By far, the most popular post ever written on the Tuxedo Revolt Blog was my post about creating a larger sense of community in the arts. I wrote that post in the hope that It would inspire others to reach out and expand their own artistic circles. At the time, I didn’t know how people would react– if they would take notice. The day after I posted the article, I woke up to the reality that the post had gone viral with hundreds views in just hours. It turns out that artists crave community more than I had thought– and that is a great thing indeed.
Knowing that we want to get to know other artists isn’t enough. As with any concept, an action is required to bring ideas into reality. We have to do something, reach out, collaborate, discuss, listen and learn from each other. So how do you do that? Well, there are a few options I’d like to share with you that can help you start reaching out to other artists, specifically those in other disciplines. You should start by doing what feels natural to you.
Abandon your stereotypes of artists in other disciplines. The reality is that we all share more traits in common than what you might think. Though it may be surprising, the creative process and the act of honing the skills necessary to bring creative ideas to life are very similar across art forms. In fact, these shared traits can be a great point of entry for you to begin a conversation.
If you want to meet other artists, try your hand at their art form. Yes, that’s right. Try your hand at something you’ve never done before. I’ve learned so much about how to be more expressive in my own music making by taking watercolor classes, attending voice master classes, and acting in plays. What better way to meet other creative people than to meet them in their element? It can be an inspiring process to watch other people make art and create.
Be still and listen. While much of what we do as artists is promoting or advocating for our art, remember, “to everything there is a season”. When you do make a connection with another artist, encourage them to talk about themselves, what makes them tick, what drives them to create? Seize the opportunity to listen and learn. Great collaborations are built on a foundation of mutual respect. Show others that you respect their art, their work, and their passion by emptying your mind and listening to them completely.
Be a matchmaker. While you don’t have to wear a kerchief on your head (thou you may want to…) like in Fiddler on the Roof, you too can help put creative people together. I find that introducing like minded colleagues to each other bring am me a lot of happiness, and it can to you as well. If you know a poet who wants to have their work out in the public and you happen to know a composer who is interested in writing a set of songs for soprano and harp, introduce the two people– get the idea? Sometimes, people need the connection to someone else and you could actually be the link that helps truly creative work begin. It is also rewarding process because others can begin to connect you in a likewise manner. Your network and creative community will grow.
Be yourself, and not an artiste. Remind yourself why you are reaching out to other artists to begin with: you are trying to create the right conditions for creative collaborations to flourish. No matter what your project end-goal may be, the success of your efforts will depend on how in sync you are with your creative colleagues. That’s why it is so crucial that you are yourself when you meet other artists. Remember, it doesn’t matter whether you are a singer, instrumentalist, writer, actor, or dancer– you are unique among all others in your field. You are what you are, just as the art you create is whatever it is at the moment you have created it. Let people see the real you. Then, those who collaborate with you will know exactly who they are working with and authentic work can begin.
I hope that you will take one or all of these steps to expand and build your community of artists this year. Be bold, and step outside of any walls that might hold you back. There’s so much out there that we can do if we work together, the combinations are endless.