HOW ARTISTS CAN GET INVOLVED WITH THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY, INSPIRE CREATIVITY, AND BUILD CONNECTIONS
Let me paint a mental picture: You’ve spent all week, maybe even all month, preparing for the local art market. The day is finally here after tireless nights of painting, crocheting, sculpting, or whatever your chosen medium is. You’ve packed the car with tables, signage, art pieces, and excessive decor for your booth. Standing out isn’t an option; it's a requirement - you’re an artist, after all. You pull up to the local shop hosting the market and wonder if all this will be worth it for a split second. I’m here to tell you when your community is involved, it is and always will be.
Get Involved with Your Local Community Through Art Markets
No matter how large or small the city you live in, an event or store would likely be happy to host a local artist. Some shops or town halls will organize small artists and vendor markets for the community. On the off chance that there are no events in the near future, don’t lose hope. Gift shops, cafés, and other small businesses usually allow artists to do a pop-up or set up a small table in their store to sell artwork.
Many smaller artists shy away from applying for art markets, fearing rejection or needing to be more experienced. These feelings are valid, but local small-scale art markets are artists' most accepting and supportive environments. Everyone was once exactly where you are – new to the scene and slightly nervous. Most vendors know this and will offer their help, advice, and connections when kindness is involved. Pay it forward by doing the same.
On your way to every market, set an intention to be social and spark conversation with the people around you. Be open to new relationships with local businesses, artists, and community members. What you say and do reflects on your art and can lead you to your next art market, commission, consignment deal, store pop-up, or project.
Get to Know Your Local Small Businesses
Whether you like it or not, you, too, are a small business owner – talking to other people in similar situations can be pivotal for your art. Spend time at local coffee shops, gift stores, restaurants, or bakeries. Talk to the owners and employees, get to know the locals, and watch your concept of a community grow.
Some of the biggest opportunities come not for the sake of art but for the enjoyment of building relationships with people in the community. By constructing consistent and genuine interactions, you can ask questions about new projects or consignment opportunities for your art.
A Bit About In-Store Consignment
All small businesses do consignment differently. For those new to the subject, consignment is simply displaying your art within another business in a mutually beneficial way for both parties. Some may request a 40/60 deal where the business receives 60 percent of the sale, and the artist gets 40 percent. Others are more generous and simply charge a rent fee or take a smaller percentage of each sale. At the end of the day, not matter how excited you may be, making sure the expense is worth the cost of your product and your time is always in your best interest.
Donate or Volunteer Time in Community Efforts
Community gardens are becoming increasingly popular everywhere (finally!). These are just one way to offer your time and talents to the community. Offer to paint a fence post or a mural. If painting isn't an option, get crafty and find unique ways to contribute. At the very least, volunteering your time will always leave a positive mark.
Attend Events Outside of Your Medium
I recently found myself at an open mic night at a local coffee shop named ROOTS: Plants and Coffee. Although I intended to go simply for pleasure, I ended up networking with artists, writers, and business owners in my community. I also left full of inspiration for my own craft.
Take some time to scout out community events where networking and sharing your artwork with others is appropriate. Your community may not have an open mic night, but surely there are other types of events to feed the soul.
If you’re in a smaller town like me, finding the hidden gems may take some change in perspective. If I can find them in deep south Louisiana, you certainly can too.