Networking Tips for Emerging Artists
So, you've got some cool-wicked art that you'd like to show to the masses, you are keen to get your smelly foot in art world door and make some money. We know the feeling. Lucky for you - we've put together some actionable tips to grow your network in the right way. Networking is one of the most important things you can do to build a name for yourself, but you already know that. So let's take a little look then shall we, so you'll be mingling with an arty crowd like some hot shot before you know it...
Supporting Your Friends > Supporting Already Successful Artists
You may expect to see “go to private views” as #1 on this list, but we’ve started with this one because it’s likely going to be the most valuable way to grow your own audience and art career in the long run.
As an emerging artist, it's crucial to maintain relationships with your current peers. Taking an interest in your artist friends careers will not only help you learn and grow as an artist but also help you build a supportive community whilst they do too. What you give, you get back.
Staying in touch with peers from uni or college is super important as these artists will be your foundation for the future. Even when life gets busy, make an effort to keep in touch, whether it's through social media, attending exhibitions, or meeting up in person. If it's been a while, it's not too late, get back in touch!
Additionally, meeting friends of friends is a great way to grow your circle organically. Attending events, social gatherings, and other art-related activities can lead to meeting new people and building connections. Even just hanging out at their studio or going for a drink and not even talking about art. By taking an interest in others efforts and by supporting their work, you will build a strong network of peers that will not only provide you with opportunities but also challenge you.
Help Your Community: How Sharing Opportunities Benefits Everyone
Let’s be real for a second - As an upcoming artist, you may be tempted to keep cool looking opportunities to yourself in order to increase your chances of being selected. However, promoting and sharing opportunities with your network actually benefits everyone in the long run, including you!
By sharing information about open calls, exhibitions, and other art-related opportunities, you are not only building trust and goodwill with your peers (super important!) but you’re helping to create a more vibrant and inclusive art scene. The valuable part of this sharing habit, is that even if you aren’t selected (boohoo) someone you know might be, someone who will thank you for helping them out. They may put in a good word, invite you along and ultimately will be grateful for your generosity and support. Of course, this will come back around and they’ll support you too.
Collaborating with others benefits your own career in the long run. By sharing opportunities and promoting the work of your peers, you can help to create a more supportive and nurturing environment for everyone in the art world. So, next time you come across an opportunity, consider sharing it with your community. Even if it’s not the right opportunity for you!
Show Up at Private Views
OK, here it is! The one you already knew about but haven’t quite gotten around to… Showing up to private views is a crucial aspect of networking as an emerging artist. In short, being at exhibition openings offers a prime networking opportunity, allowing you to meet and connect with other artists, curators, and art lovers (potential customers!).
Not to mention you’ll get to see a bunch of cool art (sometimes bad) and have a free drink or three. From experience, the most valuable thing about going to these events is that it really helps to make the art world seem smaller and more approachable. You begin to realise that social circles overlap, and you can identify key players in the art scene. Building relationships with these individuals can help you to gain insight into the art world, learn about new opportunities, and potentially even secure representation or exhibitions.
A little tip, from us humble exhibition organisers ourselves: We often enjoy the smaller, DIY and less fancy shows more than the white cube and sauvignon blanc ones. To be honest, you'll often find better art at these shows and the organisers will appreciate it a lot more. Consider going to different types and sizes of exhibitions, rather than walking around Mayfair like a zombie. You may just find that you get more out of it.
If you're based in London, we'd recommend checking out Seb's Art List. Whilst there are a bunch of newsletters about art events, we've found that this one is carefully selected and very comprehensive. You'll know what private views are happening in London.
Talk the Talk
We know the feeling - you turn up at a private view, don’t know anyone and gravitate towards a corner whilst you hold your warm beer. Making a point to introduce yourself and say hi can feel scary, but just remember that the organisers are holding this event for this exact purpose - so that people turn up, people like you! Organisers are keen to hear feedback and get chatting away about the show, it’s what they enjoy doing and this will be met with positivity, every time.
Building relationships with the people who run exhibitions, art fairs, and other art-related events is of course a really important aspect of networking for emerging artists, it’s also something that is incredibly easy and free to do.
Something we would highlight is that it's important to make genuine comments and conversation with curators and gallerists and avoid the sales pitch about your own work. Most people start by complimenting the show and asking how it was put together. You could ask questions about their other shows in the past, or express interest in showing up for their future events. It’s also worth being mindful of the context and to avoid approaching organisers when they are busy or stressed. Running an exhibition can be hectic at times.
Check out this TED talk by Mark E. Sackett, who coined "The art of active networking". Some quality advice on networking effectively, in a genuine way.
Networking Takes Time & Patience
Growing a network and audience for your art takes time, it’s as simple as that. Sure, being shouted out by a big insta account or represented in a gallery will give you a bump, but overall the long term trend of slowly growing your audience continues. It’s a shlep and there are no shortcuts.
Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results, and don't give up if you experience setbacks or rejection. Keep attending exhibitions and events, meeting new people, and building relationships with those in the art world. Remember that success in the art world is often about who you know as much as what you know, so building a strong network of contacts is essential.
With time and effort, your networking efforts will pay off, and you'll be well on your way to building a successful career in the art world.
BE REAL, BE CHILL & KEEP AT IT
Nobody wants to hang around with a leech. You’ll make friends and genuine connections with artists and organisers if you just be yourself. So relax and have fun! But keep grinding, keep showing up and focus on your long term goals.
It would be quite silly of us to write an article on networking and not encourage you to come over to our Instagram, wouldn't it? Start networking right now! Come and say hi: @uncoveredcollective
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