The Secret World of Artist Communities

and why we need them to ensure our survival

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(*Disclaimer: No artwork was harmed in the writing of this story.)

You just finished that awesome piece of art you’ve been working on. Whoa! That’s great! I know how much heart, sweat and effort went into it. I know how much sleep you lost. I know how consumed you were with it.

It started with 14 sheets of crumbled paper lying at your feet as the pile grew into a mountain until you finally got it right, your right, your perception of perfect.

Um, but what now? Let’s face it. You won’t see it hanging in a gallery any time soon if ever, and that’s a shame because it’s fucking fantastic!

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Both my children and I have had our work hang in galleries and featured in shows. (Stories are always more intense when you drag children into it). Our pockets aren’t stuffed with cash, curators aren’t banging down our door. We didn’t even make the newspaper. Was it even worth it?

I’m sure there are tons of superstar artists with gallery showing success but I’m not one of them. I can only speak from my own personal experience.

This hasn’t stopped me from creating, though. I’m not sure anything could. Creatives have no other choice but to be creative, even if it’s simply an anxiety reducing doodle no one else will ever see. It’s in my blood and my soul. It’s my coping outlet. It’s what makes me who I am.

The kids and I are still at it just about every day. We even have random art supplies in the bathroom and displayed from our rooftop.

What we can do to get our work seen and out there in the world is to hook up with an artist community. These communities are important for an artist, absolute value and necessity. Art creates a enchanting, colorful and visually enhanced world.

The world needs us. No pressure, of course.

Benefits of being a member of an artist community

Artists learn, grow and progress from one another’s feedback and critique.

Artists empower one another. It’s one of the few aspects of creative work where artist can be inspired and motivated by other artists.

Artists can explore new outlets through collaboration.

Networking is a major contributor for success. There are more opportunities than we as individuals can find on our own.

Discover resources within the community that can help you reach your goals.

Benefits of an artist community who support your work

The more work you share in person or on the internet the more those who admire your work will share your work. Your fans are free marketing.

You can cultivate a following who will purchase your art at in person fairs and festivals, or via online market places.

Engagement with your fans will indirectly provide you with future creative ideas.

You may be able to develop a side hustle gig with commission from your fans.

It’s exhilarating to have the public to share your artwork with others who will appreciate you and the work itself.

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How do you find an artist community?

Get off your ass and go find it.

Your local library most likely has tons of information on local happenings near you.

Register to sell your art at a fair or festival. Not only will this provide an opportunity to make a bit of pocket cash but it will help you build a network.

Google the hot spots for artists in your area. This is what I came up with when I Googled Iowa City.

What if I don’t live in an area with art culture?

Sit on your ass and search the digital world until you find what fits your need (with periodic breaks to exercise for good heart health. That shit is real).

Here’s a few interactive communities I participate in:

Etsy- Only 20 cents per listing, on site forums and lots of community Facebook groups for social sharing.
HitRecord- Collaborative and networking
Deviantart- Lots of conversing, inspirational and motivation support
Tumblr- Dope AF
Doodle Addicts- I’m addicted to this one
Art Community- Covers everything from creative tools, forums, social shares, online events and job listings
All Things Creative- I’m partial to my Patreon creative community (in the words of John Green, “shameless self-promo”)

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In many aspects being an artist is similar to being writer. I spend two hours in the morning writing and then the rest of the day trying to get people to read what I wrote. It’s a part of the process.

We have to engage. We have to bring it to people’s attention. We must scream from rooftops (metaphorically, not literally). We have to stick with it every day, and some days we’ll lose all oomph, feel defeated and think, Why did I stay up all night painting crap?

I mean, let’s be fair. It takes a great deal of creating crap in order to create something good, but It’s okay. We have our community to support us and keep us going.

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©️ 2018, Erika Sauter. All Rights Reserved.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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