I think clubs are great. Not the dancing, loud music kind (though those are awesome! Who doesn’t love dancing??), but the ones where like-minded individuals who have similar interests get together and bond. This doesn’t mean that you all think exactly the same things and execute your artwork in the same way. It could be something as simple as you are all writers or sculptors; or it could be nothing at all except your desire to share a space. Whatever has brought you together has the potential to be a great partnership.
The Rise of the Collective…Again.
Over the past few years there has been a steadily growing trend of artist collectives and cooperatives for various reasons. Artists coming together and forming communities is nothing new though.
Sometimes ‘more’ is just ‘more’, but in the case of artists combining their assets, so to speak, ‘more’ can definitely beneficial.
The More We Get Together…
Not all cliques are bad. Artists get together to share studio space, do collaborative projects and performances, panel discussions, and create educational programming. All events and situations can go just a little bit smoother when working ensemble. When we as artists come together we can exchange ideas, be inspired by one another and have the opportunity to create so much more.
Throughout history artists have also come together as a response to being excluded from the more mainstream and conventional fine art circles.
A few examples: The Eight was a group of artists (mostly) associated with the Ashcan School; The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers etc. organized a showing of art that eventually became the Impressionist Movement. Afri-Cobra was an artist collective that came about as a response to the turbulent and revolutionary 1960s and 1970s. They were a group of artists bound together by their political and social commentaries. See? As groups and collectives these artists ended up being much stronger initially than going solo.
Here Come the Cons…(the Opposite of Pros, That Is)
As the universe would have it there is a yin to every yang. There must be an opposite and opposing force. So just as getting your own art crew together may have its benefits there are also possible side effects or crappy circumstances that develop. Sometimes we are absolutely oblivious. So here’s are a few hints that your once super and supportive art crew has gone art cruel:
When Your Art Buddies Have Gone Bonkers.
1. When You Are No Longer Allowed to Be an Individual. Just because you are a part of a group it doesn’t mean you are supposed to do exactly the same thing as the artist next to you does. If you are being pressured to copy someone else’s style or technique. You aren’t being allowed to develop organically as an artist. No chemical fertilizers necessary ;)
2. When Other Artists Spend More Time Bad-Mouthing Other Artists Instead of Producing Work. High school and various non.elective work situations are toxic enough! Why would you choose to subject yourself to negative gossip fests about other people who are more than likely…wait for it…working!? Plus talking bad about other folks makes you feel yucky inside. We don’t want yucky insides do we?
3. Is This an Episode of “The Young and the Artless”? If there is drama in your workspace or every time you and your crew get together this could be a drain. When you are drained you aren’t focused. When you aren’t focused you don’t do your work. When you don’t do your work you aren’t happy. When you aren’t happy you make other people miserable. Don’t make other people miserable.
4. You Feel Less Creative. Who wants to be a part of an art group that makes them feel less like creating new work? Working with others has the potential to infuse new energy into your work and career, especially if you’ve only worked solo. So if you no longer want to make anything or do anything while associated with your group, maybe you should rethink the group thing.
5. When Being Apart of the Group Yields More Negatives Than Positives. This art collective/cooperative thing should be good for you. It should be a positive thing to say the least. If dues or rent have become a strain, you are pulled into secrets and intrigue (Who really wants to live in a Clancy novel? Read yes. Live no.), or if you are plain old unhappy, let it go.
Here I Go Again On My Own.
All of this talk about groups making you feel lonely? No need. If you work best on your own there’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of us artist types love to go off and do our own thing and that’s great. Just keep in mind there’s a whole other world of collaboration out there. You just have to know when it works for you and when it doesn’t.
I’d love to hear what you think. Are you a part of an art crew? How do you feel about it?
Encourage someone else to ‘get reincarnated’! If you liked what I wrote feel free to pass it on. Thanks for reading.