In a few week's time I'm going to be presenting something with two other artists, something we've been working on together for a few months now which will culminate on 10th April in the opening of the online exhibition shown.
I'll be talking more about the exhibition some other time, for now I'm focusing on the collaboration. As artists working alone in our own little individual studios, squirreled away with our thoughts and processes (and maybe a bit of Spotify or a Podcast) it is very singular, you can get lost in a process or enthusiasm for something or even lost in doubt about your work or where you're heading without people around to bounce ideas off. I am very happy with my own company and would never describe studio life as lonely, but I think without other groups, a tribe, people who are going through the same things, it could feel very isolating.
I have been and remain part of a few organised artist groups over the years, some I've been a founding member of such as Three Peaks Arts or Cumbria Printmakers, some I've joined as they were local to the area and promoted the art and artists. These are great for collaborations on exhibitions, art trails and other events and focus very much on particular geographical areas. I have my art friends, the ones I can text any time (many times a week!) and ask how they are working with the new Instagram algorithms or get an honest, no social media gloss response to questions about sales and galleries. I am part of an international book club, all artists, we read art books, about process or business and meet online to discuss and apply to our own practice. There are private Facebook groups for artists where the actual business side of being an artist is discussed and we help each other out, especially useful with new legislation or which shows are well organised and run type of things. You meet these people in real life and they become your show friends, the ones you expect to see on another stand and go for drinks with next time you're all showing in some unknown city somewhere. All of these things come with time, the longer you spend working as an artist the bigger your support network becomes.
This particular We 3 'Sea' collaboration is working well as we are all pushing each other. We are all part of a paid for membership group called the Connected Artist Club run by Alice Sheridan, one half of the Art Juice Podcast (highly recommended!). We are putting into practice the learning that goes on in the group and each brings different things to the collaboration, from organisation to technical skills, graphic ability with publicity materials, connections, ideas and everything else based around our mutual love of the sea. We will have a Lookbook, something I've often thought I'd wanted to make and put on my own website when I want to promote a new collection, (one of those you flip the pages over online!) but not known how, what to use, how to put it together. We are going live on social media... something I see lots of other peoople do without apparently worrying about but which I have always cringed away from! I'm going to have to be really brave now!! Not only are we going live but we are doing it in a Live Room, which means we are all together talking to each other, again, something I wouldn't have considered before as I wouldn't have trusted myself around the technology.
It's not happened yet, we're still working on it, meeting up on zoom every week to plan and practice the next thing.