Steps to Cultivating Creative Relationships and Seeking Out Local Artist Friends
You don't have to move to "The Big City" or live in a huge creative community in order to find likeminded creative friends. You can start with a few simple ideas right where you are! If you're a little overwhelmed with where to start, that's okay! I've compiled a list for you to begin cultivating new creative relationships.
A lot of people ask me "How do you know so many artists and creative people?! I feel like I'm the only one where I live..." Well, I'm here to assure you that you aren't and it's easier than you think. How do we stop the comparison game long enough to begin a friendship with another artist? Some artists are over confident , fearless, and live out lives both loudly and proudly, and wear their creative persona for all to see. There's both in this world because it requires balance. Creative folks tend to hide in the shadows since many of us feel a little awkward in typical society. We also may feel inclined to hide our work from others as we feel it "isn't good enough". Creative folks tend to be a little awkward and shy, and that's okay.
How do you find the folks that will bring out your best, and in turn you can provide them with the same? How do you connect with others? How do you find people like you? Just be kind, say hello, ask questions, and share. Seriously, it's that easy. Take the steps below as quickly or slowly as you're ready, willing, and able to do, but aim to try one new goal a week! Before you know it, you'll have cultivated a great garden of flourishing friendships and building your own network of creativity.
- Bring your creativity everywhere and go mobile with your work! Carry your camera, your smart phone & mini lenses, your paints, your pens, your sketchbooks, your canvas...anywhere and everywhere you can.
- Sit in public places like cafes, restaurants, bookstores, county parks, and do your thing. Make your work or take your photos in view of the public eye.
- Answer questions from inquisitive passersby. Let them know what you do! Share what you've made with them. Ask their input or opinions. Inquire if they also create.
- Frequent local businesses and get to know the staff and owners. Become a regular, and make your presence known by being your authentic self. People can sense when someone is genuine and thoughtful.
- Seek out local art galleries, art shows, opening night events, music performances, open mic nights, poetry readings, etc. Go and attend as a patron until you can gain the courage to submit your own work.
- Submit your work to shows both large and small in your local area. Find "Call to Artists" by using instagram, twitter, facebook, and other social media. Ask questions at local galleries about upcoming shows, or submit your works at college/school to student showcases.
- Talk to other creative people about their own work if you can't speak about yours. Ask them questions about how they started, why they do what they do, what inspires them to make things, etc. Get into their minds and allow them to open up.
- Say hello to the people you pass on the street.
- Search local hashtags on social media, and get to know the creative folks in your area. For instance, since I live in New Jersey, I often peruse the #njartists tag to find people in my state. I check their feed, leave them commentary and feedback on their work, ask questions, etc. I have also used this to invite people to the Offbeat Arts NJ events like our pop-up shops or small art shows.
- Commission other artists who make something you cannot or do not! Ask another painter to create work for you, and build a relationship. Offer art trades or paid commission work from your fellow creatives, because that kind of support from within the community really matters!
- Share the posts and work of others whenever you can - on your social media pages, with your friends when you're out, etc etc etc. Buy from your neighboring vendors at craft shows, art fairs, or festivals/fairs.
- BE KIND. Just having casual conversation or opening the flow with a complement about the person next to you can create a new connection.
- Invite friends to bring their own art supplies and meet you somewhere in the middle for a creative hang out night.
- Ask for suggestions on what new supplies you could try. You can ask someone at an art opening, behind the register or in line at your local art supply shop, the person next to you in class, blah blah blah. It doesn't matter who you ask or where - just ask someone who's more advanced to suggest a beginning spot. Ask about how they got their beginnings, and where you should look to learn more. Don't ask for trade secrets, but ask so you can learn your own style. Go back to them after you've practiced, and share your progress and invite their feedback.
- Give and be open to receiving constructive criticism. If you're commenting on someone's work, go beyond "that's really cool" and give them a few words extra. "That's really cool. I enjoy the shade of BLAH you chose. It reminds me of the time I went to BLAH. It makes me feel THIS. Why did you choose BLAH shade? I think your next piece would be cool in THIS or THAT. Have you considered BLAH?" Fill-in the blanks with your own choices and words. Remember to be honest, but kind.
- Host an art party with your current friends circle where everyone gets to try something new which none of you have ever done before. This levels the playing field somewhat, as you will all be experiencing a new creative style or skill. Some will pick it up faster than others, but nearly everyone will be at the beginning level as you start the night. You could even have each of your friends also bring a guest of their own to expand the circle, and create new connections. Bringing together different styles of artists and skill levels to an entirely new project can help you all learn to see differently and work together!