*Open Studio Visiting Creative, ellen martin, is the editor of The Martin Gallery on facebook, a resource for artists. To read her complete Bio, click here.
Many people would advise you to skip membership in local artist organizations, but I feel strongly that they should be joined and supported. Before you join, make sure that they display the type of product you produce. Many show jewelry and other craft -to-art items and some don’t. You want to make sure that you are getting the best use of your money.
Why do I think these memberships are so valuable?
- For just the networking possibilities alone. I’ve met countless people through these organizations, including Andrea Rosenfeld, whom I just would not have otherwise met. One thing leads to another and you really don’t ever know who you will eventually meet, and where the networking will take you. The organizations also provide low-stress environments for the networking. Local openings are usually fun, and are usually crowded with like-minded people, thus affording endless networking possibilities.
- The experience of showing your art. This is also invaluable. When you exhibit your work, you learn how to do a submission. You learn how to present your work properly. You’ll see how your work looks on the wall, in a display case, on a jewelry stand. You’ll see how it stacks up against other work and perhaps even learn how to improve on it.
- Feedback – you’ll get feedback from your fellow artisans, artists and viewers. Don’t identify yourself to viewers right away and just stand close to them to hear what they have to say. You want to hear the real skinny on your work, right?
- Volunteering possibilities – there are so many committees where you can learn a definite skill: how to hang a show, how to do fund-raising, how to do communications or marketing. All of these skills really help you down the line and eventually you can mentor someone else which is a great way to “give back”.
- Entering juried shows – Most local arts organizations have an annual juried show which is judged by a curator at a major art institution. One event I know of was judged by an Assistant Curator at MoMA. Another by a curator at the Guggenheim. These can be especially important for you. Some of these curators judge different shows on a regular basis. Eventually, they may notice your work. If you win a prize, even better.
- Most of the local organizations send out emails and print newsletters that include member news. You can submit any shows, accolades or press you receive. Again, another great way to get your name out there.
- Some of the local arts organizations have artist registries where you can upload some of your work into a gallery. This is another opportunity. Also check on policies for leaving your bio on file in the gallery, and leaving some of your work in a bin.
- Sometimes they submit a listing to the New York Times Arts section and guess what; the NYT does publish these on a regular basis.
At some point you may decide to take your work in a different direction, but local memberships can provide a great support group a great way to support the arts and a wonderful base of knowledge.
*Do you belong to your local Art Organizations? How have they helped you? What stories can you share here?
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