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Joining a Group

by Keith Bond on 12/7/2009 3:14:26 PM

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

We artists tend to be solitary – whether by choice or necessity.  Creativity comes from within and we tend to work alone.  Yet, we have a need to connect with and associate with others.  Because we are so isolated in our work, it is easy to become ensnared by the web of virtual relationships.  This does fill a need we have.  I don’t argue the benefits of online associations, but there are also other ways to fill this need.

One such way is to join a group of artists – whether formal or informal.  Become a member.  There are many artist organizations out there. 

Types of Organizations


You must be invited to join this type of group.  The standards are usually (not always) high.  This is intended to preserve the integrity of the parameters set by the group.


Some organizations are open to the jury process.  The intent is likewise to maintain a certain level established by the group.  Because the jury is usually open to anyone, there is a better chance of getting your work considered.

Loosely Organized Friends

This is an informal association with like-minded friends.  As an organization, there usually isn’t an agenda.  Some will just paint together on occasion.  Others will just get together for lunch.  Some discuss art theory.  Others visit museums together.  Most do a combination of these and other things.

Critique Groups

Usually on a local level, these are typically easy to get involved with.  You bring a work of art to be critiqued by the group.

Marketing or Business Groups

Also usually on a local level and easy to become involved with, these groups are designed to help each other with the business side of things.  Some are specific to the arts, some are open to a broader range of businesses.

The list could go on…

Why should you join?


It is great to gain friendships and associate with like-minded individuals.  Other artists understand you in ways that most other people cannot – including your spouse.  You share encouragement among each other.  These friendships can go far beyond the world of art. 


You never know where connections may lead.  I have gained opportunities because of someone I know.  You may also be introduced to someone else through a common friend who will invite you to participate in an event.  The more you network, the more likely opportunities will come down the road.


Some organizations have exhibition opportunities.  Some are juried, some invitational, some are open to all members of the group.  It is a great way to get your work on display and seen by collectors.


For some, membership in a specific group may be important to your resume.  I know an artist who entered year after year to a certain annual exhibit, but was always denied.  The year he became a member of a prestigious group, he was invited to participate in that exhibit (the exhibit is unaffiliated with the group).  The exhibit organizers placed value (for right or wrong) in his membership in the group.  It legitimized him in the organization’s eyes. 

Again, the list could go on… 

Is the Group Right for You?

Groups are designed for a certain purpose.  You may or may not gain value from membership or participation.  Consider what it will do for you. 

  • Is the group local, regional, or national?
  • If national, will you realistically be able to participate as a member?
  • Are there membership dues or fees?
  • Is the objective of the group consistent with your objectives as an artist?
  • Are you ready for the level of commitment?
  • Have you outgrown the group?
  • Will you truly benefit from the group?
  • Will the group limit you?

Once again, the list goes on…

Choose your memberships carefully.  Don’t just join to have another thing on the resume.  Join if it will benefit you, or you can provide value to the group – better still, both.  You can’t be involved in everything, so choose the very best.


Keith Bond


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Related Posts:


Nurturing Right Connections

Five Steps to Successful Networking for Artists

10 Key Elements for a Professional Art Portfolio

The Jury Game

Topics: Art Business | Keith Bond | Opportunities | Productivity 

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Charlotte Herczfeld
Keith, thank you for another great article!

I especially agree with "Join if it will benefit you, or you can provide value to the group – better still, both."

Being a founder of a new society for artists using a specific medium, this is one of the most important driving forces I can think of, both for you and for the organisation.

If your input adds value to the group, then the benefit for you and the other members will increase.

It is much easier to join an existing organisation than to start one, but it is an option to consider if there are no groups of the kind you want to belong to.

Jeanne Guerin-Daley
I ABSOLUTELY encourage artists to find and join artist groups. A few years back I searched the Internet and I found a small local group that had just recently been formed by Linda Dubin Garfield and Leslie DeBrocky. It was called ARTsisters, and it has been the best thing I ever did for my art career. Over the next couple years the group grew and shrunk in size as artists came and went, depending on their needs. We now have sixteen members, we have held several exhibitions at various locations throughout the tri-state area (PA, NJ, DE) and are creating quite a name for ourselves! We've found that as a group we can accomplish so much more than alone. We learn from each other, and form close friendships as we venture through this life of art.
We started to meet monthly at the local Borders but later decided it was better to meet at our members' houses (taking turns.) We hold critiques about every 6 or 8 weeks among ourselves for whichever member wants to join in. We share knowledge, and help each other out when it comes to the practical things like delivering an ARTsister's artwork to an exhibit if she can't make it. Our mission statement is to help and empower ourselves AND our community, which translates into good things for all (i.e. we have held shows where portions of artwork sale proceeds go to charities.)
Since joining ARTsisters (we have a website: )I have learned so very much about the whole art career thing!!
It was because of Leslie that I discovered Alyson B Stanfield and her ArtBizBlog, who in turn led me to find Clint Watson. I learned how to make cyanotypes when two fellow sisters gave a free workshop (and fell in love with the process); I learned about photographing my artwork and resizing and dpi and resolution,... I now have a(FASO)website, a facebook page, and a twitter account. I have sold several paintings as well as note cards, have had my first solo show, and I continue to grow as an artist through my relationship with ARTsisters. The connection has also brought me to join other art organizations as well which further my development as an artist.
It does require some additional attention to the detail of time management, with all this going on, but I firmly believe it was the best thing I did for my artist career!

Clint Watson
Jeanne - It sounds like you guys are encouraging each other to keep moving forward....exactly what a supportive group should be doing. Thanks for your nice comment.

Sharon Weaver
When I first started painting, being a member of a local group was a wonderful way to start exhibiting, learn from the more experienced artists in the group and develop a social network of artists who are supportive. As my experience level has changed, I can now give back by helping the new artists who are just starting out. So although the group will never be prestigious, I still get a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from participating in the local shows and attending the meetings. Sometimes finding friends is more that enough.

dele george
some young artist in my area have great interest in starting up a group, that can travel together for plain air and to work together as a unit and have a great show.
could you please guide us more in your next article so we can the right footing at the start.
these article came at the right time so thanks.
dele george is a painter from nigeria

David Cressman
im a young painter, starting out, and the article on groups was very useful as I would like to widen my network etc...
Many thanks,David

Adrienne Fritze
Keith ~ This is an interesting topic for me since I established a small organization (Working Artists Network) in Portland OR 5 years ago to help me and my artist comrades on the business end of the arts. During that time I've worked with several artists groups with varying focuses: from critique, to emotional/psychological support, creating work collaboratively, arts councils, even the mayor and the governor's arts dude (both who are artists in their own rights)!

For me, the org I started provides myself and the members who join the group with all the emotional/intellectual/artistic support every artist needs PLUS we have direct access to the broader community that provides us with lower cost health care options, retail and export opportunities, business training designed specifically for folks in the arts, and more.

Of course I built WAN to help fulfill my own needs - I want to be a successful artist-entrepreneur, and I'm tickled to be in the company of the extraordinary artists who are on this path with me.

Toward the end of this year I was told that I'd built "the Artists' Chamber of Commerce" - so now we use that in our tagline - and together we find great comfort, inspiration, joy, partnerships and opportunities sprouting up around us.

Joining the right groups, even if you end up creating your own, I believe is the key to having the Artist's Dream.



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