Building Connections

So many ways of building connections:

As an artist you most probably enjoy `doing your thing’. That is, taking time out to paint as often as you can, forever exploring new concepts and perfecting your style and talent. You enjoy painting so much you can’t help yourself, it’s `in your blood’, so naturally you think and breathe it all the time. Each painting you paint is `your baby’, something you’ve been passionately working on.


But will you ever get around to selling it? What do you think your art is worth? It’s fantastic, dynamic, remarkable, the best!?

Inspired by a South Aftrican scene.

The bottom line is your art isn’t worth anything unless it is sold!

  • No one knows what your talent is like, unless they see it. Seeing is believing! Ultimately people don’t support or back you unless they feel passionately about your art, see that you have unique talent and how committed you are.
  • Also it’s who you know! Network and build connections. Socializing is like `throwing a stone in water and watching the ripples spread and expand’.
  • Oh and capital: Money begets money! You won’t go very far without substantial finances. Framing, wall space in galleries and advertising costs money.
  • Personality counts! Do you have charisma? How do you come across in social events, perhaps on TV shows, etc? Are you an interesting fascinating person? Do you know what you are talking about? 5)  Appearance does count! It’s strange but people also tend to judge an artist’s talent by the artists appearance! What you wear and your body language.
  • Fame means taking up challenges, doing research, being extra observant, creating extraordinary unique work.
  • Folks want to know if you are still painting. I get asked this often. They are so busy coping with their families and careers, that they forget to keep in touch. Keeping people in touch means keep `throwing in more stones in the pond. Making not only ripples but waves in the sea’.
  • Once you are famous people expect you to keep up production. Like writing a best seller, once people love the quality and style of your work, they want more and more, quicker and quicker.

Building connections the right way:

Status connections:

Building connections isn’t easy. If you are starting out selling your art, a lot of galleries won’t accept you unless you belong to an art group. They are influenced by the status of the society you associate with, prominent club, school or college you attended. If you need to join an art group or society:

  • Belong to one which has intellectual stimulus and prominent artists demonstrate on a regular basis.
  • Or build a friendly like-minded community group where artists can discuss their latest findings and encourage each other.

Art societies:

Don’t join an art club or art group until you have fully investigated it. In the interest of being choosy of which club to join, be aware of undercurrent, in-house politics and protocol. Such as presidential clicks safe guarding their status:

  • On the surface they are friendly but talent is discredited if they feel threatened by new talent.
  • At exhibits you could possibly find your painting dumped on the floor and someone else’s painting is on your personal easel. Or your painting lands up in a dark corner.
  • Or strangely your newsletter doesn’t arrive or exhibit form gets `lost in the post’.

Other considerations:

  • How often are privileged friends of the committee selected to do demos when a renowned guest artist couldn’t be found?
  • Annual fees may look low at first glance, but consider additional costs that may occur. Such as your turn to provide eats, lending of art books, exhibit fees, etc that you didn’t anticipate.

If you can’t find or join an art society, make it happen!

Build your own art group:

Build a network of unbiased artists who take their work seriously. Get-to-gathers somewhat like the Impressionists did, when they gathered at Café Guerbois in Paris.

Where possible include gallery owners, fiscal business men who have an interest in art and also visual media connections into your network. If your group has lots of media coverage and receive favourable criting, your group could possibly become prominent and have some influence on the national market. And possibly, eventually on the international network if it has enough prestige backing.

Open air club:

Organize country trips for the artists of your group to do location fieldwork. The type of setup will depend on the personalities, abilities and finances of the group.

At-home socials:

Less serious arts prefer social gatherings where getting together for a chat is a priority. In this case art is part of the entertainment. Invite people to your home where they can watch demos and where advice is given if called upon. Suggest a theme for each event so they know what to expect and bring for the next meeting, eg:

  • Provide `gallery parties’ that include other artists’ work as well.
  • Provide a happy atmosphere and fun-filled events.
  • Leave catalogue and pamphlets of your meetings at the local library.

Networking with local business owners:

Host a monthly group get together of business men, for light snacks or breakfast, either at your place or at a local restaurant for a pleasant enjoyable meeting.

The objective is for everyone to express what is happening in their business, the latest trends, results of projects they initiated, any funny things that occurred in their business, etc. The point is, it’s a support structure and everyone benefits from `keeping their finger on the pulse’ of what’s happening locally and in the business world.

And how would you benefit as an artist from this business group? Art is also a business. Paintings are sold through the right connections. Example: Professional artwork looks good displayed in reception entrances, illustrates the prestige status of the business. Doctors like paintings hanging in their consulting rooms, seminar venues and lodges like art décor, and décor firms need a supply of good art, etc. Paintings can be sold out right or exchange on a monthly contract.

We all have different lifestyles and needs:

Whatever your setup you decide on, consider your spouse and circumstances. How would it fit into your way of living? Are you a loner, do you need more time to produce the work you do? What goals do you have?

How as an artist did you build your own connections?

For more advice on how to get your art sold, check the Art & Fame page and category.