Becoming an Artist / Giving Back Series: Part 1 - Network ALL the Time!

As I was flying from LAX to IAD to go home for the holidays I was in the giving spirit and wanted to put together a few things I've learned in the first few months while transitioning to a professional artist. This is probably related to my OCD and my former career as a systems engineer and business manager but I love creating lessons learned, sharing feedback, and helping others. I invite you to follow along with these living and learning posts on becoming a professional artist.

Part 1: Network ALL the time!

Starting out as an artist is really exciting but can also be really crazy and stressful. Honestly…it is hard, hard work but I’m here because I want you to be successful. I’m all about helping others and lifting people up and staying positive. That said, I put together some lessons learned and tips for artists looking to jump start their career.

Nothing is more important than having a network of people that not only support your work but want to share your work. Reach out to local businesses, ask friends if they can host your art and get you more exposure. You might feel like you’re selling out at times but you need to get your name out so make sure you can clearly state what type of art you create and how people can find it. Be excited, sound excited, act excited about your art. Share with the world what you create and why you create it. You can still be humble while sharing art. Casually mention your work and why you're excited about it. Post a photo on your blog or social media accounts...you might surprise yourself with the support you get from friends and family (and soon the rest of the world!).

 A couple of my small paintings hanging out in home

A couple of my small paintings hanging out in home

As you talk to more and more people you’ll get a better sense on how to read people who are interested and people who could care less about art. It’s always fun to promote yourself but if you’re getting pushback don’t be afraid to ask some fun questions and get to know your audience. 

Keep an eye out for collaboration opportunities. What does that mean? Maybe you end up sitting next to a singer or songwriter on your next flight and you’ve been meaning to collaborate with someone to use your art for their album cover. Maybe you run into an interior designer that has been looking for abstract art for a new client.  Always be open to learning more about what people do and don’t be afraid to suggest some type of cross-discipline opportunity.

Remember that networking doesn’t have to be boring…you can network your way through all the participants of a local art crawl. I recently went to a DTLA art walk where a small group of people get together to check out different galleries in downtown LA…lots of the people on the crawl are artists themselves so it’s really easy to ask questions but you’ll find lots of resources and the lay of the local art landscape from just chatting with other artists. Don’t make networking a buzzkill…find something art related that you’re interested in and go check it out. Bring a friend or fly solo and just talk to everyone (bring your business cards). Another easy way to connect with people if they’re artists is to ask them if they’re art is on social media. Pull up Instagram and ask where you can find their art…boom, instant networking. No business cards? No problem. Ask them for a card or better yet follow them on Instagram on the spot!

Check out part 2 - quality photography. In the meantime you can sign up to subscribe to my free monthly smartphone wallpaper. Get a little SoCal sunshine in your inbox once a month and keep a smile on your face. Sometimes I send art, sometimes I send beach photography...maybe I'll send both! Head over to the main page of my studio site, scroll to the bottom and subscribe!