These are my notes from visiting artist Steve Mcleod
As a working artist it’s important to stay connected to groups of different kinds of people.
Engage with the industry – be present and participate in what is going on around you. There is never a right or wrong time to reach out and get involved.
Ways to get involved:
- Membership groups i.e. Metro
- Public art spaces
Look at networking like teamwork – you may be driving towards different things, but you can all help each other along the way. We shouldn’t feel isolated even though our work can be isolating as we are often alone with our thoughts. As artists we need people to input, critique, support, challenge and suggest opportunities, all of these things will help along the way and should be embraced. Look around for people to support you in the ways that you need to progress as an artist.
The Gibbs’ reflective cycle, this is a method which takes you through six stages exploring an experience: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. This can help with reflecting on your practice as well as your performance.
The people who make up your network is a moving wheel, it’s something that is collaborative and free flowing.
All these avenues that provide networking opportunities in the circle should and will be people you will interact with over the course of your career but not at the same time and not in the same way.
Don’t feel like you have to do this all at once, set small goals.
Peers: not friends but people who make similar work or in a similar genre, marketplace and finding your place among them.
Galleries can help with looking at curators, collectors, involving your peers, publishers, museums. Galleries can be a really good champion of your artwork.
Curators will look at social media as one port of call to see who is active and who is doing what, they are also really useful with getting funding as they are often applying for funding and they might take you along with them.
- Look at who is following you – they are following you for a reason.
- Your followers are invested in what you do.
- Identify what your followers do, can you collaborate with them?
- Approach it tactfully and tacitly
- Think about what is your aim and what is it for?
Regularly step back and look at this information.
Identify with your peers, what galleries they are in/have been in. Look at what curators are they working with and find commonality as peers can support you in networking.
Taking an avid interest in my peers, share ideas – incidental learning, look at what others are doing.
Look around and research the people involved; what artwork are they involved with. Look at who the art advocates are at art fairs, who is doing the funding.
Peers are one of the most important areas for networking, don’t be afraid to get involved and join in with the conversation.
Identify skills, transferable skills that you can transfer between your peers (skills that you can give and skills that you can utilize in others).
It takes time to build a network and relationships with people – so start slow.
We are not solely an artist, we have other roles that we need to take on. Artist, advocate, and ambassador, I need to be all of these things at all times, and it is my job to identify what role is needed at any given time.
Artist – the creator, the one that makes the work.
Advocate – the facilitator, the person who makes things happen. The one that does admin, filling out documents, replying to messages, manages the social media account, the engine, the driver of the artist’s work.
Ambassador – the marketer, the person who champions and sells ideas. The role where you sell yourself, have good communication skills, negotiation skills, the one that talks through a portfolio.
This tactic helps as you develop an understanding of your target audience, what you can gain from that target audience and how to implement it.
Identify your target and your audience and your place within the realm of that target to see how you can benefit from this? Where can it take you? And enlisting ambassadors, get other people to do the shouting for you. Have confidence in what you do but also be able to communicate to other people what it is you do, why you do it and get them on board with it.
Manage the voice that you have appropriately, have professional social media accounts, think about yourself as a brand.
Have an Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and include a link tree that takes people to not only your website but your other social media platforms. Have live clickable links.
Think about your profile and get involved.
Have consistency of voice – language – how it looks on all platforms, make sure that what is seen on your website matches the voice on your social media.
Website is a more in-depth dissection into what you do, how you do it and why you do it and the outcome whereas social media has to have same kind of voice, the vocabulary, the way it’s set out, make sure it’s consistent.
The same imagery can be found on both the website and social media. However, on social media you can post the coming together of the work that you wouldn’t see on a website of an exhibition.
If you are struggling – look at how other people do it, take notes.
Make sure you don’t waist peoples time, take things seriously.
If you have a meeting go and go prepared – If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Do your research: Who are they working with? What are they up to? What have they recently done? Understand and value your network and connections.
Be kind to one another if you have skills or advice then help out.
Don’t abuse trust – be professional in all that you do.
Give as well as take, what you give out you will get back in return. So, the more you give and help out the more help and support you will receive. This process isn’t about favors, it’s about the development of process and practice. Make sure you know when to lead and when to be lead.
It is a very fluid industry to work in, people change and the industry changes.
Teamwork = network