How to Start an Artist Salon

Guest blogger Judith HeartSong shares how an art community is built – and her idea to help you start your own.


Salon An Artful Conversation


Salon – an Artful Conversation is a monthly meeting of artists, writers, and arts professionals. We come together to bond, network, and get out of our heads for a little while. It is a conversation, a support group, and sometimes a counseling session. But it is always a networking extravaganza. Salon is an experimental lab for new ideas, and a place to learn and grow by leaps and bounds as an artist and professional.

I founded salon years ago in my artist studio in the town of Glen Echo, Maryland. For several years before that I had considered the landscape of the DC art world. It had many small but separate artist communities. There was a need to bring them together.

Community-building was needed. I had a history as the membership chair for the Central Florida chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art. And I’ve been an organizer of community art shows and events. With PR expertise built over a long and successful art career, I knew that community-building was something I had a good working knowledge of and expertise to share.

I started doing research of artist discussion groups around the country online. I took lots of notes and talked to lots of people. Some common threads started to emerge in what people were doing and what was working. I got excited about the prospects of putting a group like this together. I then brainstormed with a lot of friends and supporters to hash out some specifics before going any farther with this idea. That process took months.

When it was time to take the idea public, I created a survey and asked artists friends what they were interested in. I wanted to know what would bring them out of their studios and homes on a weeknight to attend a discussion group.  It turned out these painters, photographers, jewelers, pastel artists, ceramicists, sculptors, fiber artists, mixed media artists, poets, writers, performance artists, designers, and more, all wanted COMMUNITY!!

So, Salon – an artful conversation is . . . a conversation. It is always free to the public. It’s held on weeknights, or during the work day in a studio center. It can be brunch on a Saturday or a free-flowing talk about what is going on in the studio Sometimes it is an informal critique group, or an organized discussion with a presenter. It can be people of like profession, or a wide-ranging group of people with different practices and backgrounds.

With this long running proven business model, I decided it was time to share the formula for creating your own salon discussion group where you live. I created the Salon Starter Kit for artists all around the country who also have a dream of creating bonds and building community where they live. This 27-page kit gives you every bit of information that you need to start your own successful group with your artist colleagues in your own community.


Along with your kit you receive our PR expertise when you have questions, as well as a listing of your monthly events on our website and advertising on our Facebook and Twitter pages. As the Salon brand grows, imagine an artist living in Portland who is traveling to New Mexico on a painting holiday. That artist can reference our site and see where the closest Salon discussion group is meeting, and can attend and meet a whole host of new artists.

Some of the helpful information you’ll receive includes: choosing salon topics, finding great speakers, choosing a venue, food and drink, knowing your audience, social media and Salon, and the Salon checklist.


Judith HeartSongJudith HeartSong is an artist and the founder and Executive Director of Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville, Maryland. She brings decades of experience as an arts administrator, art consultant and mentor to her position. Judith founded “Salon: An Artful Conversation” to bring together artists of all types to build a supportive creative community.



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  1. Thank you Artsy Shark!

  2. Vicky Hattori says

    I’m interested in getting an art center started in my town. I’m wondering if you can give me any pointers.

    • Vicky, thanks for your question. One thing I’ve noticed is that the art community is very generous, and you can most likely approach art centers from other towns for their input on what may work for you. Contact state art organizations that fund smaller art centers and organizations. They could be a good source of information as well.

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