The Power of Your Network

by Carolyn Edlund

For artists in business, building relationships can be the difference between merely surviving and thriving.



The art world is a place where relationships and connections play a pivotal role. In many ways, it’s who you know that will determine your success.

This reality was the focus of a paper published in 2018 written about a study done pursuant to a MoMA museum show titled Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925. The study, detailed in an article published on Artsy, looked at renowned artists from around the world, and examined their level of creativity and their social network. They concluded that there is no link between creativity and fame. Instead, they determined that “artists with a large and diverse network of contacts were most likely to be famous, regardless of how creative their art was.”

Wow. So talent and ability aren’t the biggest factors that contribute to being recognized as an artist. Instead, it’s about getting to know people of all types, for the purpose of becoming known and well-connected, in service of your career. But knowing that, it’s something that any of us can pursue, through networking.

When you have a plan and implement it on a consistent basis, it’s easier to develop important relationships. But where do you begin?

Networking opportunities are everywhere, both online and offline. Start by immersing yourself in the art community. Plan to attend exhibitions, gallery openings, museum shows, and networking events to meet fellow artists, collectors, curators, and art industry professionals. Join online forums, social media groups, and artist communities to engage in discussions, share your work, and connect with like-minded individuals from around the world.

However, simply making initial contact is not enough. Building meaningful relationships requires consistent effort and follow-through. Following up with individuals you’ve met is key to nurturing these connections and turning them into valuable partnerships. Send a personalized email or handwritten note expressing your appreciation for the conversation and suggesting ways to stay in touch. Offer to collaborate on projects. Attend future events together, or simply grab a coffee to discuss shared interests and opportunities for mutual growth.

Strategic relationship-building is about more than just expanding your network. It’s about cultivating deep, meaningful connections that can help propel your career forward. Identify key players in the art world who align with your artistic vision and goals. Then invest time and energy in building relationships with them, because strategic relationships can open doors to new opportunities. They can increase your visibility as an artist, elevate your status and lead to more introductions which may be advantageous.

The benefits of networking and relationship-building extend far beyond mere career advancement. Beyond opening doors to exhibition opportunities, sales, and collaborations, strong relationships can provide invaluable support, mentorship, and camaraderie. Your connections can offer feedback, guidance, and encouragement during times of doubt or uncertainty. They can celebrate your successes as you achieve your dreams.

A strong network and resulting relationships are essential components of success in the art business. By recognizing the power of connections and actively investing in relationship-building efforts, artists can unlock a world of opportunities.



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