every coin, and you should also benefit from the experience. Expect that as you continue with networking activities, you will receive assistance, too. What do you want to get out of networking with others? You should be able to state specifics when talking with others. Are you looking for gallery representation? Do you want to find a good studio assistant? Are you searching for an art walk or other event to participate in? When you are able to tell others clearly and succinctly what you are seeking, someone along the way will help you find it.

Give it time. Networking is an ongoing activity. It takes time to cultivate connections, and work with them. Other people in your network may become clients, collaborators, or cross-promoters, helping you build your small business while you help them as well.


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