This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for
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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.
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.