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How to Meet Other Artists – The Importance of Joining an Art Community

Joining an art community is essential when you’re starting out in your creative venture.

The connection that you develop with other creatives is such a powerful bond. Their encouragement is strong enough to deter you from giving up all together when you lack confidence in your work. And watching them work is encouraging enough to give you the confidence to create.

. . .

Shortly after I purchased my first sketchbook at 20 years old, I joined a university drawing club. I still attend the odd meeting despite having graduated in late 2017.

No one in my friend circle was interested in art before becoming a part of this group. In fact, the vast majority of my friends didn’t, and still don’t, have anything that they can really call a hobby (keep in mind that I was in the same boat before drawing stumbled into my life). It made it difficult to share my experience of learning art with them; although, I definitely wasn’t giving them enough credit in assuming that they didn’t care about my frustrations.

I felt like I was on my own. And as an introvert who avoids venturing into the outside world as much as possible, the lone-wolf route has always been my M.O. Self motivation is an incredibly powerful force after all.

However, external encouragement and support takes your growth to a whole nother level.

. . .

If you’re fortunate to have people in your social circle who are interested in art,

or are in the process of taking on a new hobby in general, I suggest that you take advantage of this. Set up weekly coffee hangouts where you each bring your sketchbook and draw at local cafes. If you have friends who want to build a new skill in writing, photo-editing, etc. bring your sketchbook while they work on their laptops. Having people you can grow with is invaluable—your goals don’t necessarily have to relate to the same art form.

. . .

When I first joined my ex-university’s drawing club, I was (and still am) the least experienced in art. I’m surrounded by people who constantly inspire me with their level of expertise. In all honestly, it was somewhat intimidating to start. It took a really long time before I was comfortable with openly drawing in front of the group, rather than using my arm as a shield to protect my sketches from the outside world. In fact, I was finally confident enough in my work to show these club members a controlled viewing of my sketchbook only three weeks ago. Great things take time.

. . .

Some people find an art community in their high school art class, or by choosing a type of fine art as a university elective. If you’re out of school, consider checking out a art/sketch Meetup group. Take a look at public boards at your local library. Ask about the art programs that your community center offers.

For example, my city offers short-term and inexpensive art classes that anyone can sign up for. You can even register for a significant discount if you fall under a low-income category (shout out to my fellow broke-ass artists in the making). Keep your eyes peeled for community-hosted free art sessions as well.

. . .

Even the amount of feedback that I received in this group whenever they managed to sneak a peek at my work was invaluable. I’ve learned so much from seasoned illustrators, that it has kept me going. From small tips to nuggets of gold—I was fed a substantial amount of much-needed advice. Some of which included: how to lay the foundation for a full-body pose, and how important it is to warm up before going into an ambitious illustration.

My contribution? Snacks. Which happened to be equally appreciated for your information.

. . .

Once you find a group, decide how you want your “productive hangouts” to be organized.

Come up with drawing prompts; work towards a group art project; discuss your goals; or simply keep your sketch/work sessions casual. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to surround yourself with creative people when you’re trying to pursue a creative hobby. Even if you’re just meeting once or twice a month, consistency is more important than frequency.

. . .

I would’ve approached art completely differently if not for the drawing group that I’m a part of. In fact, I might not even be practicing art right now without their encouragement and club schedule. It’s funny to think that I joined this community unintentionally. I met the club’s president at the time through pretty silly circumstances after all—but this is a story for another day.

An old friend and I even reconnected through this group. She showed up to a meeting despite attending a different university, and I’m incredibly thankful that she did. School clubs are fairly open to outside members. Some host multiple events throughout the year that are open to the public—so keep an eye out.

In my experience, joining an art community is life changing.

Why? The reason extends far beyond embracing a new hobby when I previously didn’t have anything to be passionate about. It moves far beyond learning new skills and developing my eye for illustration. And far from establishing new habits of practicing art.

The best part about stumbling into this humble art group is that fact that I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet beautiful, talented, and kind-hearted people who are glowing with passion. They have literally changed my life for the better, and I have so much love and respect for them because of it.

A/N: Here are some photos from the Science Behind Pixar exhibit that our drawing club went to a few months ago (Science World, Vancouver):

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