The first 4 steps toward selling your art: Step #3

I’m on a roll now! I’m writing about the first four things you should do when you want to sell your art. They’re not necessarily steps in the sense that one comes after another. Think of them as things that you need to cross of your list before you can do anything else.

Step #3: Connect with other artists

(The following text is adapted from I’d Rather Be in the Studio!)

Many artists do not have sideline cheerleaders in the form of friends or family. Some people just don’t get us! If you’re in this predicament, you must seek or establish your own cheering squad. Without some kind of support system, you will find yourself beaten down and constantly on the defensive. Sometimes you can obtain such support by getting involved in existing artist organizations. If you aren’t familiar with one in your area, contact your local or state arts council, which you can find in the resources of the National Assembly of State Art Agencies. You can also check out the National Association of Artists’ Organizations.

Being around other artists builds your confidence and sustains you emotionally. In addition, you will hear about opportunities you never knew existed if you hadn’t been part of a group. You’ll hear about them before they are ever published! You will also be eligible to apply for grants, awards, and exhibitions sponsored by the organization; be introduced to new art products and materials; and receive business advice in many areas (software, accounting, taxes, copyright, and more). Most importantly, with the right organization, you’ll make contacts that lead to the next step on your career path. As you are learning, contacts play a seminal role in your success.

John McCaskill, . 26 x 38 inches. ©The Artist
John McCaskill, Flight of the Hummingbird. Monotype, linoleum, and woodcut, 26 x 38 inches. ©The Artist

Before you join an organization, make sure it’s a good fit for you. Don’t join just for the sake of joining, which can end up being a waste of time and money. Attend meetings as a guest and consider where you might fit in. Before you join an organization, you should do research. (A complete checklist of questions to ask is in the book, page 163-64.)

You aren’t joining just to be a member. You are joining to become involved. If you’re uncomfortable in an organization, you won’t reap the benefits of your membership. If you can’t find the right fit in an existing organization, bring together a group of artists who meet regularly for the purpose of supporting each other. Form your own artist salon for more structure.

Perhaps becoming a member of an artist organization that meets regularly in your city is not for you or isn’t enough for you. You might consider “joining” a community on a part-time basis in a distant locale. You can escape once or twice a year to be around like-minded artists in artist communities, sometimes called “colonies.” Some people think of spending time at art colonies as vacations, but they are working vacations. You attend to be inspired and to learn from your peers. Another take on “getting away” is participating in an artist residency with an organization or at a venue. Learn about these opportunities in art magazines, discussion groups, and online lists.

The more you’re connected with other artists, the more opportunities you’ll discover.

See the other 3 steps:

Step #1: Devote Yourself to a Studio Practice
Step #2: Create Your Mailing List
Step #4: Start Writing About Your Art

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17 thoughts on “The first 4 steps toward selling your art: Step #3”

  1. Becoming a member of a group can be a great confidence booster if you are feeling low…Sometimes you can’t find Mr. Right, but Mr. Right-Now can be temporarily helpful too…I joined a totally inappropriate group of older lady hobby painters for a little while, & even though we were on different paths, it was very nurturing to be with these grandmothers…Not every group is a perfect fit, but sometimes it’s just a temporary stop on your road…

  2. Connecting with other artists is my favorite aspect of the business. It helps keep me sharp and its fun. There was no group in my area so me and a friend started one. We don’t have a web presence yet so no link here but we are the Uriel Collaborative.

  3. This is actually in reference to your post about Step #2. I recognize that my mailing list is my #1 asset. And I still haven’t found a software program for it! My email list is on my hotmail account–sending out an email notice is a lot of work & I don’t have a lot of design options. I am thinking about going to Constant Connect for my email list. And I have close to 800 people on a snail mail list that is on my word program–another big pain. I wanted a simple email program & signed up for something called Personal Mail (I think) & it turned out to be more hassle than what I was already doing. The systems recommended are more inventory systems than mailing lists, and I just don’t need that much software (and complexity!). Do you (or anyone else) have any recommendations for a mailing list? I am very frustrated with what I have been doing. Thanks!

  4. I think this is great way to network. I am in the process of joining as many societies and associations as possible and I’ll evaluate them using your list. I’ll then renew with the ones that fit best.

    PS: I went to the National Association of Artists’ Organizations link and the url is no longer live.

  5. Christine, check out for an affordable solution to email lists. I used to use them when I had an ezine for another biz. Once I get my art biz up and running, I think I’ll get back to it.

  6. Sari: Thanks for that reminder. It might not be the perfect fit right away. As long as you’re willing to embrace the moment, go with the flow.

    Christine: It sounds like you need two different things: 1) a place to store your email addresses (there’s a link to a list for databases in Step #2 post) and 2) A way to send out the emails. Is that right?

    Zachary & JT: It’s clear you are benefiting from your connections. JT, I’ll check out that link right away.

    Alyice: I’m not an user, but I think it’s a lot like my shopping cart/autoresponder system. Isn’t there a monthly fee? Monthly fees aren’t bad. They might propel you to action. “Hey, I’m paying for it . . . might as well use it!”

  7. Alyice:
    Thanks for the tip–I will check into aweber!

    I need an email system AND a snail mail system. I will check out that link for the databases. Thanks!

  8. Another great way to network and develop skills is to attend art-related workshops, locally or another town/city. And those can be about art itself or art business, like the workshops you offer, Alyson.

  9. Connecting with other artists is my favorite thing to do besides making art. It is so much fun. I love to write about other artists on my blog which gives me a way to show them how much I love what they are doing. It also creates a friendly place to be, which is what I am looking for in a community.

    The statement “Some people just don’t get us!” could not have been more right on. So I am building my own community through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Ning. The artists that I connect with will not think twice when I make a statement like “spent 5 hours painting” or “just picked up some great items – now to cover them in beeswax!”

    As for communities outside of the virtual world, these are little bit harder for me to maintain. I haven’t yet found an organization that fit exactly with my goals and drives. I am still looking, still joining, and still trying to interact but it can be discouraging when my style doesn’t match with the others around me.

    Anyway, thanks for another great tip! I am loving these and cannot wait to see number four!

    Jaime Lyerly

  10. Hi Alyson. Great looking blog site so far. Thanks for the information . I am sending links to all my oil pastel students so they can begin to understand the importance of organizing and creating an inventory of their work. Your sites are so user friendly and they continue to provide the support when they are ready to use it. Just wanted to say hello. I’m out here, working too much at The Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg and still teaching oil pastel at The Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, IL. It’s great to be able to pass on your website/blog/classes/books etc to those that are ready to think about the business of art. Hope all is well. Carol Zack.

  11. Rosemary: Yes, of course. Thanks for the reminder.

    Jaime: You sound like you’re doing okay. The face-to-face thing will come when it’s time.

    Carol: Glad you approve! And thank you so much for referring my site–especially to students.

  12. Hi Alyson
    You are absolutely correct about connecting with other artists. I never thought that TWITTER would be helpful, or an opportunity to be around other artists. I was wrong. I’ve met incredible artists, started with one, then another followed me, and I followed another.

    I now have a community of artist friends who I communicate with all over this world. I no longer feel isolated in my small city. These artists are available daily to encourage and share and from them I’ve learned of so many opportunities.


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