One key personality trait that is shared by many artists is an independent nature. Being human, however (in addition to being artists) means that we are also biologically programmed to benefit from at least occasional social interaction. Just by connecting with others, your brain gets a little boost of serotonin—one of the chemicals in our bodies that contributes to a sense of well-being.
So if you’ve been spending too many hours isolated in the studio, here are 4 quick ways to put yourself in touch with others who share your artistic interests:
There are many available communities for artists online, from print-on-demand websites that sell your work (such as Redbubble) to artist forums set up to provide artists with advice and conversation (such as Wet Canvas).
You might not get the full benefit of face-to-face interaction with these artists, but sometimes the option of posting a work-in-progress for a quick critique or browsing a fellow artist’s portfolio can give you a little mental boost, which will always benefit your work in the short term.
2. Seek out local art associations
Don’t forget your fellow local artists! Joining a local art association gives you a chance to hear firsthand about art opportunities, which should motivate you to get your work out there to share with others.
Many art associations provide regular meetings and workshops, during which you can participate in critiques or enjoy in-person conversation with other artists. Even if your participation is limited, the interaction you’ll get out of it can serve as a reminder that you’re not the only artist in your area—there are other artists around who share your interests, and your local art association provides a unique opportunity to get in touch with them should you desire a little support or social interaction.
3. Show at local markets and festivals
Lugging your art to a local farmer’s market or regional art festival might sound like a big undertaking for a little interaction. However, this is my favorite way to make quick connections with art-minded people.
Your work is on display, so you’re going to get plenty of feedback. There will be other artists or art-minded people attending, so you get to meet some new contacts and get a fresh perspective on your work. And, while I might feel a little mentally drained after a day of interacting with people stopping by to browse my work, I also feel renewed creatively. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so daunting to get back to work, as I have a sense that somewhere, someone is going to connect with what I do!
I find that many of the people who stop in want to discuss their own creativity as well, which gives me some interaction that I definitely don’t get at home painting in the middle of the night.
4. Paint in public (or put on a workshop)
Perhaps you don’t particularly want to display your work for sale, but you’d like to have some artistic interaction with others outside your own working space. Demonstrating your skills to an audience is a great opportunity to have interaction with others without the added pressure of trying to sell your work.
If you’re comfortable painting en plein air, set yourself up in an area with a little foot traffic and get to work. Many people will come up and watch quietly, but you’ll likely get at least a few who want to talk. Take a little break and chat with some of these people—some of my most interesting conversations were with people who wandered up to talk as I was painting (I’ll admit there are times when this can be annoying, so I choose my location carefully depending on how much interaction I’m ready for).
Teaching art on a volunteer basis or offering to paint at your local community center or nursing home can also be a great way to get out of your inner artist world and interact with others. If it’s a struggle to venture out of your studio, consider setting some time and money aside to rent a studio in a community space for a set amount of time. You’ll be physically in the company of other artists as you work, so all you’ll have to do is show up and paint for the conversations to begin.
I realize it’s easy to fall into the routine of working alone, and depending solely on yourself for ideas and feedback. But don’t forget to take a little time to go outside your comfort zone and connect on occasion with others. Your brain (arguably your most important artist’s tool) will thank you!