Marketing Mondays: Staying Connected

In last week's MM post, Own Your Space, I talked about the various options for buying. Many artists responded with their own stories of properties bought or built. One artist responded with this question:

The financial benefits of working at home are inarguable, but how can I overcome the social and creative hurdles of working in isolation?

Sometimes if feels as if you can't win. When you spend all your income-producing hours earning enough to pay the studio rent, you don't get much studio-visit time. And when you have a more affordable setup in an out-of-the-way place, no one makes the trip out.

I can suggest a few bricks-and-mortar options
. Regular visits to the gallery cities near you (an anonymous Philadelphia artist commenting in the same post says s/he takes the Bolt Bus up to Manhattan once a month)
. Get to the openings, where everyone is more social
. Visit open studios in your area
. Form a crit group with other artists, or even a reading group, to maintain contact with your peers. If you can't use your home when it's your turn to host, come up with an inventive solution: a room in the local library, art center or college, perhaps. Or volunteer to be the event organizer in lieu of meeting in your space
. Consider a short term rental when you need to show work to dealer or curator. Or rent/barter the use of a friend's in-town studio (could you trade artwork or a service?)

Cyberspace offers greater specificity and geographic diversity
. Maintain a blog, or comment regularly on several. You can do this from anywhere, yet the community can be rewarding
. The Facebook community is large. If you don't let it take over your life, it's both fun and useful
. In particular, Facebook groups allow people with particular interests to "meet" regularly. The group can be open--which means that anyone can read the comments, "listening in" as if the meeting were in a public park; or closed, which means it's more like getting together in someone's living room or studio. In both instances, artists are from dozens of  locations. I belong to groups in both categories, and I find that the friendships, exchange of ideas and personal support have become important the busier I become and the more isolated my work sometimes makes me. Start a group and invite people to join it.
Readers: How do you stay Connected?


Roberta said...

I have the ever elusive second bedroom for my studio. So I am quite isolated. Although I like working in isolation. But to stay connected I have a blog which I post on about once a week and I follow other blogs as well as following a large Facebook community of like minded artists. I have met some very interesting individuals who work in the same medium as I do (polymer clay). And some who work in fabrics, paint etc. An interesting mix to say the least.
Although care must be taken not to let the internet interfere with creative time.

annell said...

I live at the end of world, high mountain desert community. I am a hermit. At 52 decided I needed the isolation to "find myself and My Work." The work does take most of my time. I try to stay connected through my blog. It seems there just isn't enough time.

susan said...

I have a home studio in the suburbs of Seattle and have followed your advice. It's a trade off, and driving into the city a few times a month is the price I pay for all of the benefits of working at home. I am an extrovert which makes it hard to work at home, but easy to meet people at art walks, openings, etc. I have followed up by asking some of these new found friends to meet for coffee or dinner and deeper conversation. This has really worked well, as the one-on-one conversations lead to real friendships, which have led to co-curating gigs and great networking opportunities. Be proactive, and it can work.

Anonymous said...

Since 1974, I have always carved out a space to use as my studio. Being a social person, I would never get any work done if I were in a shared space. Renting additional space has always been out of the question..I just don't make enough money to do that. As for the isolation - I make a point of going to openings. Inviting other artists for studio visits and visiting other artists is a terrific way to exchange ideas and work ethics. In the past several years, Facebook has become an extraordinary tool that facilitates exchanges of ideas and work worldwide. Being able to walk into my studio without having to go anywhere is one of my life's greatest pleasures. Anytime day or night, I can and do work.

Fanne Fernow said...

I have my studio in a complex. There are 30 some artists spread out over four buildings. I've been in the complex for 12 years now. It seems to be a perfect solution to the isolation problem. Some of my dearest friendships have grown out of that space. I can go in my studio and close the door or leave it open to signal that a drop-in would be ok. Or, I can hang out in common spaces?

Lately, I've been totally shut up in there, to the point where if I worked at home people would be making welfare checks on me! In my studio, people know that I am just in a heavy duty work mode and safe.

For me, there is something really important about making a financial commitment to having a studio. It keeps me in a mindset that I am, indeed, a professional artist - even when I am not selling a ton of work.

Also, having a studio away from home keeps me from the distractions of laundry, television, etc.

Binnie said...

Staying connected is the result of getting connected.One good thing has built upon another, as I've set out over the past dozen or so years to build my professional artist life. Up until a couple of months ago, my studio had always been in my home. I'm now in and old factory where there are other artists, huge adjustment for me with less comfort and privacy, but other artists around. My artist friends are all people I've met by being involved..attending The Encaustic Conference, participating in Monothon at Center for Contmeporary Printmaking, and attending openings. Facebook is my way of keeping track of what all my artist friends are doing, as well as being involved in both closed and open groups. Everything you've said is real and practical advice Joanne. Thanks.

Rene Lynch said...

I recently moved out of a spare bedroom studio into a space at our local industrial/artsy park. Although I am alone most days I am there, I do get some interaction with my neighbors. I like having a 'real' place to show my work and I like having to make the effort to get there. It makes everything more official if I tell a prospective client, "meet me at my studio downtown so you can see the work you are interested in".

Eva said...

I think you should schedule art parties, the openings, whatever you can get to and have it be a part of your work. It's not really just "social life." It is your work. So now that my studio has moved to the country, I know I will be going into town every week, just for that purpose.

Allen C. Smith said...

Hi Joanne.

Well... this is one way of staying connected - enjoying a welcoming blog, like yours, and periodically posting a remark.

We live in a small city in upstate New York. We're close enough to metro areas that we can visit them in a few hours, far enough away so that we can afford to live with ease.

I have always attempted to stay at the center of my regional art world by acquainting myself with all of the players and maintaining professional friendships. For true connectedness, a close artist friend and I began meeting for coffee once a week. We invited one friend, then another and another and so on. At its largest, there were 13 people at the table. A dangerous number. A decade of attrition has trimmed weekly attendance to six to eight.

It's understood that our discussions revolve around the fine arts, but sometimes gossip and politics raise their ugly heads. Field trips occur. Members share timely articles, books, etc.

We still try to make the gallery/museum events in our region. Gotta keep your face in the crowd. But our weekly "Art Cafe" has become an essential part of our lives.

Thanks again for your valuable contributions and time. Sincerely.

Adria said...

My studio is at home in my basement, so I am alone most of the day. I really need to be with people so I teach. I am also part of an artist-run gallery and a women artist's coaching group. These two communities, teaching, and FB keep me feeling connected and keep me going.