As a student of art history, I love reading about communities of artists that evolved organically over the centuries. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the Cedar Tavern in the 1940s and 50s!

I believe that an artist’s work is better when there are other artists around to question, critique, challenge, and, yes, to praise.

Amy Crews Handle With Care

©Amy Crews, Handle With Care. Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

Artists’ communities are all around. Among other spots, you’ll find artists’ communities in:

  • Coffee shops and bars
  • Residencies
  • Classes and workshops
  • Conferences and events
  • Online (pick your favorite spot)
  • Studio spaces
  • Creative workspaces

Search for a group where you feel at home and nestle in. If you come up empty, you can always start your own.

The Value of Community

There are at least 5 key reasons to seek out and become an active part of an artists’ community.

1. Connection.

Artist-entrepreneurs are accustomed to being alone most of the time, but you need connection.

Your well-being depends on this bond, and so does your art. History’s best art wasn’t created in a vacuum.

When you are part of a community, you belong to something bigger than yourself. You realize you are not alone.

The Art Biz Coach office is within a coworking space. Everyone here is working toward something, and many are entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds.

I may accomplish the same amount of work in my home office, but I’m more inspired when I connect with this energized community.

2. Engagement.

We all need places to share stories, which is why social media and blogs are important vehicles for building community.

Chris Maynard's In Flight 2

©Christ Maynard, Flight Pattern 2. Argus pheasant feathers, 20 x 16 inches. Used with permission.

We also need to remember that the story is only the match that lights the fire. A conversation can’t occur when you’re only broadcasting or talking at people. It’s important that people know they’re heard, so acknowledge community members by responding.

3. Education.

We learn more when we are in contact with others, and that includes things we didn’t even know we needed or wanted to learn.

For example, my office is hosting a workshop on Google Apps next month. I signed up immediately even though I wasn’t looking for such a workshop.

As another example, I’ll soon be teaching my Art Biz Inner Circle about planning, promoting, and leading successful workshops – not because it was on our agenda, but because we had so many members working on similar projects. It evolved because we are a community.

4. Empathy.

When we care about members of our community, we begin to better understand and respect our differences.

Empathy is the awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people – a trait found in abundance in artists. Heaven knows that we could use a lot more of this in our world.

Imagine if artists could facilitate empathy in others. Oh, wait! You already do!

Christine Porter's Feeding Time

©Christine Porter, Feeding Time. Acrylic on board, 4 x 6 inches. Used with permission.

5. Encouragement.

Once the bonds of the community have strengthened, you’ll find that other members are cheering you on. Rather than expressing jealousy, they’re happy when you sell a piece of art, land a commission, or gain gallery representation.

Encouraging others is part of the responsibility of being in the group.

Compliment your community members on their accomplishments, celebrate their wins, and brag on their work.

Your Turn

Where do you find community for your art and art business?

How do you nurture others in your community?