8 tips for staying connected

The life of an artist can sometimes be a lonely one - but only if you let it. Monica Davidson of Creative Plus Business details 8 tips for isolated artists to stay connected.

Pablo Picasso said that "Without great solitude no serious work is possible", and while working alone can help artists be more productive and focussed, the danger is isolation. Creativity might flourish in seclusion, but human beings do not. It's important to include getting out and about into your routine to ward off the downsides of artistic aloneness. Happily, venturing into the world can also give you a chance to connect with others and improve your skills, which in turn benefits your work.

Tip 1. Do your research

Get online and find out which groups and organisations exist to help you connect with the artistic outside world. NAVA is one place to do that, and Art Search is another. You can also try Meetup, an online platform that connects people with shared interests.

If the online world is not your forte, your local library or community centre might be a start. Gallery openings and events are also good places to meet other artists. And if you can't find a group of like-minded people in your area, why not start one yourself?



2. Get networking

This word strikes fear into the hearts of many, but it doesn't have to mean swanning about with a bunch of show-offs. Once you've found the groups that might be of interest, go to a gathering and say hello. Introduce yourself, and see what happens. You might be surprised at how friendly people can be. A good approach if you're shy is to focus on listening to others rather than talking about yourself. You'll get a chance to evaluate the people you meet and see if you feel a connection. Bring your business cards or some other way of easily handing over your details to interesting attendees. If you don't meet anyone this time, try again. Two visits to a group are necessary to make a proper judgement of whether or not it's your cup of tea.


3. Get learning

If meeting people through networking is too scary, try learning instead. Conferences, talks, and workshops all provide the chance to meet people, and you can fast-forward your connection because you will share a topic of conversation - the learning. If the 'real world' doesn't offer this chance, then try online learning. NAVA offers a range of courses that will introduce you to like-minded people and help you hone your professional practice.


4. Make it personal

Hopefully, once you've ventured into the world you'll meet people you feel compatible with. A like-minded soul you can talk to is a great way to learn something new and get support. That person might be an 'art buddy' who is on the same level as you, and experiencing the same ups and downs, or a mentor who can offer guidance and support from a more experienced point of view. You may be able to find both! The beauty of the online world is that your connection doesn't need to be in your town, or even your time zone. Skype and Google Hangout at two easy tools for communicating via internet, and they're both free.



5. Use Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, Instagram – they all give you the chance to connect in an online space, and reach out to the whole world. A lot of filtering is necessary in order to stop the inane chatter of social media, but if you learn to use the tools effectively you can choose to see and hear only the people and orgainsations you want to connect with.


6. Leave home

People who work from home are much more likely to be isolated than people who are out and about. If you have a home studio, consider being in another place occasionally. You might work in another studio once a month, or take care of your research at the library, or visit a local café when you want to answer emails. Not all professional activity needs to be done at home, or in the studio.


7. Collaborate

Working with another practitioner can sometimes be an artistic risk, but you might find your creativity is heightened and extended when you collaborate with someone else on a shared project or vision. Even being involved in a group show can help beat isolation and connect you to like-minded people.


8. Being alone is a choice

There are literally thousands of other artists in the world. Some may be in your town, or the next city, or another country entirely. Some will certainly be incompatible with you, but some could be lifelong friends in waiting. Being isolated is a common problem, but you can choose to get out and change. If that also means learning something new, finding friends and strengthening your practice, then the gamble of getting connected is surely worth it.

Monica Davidson started working for herself in the arts when she was a teenager, and is now is a recognised expert in creative industries and artistic entrepreneurship. She writes, runs workshops, mentors individual practitioners, and consults to larger arts organisations about creative business. In 2013 Monica was appointed as the first NSW Creative Industries Business Advisor, and in 2014 was also named as one of the Westpac's 100 Women of Influence. Find out more at http://www.creativeplusbusiness.com