Dysfunctional v. Healthy Artist Organizations

Elephant painting by Karen Friedland

I’ve been encouraging artists to join artist organizations for my entire career, but the truth is that not all organizations are created equal.

And before you go thinking that you should start your own, let me say this: the world does not need more artist organizations. The world needs better artist organizations – organizations with powerful visions and commitment to serving their artists.

To be clear, I’m not talking about organizations for hobbyists. Those serve a separate and noble purpose, which is fodder for another article.

When you are trying to earn money from your art … when you aim for professional status … you need a higher level of support.

I think this is why Art Biz Coach has been so successful – because we fill a void. We support artists in classes like Magnetic You (starting soon!) and the Art Biz Inner Circle.

Healthy organizations aren’t my competition. We’re all here to elevate the status of artists while helping you lead healthy, productive lives. We’re stronger together.

With that said, here are some thoughts that might help you decide whether or not an organization is right for you.

Profile of a Healthy Artist Organization

Structure & Leadership

The organization has written guidelines, policies, and procedures – and follows them. You know know what is expected of you and what you can expect from the organization.

The organization plays a valuable role within the larger art community. In other words, it’s not an island operating by itself.


Meetings are

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The Strength of Artists as a Community

©Gail Haile, Setting Sun Mandala. Photo collage. Used with permission.

I struggle for ways to acknowledge this solemn anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Should I ignore the date on my calendar, or try to write something profoundly moving?

©Gail Haile, Setting Sun Mandala. Photo collage. Used with permission.

Usually I ignore the date in my emails and on my blog, which seems more appropriate for my audience. This year I had an idea to use this space to focus on one of my top values and priorities: community.

Community is a value I absorbed from my mother and is something we cherished following September 11, 2001.

The Strength of Artists as a Community

I am inspired by a quote from Christy MacLear, Executive Director of The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. In a 2012 article in The New York Times, MacLear said of Rauschenberg:

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Do This At Your Next Artist Meeting

Do you go to artist meetings and stick with your usual crowd? Do you attend meetings to hear the speaker and leave without connecting with other members? Two weeks ago my team received an urgent email from Ramon Magee from the Summit Art organization in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He said his speaker for the evening had cancelled and they needed a program.

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How Will you Celebrate International Artist Day?

International Artist Day

A grassroots movement has proclaimed October 25 (Picasso’s birthday) to be International Artist Day. Why should this day be reserved for artists? Or should it? Is it important? Why or why not? What does it mean to have an International Artist Day? What should it mean?

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5 Reasons to Join and Be Active in an Artist Organization

Except for the few artists who have reached the level of success that enables requires help from assistants to keep up with the demand for their work, we artists are a lonely bunch. Solitude is good for creativity, but only up to a point. Community, education, critique, support, and inspiration are good for our work and our psyches.

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Artist Salons: 6 elements for a thriving group, part 2

The final three elements you need for a thriving artist salon are Location, Regularity, and Conversation. Check out this post for details and guidelines for all three (and a link to the first three).

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The first 4 steps toward selling your art: Step #3

Being around other artists builds your confidence and sustains you emotionally. In addition, you will hear about opportunities you never knew existed if you hadn’t been part of a group. You’ll hear about them before they are ever published! Read more about why you should connect with other artist–especially at the beginning of your career–and how to do it.

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