One of the commonest observations about the artistic life is that it can be rather isolated. Unless you work in some sort of commune or shared premises, you may not interact with other people on a professional level very often.
Because I work in a number of fields – marketing, industry, art and website development – I’m lucky to get around quite a bit, and mix with artists and normal people most days.
For those who don’t, then joining (or even forming!) an art organisation may well be a boost for self-esteem, provide opportunities to extend one’s network, reveal new skills and techniques and enable a collective approach to putting on exhibitions or shows.
Since joining the Herts Visual Arts Forum (aka. HVAF) Jenny and I have become involved as volunteers, and find often ourselves evangelizing the benefits of being not only members, but actively involved in running the organisation.
We’ve personally benefitted from exposure on the HVAF website by receiving enquiries for commissions, and being invited to take part in shows.
We also have a hand in putting on exhibitions – which is great experience when it comes to organising our own – and have enjoyed the collaborative environment of working with the other glass artist members.
We’ve also be lucky to have met Joanna Mason (who runs Hertfordshire School of Jewellery) via the HVAF, with whom we now run a successful and usually over-subscribed programme of stained glass teaching classes.
So making valuable connections is another great reason to hook up with others!
And shortly after we joined the HVAF we hooked up with two other artists with whom we shared venues for seasons of Open Studios in Bucks and in Herts.
And we’re convinced that sharing the marketing and promotions activities is a real bonus – a wider distribution list for invitation emails, a wider appeal for audiences with several types of art for visitors to enjoy, and the sense of shared objectives helps make bolder plans possible.
Another benefit which is sometimes hard to acknowledge is that we all gain from working alongside artists with more experienced than ourselves.
In the same way that chess players seek out players against whom they are likely to lose, artists gain from being exposed to the very best in any field.
I’d love to hear about your own art organisation and how you feel you gain from belonging. Do get in touch!