Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eastern US Artist Network

This is a long post about something I have become quite passionate about. Please read it to the end and give me your feedback. I have already posted this as a group on LinkedIn and am talking about it to all the artists that I come into contact with.

Plan:
Create a network of professional artists that has no formal organization or structure. The network will be e-mail-based, depending upon the artists involved to communicate about event opportunities.

Purpose:
By partnering with worthy causes in the Eastern U.S., we should be able to help with conservation efforts of the beautiful country we live in and preserve areas that are important to the artists as well as the causes they support. It would require targeted opportunities/benefits and offer: opportunities for showing work, participation in paint-out style venues, workshop potential, etc. Any of these can be beneficial when partnered with a charity or benefit or conservation effort. Ideas/input will be invited from every artist within the network:
1. Compile an e-mail listing of artists who may be interested in participating in events, leading to publicity, sales and/or name recognition for participating artists. Events would most likely be en plein air on location;
2. Suggest locations or causes in need of publicity in your locale;
3. Personal contacts at magazines, newspapers, web sites, etc.

Further, event proposals would require local artist(s) to arrange help to organize and publicize the event. Fellow artists should offer help when possible or within their area of expertise.

It is understood that events need to be scheduled with enough lead time to allow for planning, advertising and logistics. Networked artists should know that these events require participation, realizing that not everyone can participate in every event.

Whether networked painters participate or not, they will be included in all event notifications until they request to be removed from the list.

For a little explanation of how I came to this idea:
Sitting around with a couple of artists friends – at different times – I had the thought about how we see various names of artists associated with events – mostly out West. Granted, they do have a beautiful landscape that is vast and just lends itself to more of the “green” attitude – saving our environment, hiking, plein air painting, and various outdoor adventures. They have advertisements and notices in the art magazines, listing the event to come, or past participation in an event. They usually have an association with their gallery, maybe a museum, and usually some cause.

We see the same names – maybe in different groupings – but a core group of artists that are making a name for them, along with artists we might not recognize. Up and coming artists, if you will. Sometimes you might only recognize a couple of the names. Next event one of those might be involved with a couple more you recognize, but were not able to participate in the previous event. Over a span of time, you might see many events, and many of the same names. Again, though, they are working hard to participate in these events, working hard on their own work also.

I know they have a wonderful network of friends! Why don’t we do the same here in our part of the Country? But, this is not meant to be exclusive.

Also, I know many of us have our own network of close artist friends and respected fellow artists we have met that are a little more just an acquaintance. We learn of events, shows, paint-outs, etc. from our friends, besides what we read in magazines, and on-line. If we create an e-mail network (or something similar – open to ideas here!) of our own friends, and our friends create an e-mail network of their friends, think of how wonderful and far-reaching a group it would be. We can support each other!

We could partner ourselves with events in our area, and also be knowledgeable about events not in our area that we might participate in. Events would be discovered, analyzed and talked about between the networks of friends. Those closest to the area and able would be instrumental in organizing the event, or finding someone that could. Enlist the help of anyone you think can bring publicity to the event, anyone with experience in organizing the event, etc. You might not know that your friend is a good organizer! You never know who has friends and relatives in organizations, businesses, etc. that have budgets with money set aside for charity and benefits. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

My friends talked about paint outs, exhibition opportunities, auctions, galas – both white tablecloth and barbecue! For instance, I attended a benefit for Alzheimer’s – a day care facility – where they showed many pieces of artwork for “silent auction” and they also had pieces for live auction. The publicity for this event was wonderful because there were many people there and the works sold for a very good price (meaning closer to the value – not bargain basement). The artists either donated, or they could consign the work. It was a wonderful evening. My friends came home with about six different styles of paintings and were very happy to know some of their money was going to a good cause – and they did not just “give” the money.

I have already discussed an event for “Reflection Riding Arboretum” near Chattanooga – for a paint out and benefit to raise the awareness of this property. Some artists will probably visit in spring, 2010 during the wildflower season to evaluate the appropriateness of this event. We will look at difficulty of painting locations, lodging, etc. My contact has already said he talked to the Board and some friends, and someone has already said they would donate money to the event organization. So, all it takes is talking this up, looking for association with something worthy, and then discussing it with your friends and your network too!

Get your gallery involved. Have a museum or art school close by? Ask them to get involved. Plan ways to get the publicity – advertisements in national magazines, local magazines and newspapers, radio stations. Do you know any local television personalities, newscasters, etc.? See if you can involve someone with name recognition.

As said in the one-page document at the beginning – you might not be able to participate in all events, maybe not even many events. But, you should be able to participate at some time. The more you think about this, the more I think you will see the validity in this type of network. It should not consume your time – you should be painting and working on your marketing. But, I think this could be a good addition to your marketing. Let’s up the name recognition of our Eastern artists, and do something good at the same time!

Please feel free to discuss this with your friends and your art organizations. Ask questions and raise issues, etc. We do not want to reinvent the wheel here! Tell me your experiences in attending, organizing, and listening to others who did participate in events such as this. Give us the pros and cons – things we can build upon. Your thoughts are much appreciated!
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