The Importance of Community

Illustration may be largely about producing good art, but there are other aspects to the practice that, if neglected, can keep you from being successful. One of these aspects is the people you know. “Networking” is a word used widely in the business world, but it can be just as (if not more) important for artists of all kinds to know how to network. Many of the paying jobs that illustrators, authors, and musicians get are due to the people they know. One saying that may apply here is that it’s not what you know, but who you know that makes a difference in your success.

Another benefit of networking is the community of artists that is created. These are the people that will give you helpful critiques and encouragement, that will support you and help spread the word about what you are doing. These are potential collaborators and possible life-long friends. A group of people who have the same types of goals can be a great force for good.

In our technologically advanced world, it has become increasingly easy to meet new people and get your name out there without having to spend a lot of money on traveling costs or expensive art schools. Here are some easy ways you can network with other artists:

  • Join an online art community. deviantART is a well-known example of this, but there are many alternatives out there.
  • Enroll in an online class that includes student interaction. Two of my favorite artists, Noah Bradley and Chris Oatley, use forums or Facebook groups with their classes to facilitate discussion and peer critiques.
  • Attend symposiums or conventions (like LTUE) and bring business cards that have your contact info. This can be a great way to meet people with similar interests. Make sure to stay in contact!

It doesn’t have to be hard to be part of a community of artists, and the benefits definitely outweigh the bother. Start meeting new people today!