Making connections: how to build an artist community (2023)

We’re all familiar with the ‘starving artist’ archetype: a sombre and solitary figure that hides away, labouring obsessively over their paintings. While this myth persists throughout artist biographies and period dramas, the reality of the artist’s journey today couldn’t be more different. In our globally connected world, success in any profession is often contingent on forging strong relationships with like-minded people, and artists are no exception.

Making connections: how to build an artist community (3)

Surrounding yourself with a supportive community of artists can offer you perspective, encouragement and opportunities, but making new friends as an adult isn’t always easy. Getting a job in a creative industry, or being enrolled in art school are sure-fire ways to find yourself embedded within a community of artists, but in the current economy, what if these options are no longer viable? We outline seven alternative strategies to help build long-lasting creative friendships.

Join an artist association

Artist associations are a great way to integrate yourself into a community of similar people and access new opportunities. Each association differs in terms of its focus, size, and demographic, but they all generally function on the basis of annual paid membership. As a member, you will be able to participate in exhibitions, critiques, meetings and other more specialist events such as mentorship programmes. Consider what kind of relationships you want; are you looking for a small local group that meets frequently? Or perhaps you like to travel and prefer to be part of a larger, national group. Whatever your preference, an artist association is a sure way to reap the benefits of community.

Take a class or attend a local workshop

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Remember how easy it was to make new friends as a child in school? If you have some time to spare, why not sign-up to a class or workshop? Not only will you meet other practitioners, involving yourself in these activities is a chance to expand your skill set, access feedback and enrich your current practise.

See if your local college or community centre runs any night classes for life-drawing or pottery, you never know, you could be the next Grayson Perry. Alternatively, if you are a graduate, why not try the alumni network of your university or college, they often hold networking events for past students.

Utilise social networks

In an increasingly virtual world, social media can be a vital tool for building your network. Though there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can help you identify other artists and creative events in your area. Start by following local artists and engaging with their posts, it will let them know you’re around and give you an insight into their work from which to start a conversation. The events function on Facebook and sites like Meetup are also great places to start searching for gatherings. Remember that online connections should be a supplement for ‘real-life’ interaction, not a substitute for it.

Go to opening nights and studio tours

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Show support for your community by attending local events such as private viewings and open studios. It can be intimidating at first, but people will appreciate the effort you make to get to know their work. Don’t be scared to introduce yourself and ask plenty of questions — engaging in authentic conversation is the surest way to build solid, long-lasting relationships. Make it a priority to maintain a presence at these events, after a while you’ll notice the same faces and become much more comfortable. Open studios, in particular, are important opportunities for in-depth conversation with artists, as they tend to be less hectic than opening receptions. The book I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquetteby James H Bae has plenty of useful advice on how to navigate the social aspect of these events.

Get a studio in a shared space

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When inspiration dries up and opportunities fall through, it helps to have people around you that understand what it’s like, and who can offer guidance based on their similar experiences. Many cities have old warehouses or offices dedicated for use as artist studios. Bagging a studio space in one of these places is one of the most direct ways to immerse yourself among a group of working artists and surround yourself with inspiration. It’s a chance to collaborate with others on new projects, share skills, materials and feedback, whether that be through organised critiques or a casual chat. Often, you’ll find it’s the small conversations during a tea break that can trigger that ‘aha!’ moment that propels your work forward.

Apply for residencies and collaboration opportunities

Always be on the look-out for residency opportunities or group projects. Often, these are national or international opportunities that require travel. When the local scene has become too familiar, residencies offer a chance to develop your ideas in a new environment and meet artists from different cultures. Whilst it’s important to have artist friends in your area, the world is a big place full of interesting people. Forming connections with artists from elsewhere could lead to exciting international possibilities in the future.

Top tip: Learn about residency opportunities and member-submitted events by signing up for theArtWeb newsletter.

Start your own group

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If you’ve exhausted this list to no avail, it’s time to take the reins and start your own group. Perhaps there isn’t a gallery in your town, or it’s difficult to find studio space. Find a venue that will let you use their space, a school or church hall, for example. You could start by running a critique once a month, with each attendee bringing one piece to present. Advertise the event online using social media, ask the local art college to include it in their newsletter. Alternatively, you could arrange a trip to the nearest gallery, or start an artist’s reading group. Be responsive, accessible, and kind to the people you meet and the rest will follow.

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How do artists build connections? ›

Here are nine strategies you can use to improve your networking skills as an artist:
  1. Build a database of connections. ...
  2. Submit art to diverse venues. ...
  3. Keep a current online portfolio. ...
  4. Talk to visitors at your events. ...
  5. Build connections with other artists. ...
  6. Use social media. ...
  7. Create a narrative. ...
  8. Use business cards.
Mar 11, 2022

What makes a good art community? ›

Communities engage members who are serious, with common interests and similar goals. There is widespread moral support and encouragement. Discussions ensue, offering answers, feedback and critiques. Opportunities may be offered and collaborations started.

How do you get connections in the art industry? ›

7 Helpful Networking Tips for Artists
  1. Help Yourself by Helping Others. Approach networking with a “pay it forward” attitude. ...
  2. Meet Other Artists and Offer Support. ...
  3. Prepare an Elevator Speech. ...
  4. Look to Connect, Not to Sell. ...
  5. Collect Business Cards and Follow Up. ...
  6. Bring Your Own Business Cards (Lots!) ...
  7. Relax.

How do artists grow local fanbase? ›

5 Ways to Promote Your Tracks and Grow your Fanbase as an Artist or Manager
  1. Use Social Media the Right Way. Having an active presence on social media in the digital age is extremely important when it comes to marketing music. ...
  2. Network in the Real World. ...
  3. Collaborate with Other Artists. ...
  4. Send Demos. ...
  5. Music Education.
Nov 3, 2022

How does an independent artist build a fanbase? ›

How to build a loyal fanbase from scratch
  1. Find your first fans on social media. ...
  2. Combine social channels to become a powerhouse. ...
  3. Be your own PR. ...
  4. Harness the power of email marketing. ...
  5. Create a community building website. ...
  6. Make it fun to be your fan. ...
  7. Be exclusive, but not too exclusive.

What is the best way to build connections? ›

10 effective ways to build connections
  1. Participate in your industry. ...
  2. Be outgoing. ...
  3. Establish multiple styles of contact. ...
  4. Find commonalities. ...
  5. Provide value. ...
  6. Show your gratitude. ...
  7. Publish your work. ...
  8. Develop an online presence.
Aug 11, 2021

What are the four types of connections? ›

Internet Connection Types: WiFi, Broadband, DSL, Cable.

What builds a strong connection? ›

Good relationships rely on good communication, whether it's face-to-face, on the telephone or email. Being open, honest and professional helps establish trust and rapport. Listening is just as important as talking. Active listening is a valuable skill to develop and helps build trust.

What are the 4 important impacts of the arts in the community? ›

People intrinsically value the arts in their lives—arts entertain, inspire, inform, and provoke us.

How does art shape a community? ›

Public art reflects a community and its surroundings working to cultivate a cultural identity by setting a community apart and attracting people to its uniqueness. Artwork helps express a community's values and creates an elevated sense of awareness for community members and visitors.

How do artists find their community? ›

Where Do I Start to Look for an Artist Community?
  1. Community Art Groups. Check at your local library or community center for community groups for artists.
  2. Enroll in an Art Class. A class can also be a good way to meet other artists in your area or online. ...
  3. Art Fairs or Shows. ...
  4. Online Communities.

What are supportive networks for artists? ›

These can include a muse or mentor or even a commissioning agent. As long as these individuals broadly 'intend' to influence the art or art-making process, and the artist intends to get support from them, we consider them as a part of the artist's support network.

How do you empower local artists? ›

Here are 7 essential tools that can empower artists as entrepreneurs.
  1. Writing workshops. ...
  2. Legal Workshops. ...
  3. Website Workshops. ...
  4. Digital Marketing Workshops. ...
  5. Media & Public Relations Workshops. ...
  6. Fundraising & Grant Writing Workshops. ...
  7. Personal Wellness & Network Workshops.
Jun 18, 2019

How do artists become more social? ›

Go to Gallery Events

And, don't just stick to your own gallery openings! Put yourself out there, support other artists, and feel free to take a close friend if you are an introvert. Show a genuine interest in what other artists are making, meet new people, and be prepared to talk about your artwork.

How do small artists get noticed? ›

5 Ways For A Small Band To Get Noticed
  1. Play as many gigs as is humanly possible. The gig is the small band's ultimate marketing tool. ...
  2. Use social media. Social media has completely changed our ability to promote ourselves. ...
  3. Don't waste money. ...
  4. Broaden your horizons.

How do independent artists thrive? ›

Finding success as an Independent Artist
  1. Writing and performing your own original music is a big part of being a musician, whether its a solo effort or as part of a band. ...
  2. Write Write Write! ...
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. ...
  4. Get Out There and Gig. ...
  5. Always Make a Good Impression. ...
  6. Be Your Own Manager. ...
  7. Social Media.

How do artists grow followers? ›

8 Best Tips for How to Promote Your Art on Instagram
  1. Done is better than perfect‌ People who follow you for your art want to see the process. ...
  2. Use Stories to your advantage‌ ...
  3. Keep track of your engagement‌ ...
  4. Try working with video. ...
  5. Make your feed reflect your gallery‌ ...
  6. Use tags and hashtags‌ ...
  7. Collaborate‌ ...
  8. Use ads‌
Jan 18, 2022

What are the 3 strategies in making connections? ›

Introduce the three types of connections: text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world. Read the text aloud. Use the Think Aloud strategy to model one of the three types of connections.

What are the steps in making connections? ›

6 steps to making connections…
  1. Know your own business and its agenda. ...
  2. Know what an ideal connection looks like. ...
  3. Identify key events relevant to your business. ...
  4. Start before you're desperate. ...
  5. Identify a shared problem. ...
  6. Maintain respectful engagement.
Aug 30, 2016

What is connection strategy? ›

A connection strategy is a plan for how your business is going to stay connected throughout the year with one or more people or groups. The specifics of the strategy are tailored to your goals and who you need to stay connected with: customers, prospective customers, donors, members, employees, partners, or investors.

What is the importance of creating connections? ›

The Importance of Social Connection

There are many benefits to connecting socially. One of them is the impact it has on our mental health. Connecting with others can help with an overall feeling of self-worth and purpose. It can lower our stress, help us live longer and decrease our risk of isolation and depression.

What is the importance of making connections? ›

Children can expand their thinking by making connections. Children sort and categorize objects as one way of learning how things are connected. Making connections is just another way to describe learning how things are related to each other and how the physical world works.

How do I make my connection deeper? ›

Building Deeper Connections with Others
  1. Practise Active Listening. ...
  2. Listen to the Feelings Behind the Words. ...
  3. Give and Receive Honest Feedback. ...
  4. Be Willing to Nurture Relationships. ...
  5. Be Ready to Give. ...
  6. Always Be Open to New Relationships.
Jan 22, 2020

How do artists contribute to the community and society? ›

Artists provide creative, intellectual and emotional insights into society at large, impacting the masses and challenging the status quo. Art helps cultures unite and boosts economic growth—helping the world become a prettier, better and happier place to live in.

How can art heal a community? ›

Through their art, they can tell stories that resonate in society and inspire people to action. Artists can help the world by joining communities and helping them raise awareness about important issues.

What are the outcomes of arts engagement for individuals and communities? ›

Arts engagement is often cited as a contributor to individuals' health, wellbeing, and connection to community; as a vehicle for strengthening social bonds and reinforcing cultural identities; and as a driver for community livability, resilience, and economic vitality.

How does art promote community engagement? ›

Arts-based engagement helps participants cross cultural and communication bridges. Through the arts, diverse participants can learn to share and hear each other differently, increase understanding, and manage conflict. Arts-based engagement gives more diverse groups a stake in the process of community change.

What does community mean in art? ›

Community art is artistic activity that is based in a community setting, characterised by interaction or dialogue with the community and often involving a professional artist collaborating with people who may not otherwise engage in the arts.

Does art build a society we live? ›

It gives us a place to gather as a society

Beyond personal development, the overall social impact of the arts is essential to understand. Cultures big and small unite through the arts to build better communities.

What is a community of artists called? ›

An art colony, also known as an artists' colony, can be defined two ways. Its most liberal description refers to the organic congregation of artists in towns, villages and rural areas, often drawn by areas of natural beauty, the prior existence of other artists or art schools there, and a lower cost of living.

What type of art is most in demand? ›

Modern or semi-abstract landscapes seem to sell particularly well. These days, the trend in décor is towards the minimal and modern, so it makes sense that tastes in art would follow suit. Impressionistic landscapes also have a wide appeal.

What is the biggest art community? ›

DeviantArt is the world's largest online social network for artists and art lovers. Founded in August of 2000, the site has grown to have more than 44 million registered members and attracts more than 45 million unique visitors each month.

How do artists get noticed? ›

It takes a lot of work to get your art out there, but it's worthwhile. Apply to shows, join with fellow artists and mount your own show (libraries love this.) Approach neighborhood restaurants to hang your work, and apply to all those contests you see in art magazines. Exposure is always good.

How do artists find their niche? ›

Analyse the Market For Your Niche

Look for the market and your audience as well as see how your work can make a longer impact on others. Also, you have to make sure that there are much people in the market doing the same as you and are they getting successful with this art interest.

How do artists find opportunities? ›

Opportunities are the backbone of the career of a successful artist. When an artist stays engaged with the world around them, they watch their income increase and their business grow. The best way to stay engaged is by taking part in fairs, exhibitions, competitions, open calls, commissions, and residencies.

What is the best way to support artists? ›

5 Ways to Support Artists
  1. Buy Their Products. The most obvious and direct way to support an artist is to buy their products. ...
  2. Subscribe to Their Online Platforms. ...
  3. Spread the Word. ...
  4. Buy Their Art NFTs. ...
  5. Promote Them on Social Media. ...
  6. Get Out There and Support Artists.
Jan 27, 2022

How do you build a strong support network? ›

Some Ideas for Building Your Social Support System
  1. Volunteer. ...
  2. Take up a sport or join a gym. ...
  3. Start a book club and invite some people to join who you don't already know well. ...
  4. Meet your neighbors and co-workers. ...
  5. Join professional organizations. ...
  6. Use online resources.

What are the 4 support system of arts? ›

The supportive infrastructure of the non- profit arts and cultural sector included financial, social, professional, and ideational support systems.

How does art bring a community together? ›

Art binds. Culture generates social capital and strengthens a community's character. Art brings people together physically — at galleries, museums, performance spaces — and culturally, through its capacity to tell a community's shared story, to inspire reflection, and form connections that transcend differences.

How can an independent artist build a team? ›

Here's some of the key steps in building an efficient team around your music.
  1. Figure out what kind of team you need. There's no single formula for a team that will work for every musician. ...
  2. Bring on team members when the need arises. ...
  3. Assign roles and responsibilities.
Mar 16, 2018


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