Imagine this – you’re waiting at a bus stop with a couple other folks, super tuned into your Spotify playlist, and as you look toward the direction of the bus, you spot a person doodling in their notebook as they wait. You tap them on the shoulder, compliment their style of illustration, get into a conversation about your favorite illustrators, and this conversation carries onto the bus. Cue the business card swap as they get off the bus at their stop. Now you’re starting to network with other artists.
It could be as easy as that, or just saying, “Hey, you make art? Me too!” But networking with other artists takes more than a “yo” and an amicable fist bump. Networking with other artists takes practice and evolves into a long yet worth it journey. The best part of networking is that it can take place ANYWHERE – even a non-art-related scenario like waiting for a bus at the corner.
So what are some general rules to network with other artists?
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The #1 rule of networking with other artists is, well, don’t make networking your #1 priority
If you make it your #1 objective, believe me, people are going to tell and will get turned off. Starting small talk and letting the conversation unwind naturally is the best way for it to happen. If you go into the conversation already trying to make a sale and passing out business cards, you come off as only thinking of yourself.
There’s nothing people like more than talking about themselves – and with that, LISTEN INTENTLY. Find those opportune moments to jump and build on the conversation – not to boast or do a humblebrag, but to connect with them with your own art experiences that you can share. Who knows – you might find that you share the same point of view on something and voila! You two exchange contact information to collaborate on a mural.
Always have your business cards on you
Even if you know you’re not attending an art show, networking opportunities can happen anywhere. Even just at a bar! And with that, if you do exchange business cards, hand them two! This way your new friend can give the card to another person they may know that may be interested in collaborating with you.
Go Where You Can Meet other artists
As I’ve mentioned, networking and meeting other artists can happen at any time. But it also never hurts to put yourself in a position where it’s more likely you’ll meet other artists. Consider going to local drink and draws – those always attract all kinds of cool and talented artists and are a great time in general. Or try using Meetup.com to see what meetups are going on by you.
Never, ever boast about yourself
Really, they don’t care about that last art show award you won or the fact you met [insert celebrity visual artist’s name here]. You’re there to get to know somebody else and see how you can both benefit from each other – treat this potentially new relationship nicely. Don’t downplay yourself – just maybe don’t start with bragging about accomplishments.
Post-meeting phase: Follow up!
Always, always follow up to say thanks or nice meeting ya! And do this sooner rather than later so your meeting is fresh in their head. Continue your conversation and get those collaborations and future meet-ups in the calendar.
These are just some high-level networking tips, but I’m sure there are more! What are some experiences you’ve had? Tell us about it in the comments!
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We’re an artist community built on the power of helping each other succeed — if you’re reading this and have tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments! Thank you!
Illustrations done by the fantastic Katie Lukes