Recommended: Annual meetings

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Party balloonsIf you want to meet other artists and talk with them about local resources and outlets for your own art, here’s one great approach:  Join art associations and clubs, and — here’s the important part — go to their annual meetings.

Unlike some corporate annual meetings, art associations’ meetings can be very sociable and fun.  Frequently, the associations’ important issues are discussed and voted on, board members are elected, and then everyone stays to chat.

Often, refreshments are served. (Volunteer to help the refreshment committee, for extra networking opportunities.)

Invariably, everyone discusses his or her art career.  Here’s the most important thing that you can do: Listen!

You’re there to learn from others, and — given a chance — they will tell share valuable information.  They’ll talk about where they’re showing their art.  They’ll talk about the gallery or shop or fair that was a bad experience.  They may say where they found a great deal on frames, canvases, bulk orders for batting or fabric… and so on.

Oh, it’s fine to ask questions about how you can get into a specific gallery or shop.  You can inquire about a store or show that you’re not sure about.

Start by listening to everything others say.  Don’t interrupt with your questions or comments.  Let them talk.  Agree when your experiences have been similar.

Then, when they’ve said everything that they wanted to, ask a few — just a few — of your own questions.

You can form many wonderful, genuine friendships at these kinds of meetings.

In conversations like these, I’ve learned about other, useful groups.  I’ve connected with other artists working with similar media to mine, and we’ve put together orders to buy our supplies in wholesale volume.  That cut my production expenses by nearly 50%.  I’ve met members who were opening their own shops or galleries, and were looking for consigned artwork to sell.

Attending meetings has been incredibly beneficial.

Many art associations and groups hold their big, annual meeting around May or June.  Others schedule them near the end of the calendar year.

Those meetings are one way to meet a large number of active artists, and find ways that you can help each other.

And, in some groups, the annual meeting is when members sign up for major upcoming shows or other opportunities.

Join local art groups, no matter how humble or lofty.  Go to their meetings, especially the annual meeting.

You’ll learn a lot and share what you know with others.  Meetings are usually a wonderful, relaxed opportunity to meet other artists and network with them.

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