The Power of Consistency: Cultivating a Sustainable Art Network
What is one practice that artists can use to increase the sustainability of their careers?
We’ll let you in on one simple practice that has the power to build successful art careers.
Keep your art network up to date alongside your art practice.
The art world has developed to connect artists, art professionals, and art viewers through a variety of online and in-person platforms. For artists, it’s important for your network to build and grow with you.
Below, we have gathered some tips, tricks, and professional advice to ensure the sustainability of your artistic career.
Divide your studio practice into administrative work and creative work.
This is essential for a healthy balance in your art career.
Without the stress of outreach and communication hovering over you, that extra time will be used exclusively to work in the studio.
Using quick-update platforms such as Instagram stories may be beneficial to providing short glimpses into your studio life without much pressure on you. They’re also a great way to have your audience involved in your creative process!
You can pose questions and polls to get more engagement with your audience.
Show part of an artwork instead of the whole; think about the process over the final image! Give sneak peeks on your techniques to show your audience the steps that go into creating works. Viewers will feel like they have special insight into your creative practice, which will make them more likely to feel connected to you.
Consider if social media is right for you (it doesn’t have to be).
Posting monthly updates of your studio, resources, or events on a blog or website are standard options, but there are a variety of other ways you can keep your following engaged.
Keep a growing list or Contact Group on Artwork Archive. This allows you to send updates or event emails If you are participating in events such as shows, group exhibitions, or open studios—plus, you can quickly send off updates to these groups using Artwork Archive.
Update your network in relation to your artwork.
To find what works for you, think about your goals—then, work backward to see what best fits your needs.
Start small! Building a network doesn’t have to be intimidating. You probably already have contact information for family, colleagues, friends, and other artists in your life. This is the starting point for your network.
Gather contact info from people within your community to gain peer-related inspiration, knowledge, and struggles. These relationships tend to lead to opportunities like group shows, critiques, and additional resources.
Learn more here: How to Network for Your Art Business
Absorb advice from art world professionals.
Artwork Archive spoke with the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Brooklyn, New York, to learn more about how artists can network for their careers.
ISCP programming for their artists and curators includes public-facing events such as open studios and exhibitions in their two gallery spaces. They encourage open doors for a collaborative environment and conduct various social meet-ups and gallery visits each month.
They emphasized the importance of starting your network with your artistic contemporaries. This comes into practice with artist residencies and the networks that you build in these programs.
How do they suggest doing this? ISCP generously provided advice on how artists can best grow their network.
First, don’t be hard on yourself. Allowing flexibility within your practice and knowing that there is a range of ways to network is critical to finding what works best for you. Some important factors to keep in mind while getting started are to ask other artists who they have connections with. Many opportunities come from artists mentioning other artists they are familiar with to a gallery owner or curator.
Have a mailing list and send out quarterly newsletters to keep your network up to date, without forcing the connection.
Develop your elevator pitch for brief moments of interaction—break it down, practice it, and gather feedback.
Don’t forget to mention artists you like in conversation to provide opportunities for others. Lifting each other up is essential to a support network. For example, ISCP has an entire studio floor for NYC-based artists to maintain a continual conversation with their community. This produces a reciprocal exchange between New York mentorship and international contemporary dialogue.
Build out your professional art network.
Build out your professional art network with connections with a variety of art professionals. Consider a wide range of professionals like art shippers, framers, curators, art gallery consultants, art administrators at art organizations or non-profits, art handlers, researchers, art historians, and the like as part of your extended art network. All of these people within the field will get your name around.
Plus, this can increase your credibility; the more people are mentioning you, the more opportunities will open up in the future. As your network starts growing, develop a process for evaluating what is working for you. Maybe you need to work on growing more general contacts or look towards a more niche field.
Be sure to always check in about why you are doing this kind of networking and how you measure your success.
As you grow these contacts, you can start looking for client relationships.
Your client relationships are your art buyers or collectors. They are clients who want to follow and support you throughout your art career. These contacts are your last focus because they slowly build out from keeping your other networks consistent.
Clients may be interested in your work and follow you for ten years before they decide which work they want. Your relationship with potential clients is slow and nurtured within the confines of your own comfort. You already created the work and sustained your network, now let the rest come naturally. Ask questions, provide updates consistently, and give your work the under arching administrative support it deserves.
Leverage your contacts with a CMS platform like Artwork Archive.
Don’t just collect contacts, use them to grow your art business!
You have spent time and energy collecting contacts, but the payoff comes from following through. As you divide your studio work, sharing updates and posting becomes a part of your scheduled administrative time. Creating new contacts on Artwork Archive is a part of that too—that means going to gallery openings, museums, art fairs or other artists’ studio visits and collecting emails from people you want to foster relationships with. As you visit more places and see more art, your network will grow with you.
Dividing up your network has never been easier.
You can use Contact Groups to organize your contacts into specific categories like Gallery Connections, Artist Studio Colleagues, Art Fair Interactions, or even more specific such as Digital Work Lovers.
If that’s not enough, you can opt to create a Public Profile to share your artwork through an online presence. You can choose to have your profile on Artwork Archive’s Discovery Platform where people can come to learn more about you and your artwork. This can also benefit you to find other artists who are like-minded in the ways they are choosing to manage, document, and share their works.
Make sure to share your Artwork Archive Public Profile URL in your emails so people can be directed to your page!
Setting up the booth is the beginning of The Makers Market Day, photo by Artist Antje Roitzsch
Nurture your art community.
Your network is a huge part of maintaining a consistently growing group of supporters. Bring out those nurturing feelings and keep those connections alive.
There is a wide variety of artistic collectives that began on the foundations provided above. Starting a network is only half of it; keeping your community updated on what you are doing encourages growth and follow-through. Participatory culture literally means to participate in culture. Keep expanding your resources and searching for new art organizations and programs that you could possibly become a part of.
Platforms such as Now Be Here went through many collaborations, realizations, and iterations to develop into their digital resource today. Encourage a slow sustainable growth that healthily tends to your needs as an artist.
Artist communities and networks have the power to influence the art world.
Remember, Artwork Archive is a part of your community already. We provide a variety of resources, webinars, and questionnaires to help sustain community dialogue. You can use Artwork Archive’s Discovery Platform to connect with artists, collectors, and arts organizations who share similar views about archiving their works.
Plus, stay up to date with the latest art news and get art career advice like this sent to your inbox once a week by joining our free newsletter here.
With a bit of conversation, time, and consistency, you will be on your way to sustaining your career!