One important aspect of being an artist is networking. While a majority of my time is spent alone making work, it’s important to get out and connect with fellow creatives and members of the community at large. Networking should be a two way street, an exchange of ideas, resources, contacts and information.
One person I’ve been networking with lately is Amy Paul. She’s a San Diego artist, business woman, educator and new mom, and not necessarily in that order. We’ve known each other for a couple of years and she’s been a great person to talk with about a variety of topics and I am confident that our relationship will continue to develop. She’s a “doer,” not a “talk about doing” person, which I love. She contacted me recently for advice on how to get her work seen beyond San Diego. Turns out she and I have opposite issues: she’s trying to get her work seen outside San Diego and I can’t get anyone in San Diego to pay much attention to my work. So we traded some contacts, talked about pricing issues, and mentioned where we might like to see our careers expand.
Amy’s in a unique position for today’s economy in my mind – she has a ton of work. She runs a great store on 30th Street in North Park called Pigment. I love going in the store – it’s always evolving. Everytime I show up Amy’s got a new display up and I sense everything is fresh and new, like I’m seeing it before anyone else. She sells everything from accessories to planted walls, all available for purchase online, hint hint. She also paints and provide limited edition prints of her work in the store. A line of baby items are new, reflecting her new role as a mom. She also teaches at two local community colleges, so to say that she is busy is an understatement. If you make a trip to the store, have a meal at Urban Solace next door, you won’t regret it.
In our conversation, I mentioned that my husband David and I are going to launch a line of artist panels. We’ll start out making flat panels, reasonably priced for artists to use for mixed media, encaustic, collage and painting. Many of my friends, colleagues and students have admired what David does for me – my panels, crates, and framing are something that they all ask me if he’d do it for them too, thus the birth of our new venture. Stay tuned for more on this, but it so happens that Amy is looking to buy panels. Her partner and husband Chad is busy with lots of other things, and while he can cut panels for her, she’d rather have someone make them so that he can turn his attention elsewhere. It was another signal to me that there is a demand for panels, just like I thought. It was valuable input for me and a possible customer before we even launch.
This real life situation is a perfect example of networking at it best. I encourage you to think about two-three people in your circle that you can have this kind of exchange with. I know, we all have lots of things to do. But this kind of exchange can open doors, windows and minds. It can be a win win, and who doesn’t love that?