Joining a local art group has many benefits including expanding your creative network and making some new friends. Many artists that I know tend to describe themselves as introverts and have a hard time meeting other people. Fortunately, there are many benefits to getting out of your studio and more involved in your art community.
There are many online groups that artists and crafters can join which offer some of the same benefits of meeting people in person. So why put the effort towards traveling to a location to talk to people in person that you likely do not know anything about, squeezing this into your already packed schedule? Creating art and crafts is often something you do alone in your own studio and it can be good for your creative soul to be an active member of your local art community.
You may find opportunities that you did not know existed and find inspiration and encouragement from other artists. Here are a few benefits of joining an art group in your local area:
Expand your creative network
Being an artist is not unlike other professions. You have a product that you want to make and sell, more or less. Your art is your creative business. By having a network of your fellow colleagues, you are able to learn from each other on how to expand your business, discover new opportunities that you otherwise may be unaware of, and get your own name out there! Making yourself and your business well-known can help open doors for you.
Learn new art skills
Continually learning and expanding your art skills can be fun and rewarding. My go to medium is acrylics or graphite, but I love learning from my art group how to create mosaics, paint with alcohol inks, and how to use a soldering iron for new effects. Sharing your skills is equally rewarding; you can help others in areas that you are more expert. It’s a win-win situation.
Learn new business skills
Business skills are just as important as your art skills. Maybe you don’t know how to enter in an upcoming art show, get into your first gallery, or how to sell online. By combining your knowledge with others in your industry, you can really learn a lot. You’d be surprised just how much other people are willing to share.
Bring in speakers
One benefit of joining a group is that you can pull your resources to do things as a group that are simply too hard or maybe too expensive to do on your own. Let’s say you really want to learn more about social media marketing. You have already Google’d how to do it and maybe asked a good friend or two for some tips but still aren’t satisfied with your results. As a group, you have an excellent platform to hire an expert in that field to come and speak to you. Instead of paying someone $100 an hour, you only have to pay $20 if you have 5 people in your group.
Collaborate with other local groups
Let’s take a look at an example of how you can collaborate with other creative groups in your area:
You are an artist who just joined an art group to learn more about local events, how to improve your art and business skills, and everything else we just mentioned. Your group happens to be heavily focused in sculpture, mosaics, and various types of mixed media. Your group decides it really needs to learn more about photography to take their own reference photos and how to take photos of their art for posting for sale online, but no one in your group is very experienced.
This is an excellent time to start looking for a local photography group that might want to swap services. Maybe the photography group would like to learn more about mosaic artistry in return for a photo lesson. Your groups could discuss local events and possibly collaborate on a combined group event. The possibilities are there and you simply never know until you ask! At the least, you are likely to make some new contacts and expand your network further.
Collaborate on group projects and events
Participating in shows is always more fun when you know people. So why not take your group to the next level and participate in a group show? This can be at a local gallery, art walk, or call for artists.
Your local government would be a great place to start if you’re looking for a public project. Have you ever wondered who was the artist of a building mural or subway wall, or how they even got the job? These projects can be large and a big effort, but the reward is worth it. To be able to look at something you did on a grand scale, why not? And what better way to get to know people than to work on a project together.
Inspiration and encouragement
You can be among experts in your field so why not ask for some advice. Your group can hold art critiques where you bring in your completed piece of art and ask for feedback.
You can support each other through creative dry spells. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling that you know you need to finish a painting for an upcoming deadline, but you just don’t feel like it or you start to question what you’ve completed already and if it’s going to turn out beautiful or horrific.
Make some new friends
Regardless of how active your group is in learning new skills or participating in group shows, you can be certain you’ll meet a bunch of inspiring, creative people with whom you likely have a lot in common. I know I did! I’ve learned a lot with the group I joined. I’ve expanded my knowledge about art and art business, I entered my first show in Florida, I've learned about local events that I might not otherwise have known about, and I certainly met a bunch of interesting and inspiring people.
So now that you’re convinced to get out and meet some creative folks, where should you start looking? Here are some ways that I have found useful to find groups to join:
Meetup.com for art/craft groups and art critique events
Local art newspapers and magazines
Gallery events with social openings and closings
Local art shows and art walks (often meetup.com has groups that meet just to walk around these events!)
Facebook groups that meet locally
If you’re in the Orlando, FL area, check out one of the groups I’m part of: The Orlando Art Collective. We meet once a month for workshops and participate in at least one large group art show at CityArts each year. Read more about our group here.