It’s tempting isn’t it?
To believe we can achieve all the connections we need for our creative business by staying at home plugged into social media.
But, in fact, when we create space for face-to-face connection to occur, we we massively improve the chances for developing a meaningful and fulfilling career or business.
Lessons on social connection from the Mediterranean
The 20 years I spent living in a Mediterranean country brought that lesson home to me hard. In Spain, people live to connect and take any and every opportunity to do so.
Relationships take top priority in every situation - before punctuality, work commitments and leisure activities.
That’s not to say that Spanish people aren’t ever punctual, don’t work hard or don’t know how to enjoy themselves. They most certainly do. But they also have a strong sense of when giving time to a relative or close friend needs to take priority over any or all of those.
Marcus McAllister talks to Alyson Stanfield about social connection
Marcus McAllister is an American artist who relocated to Paris the same year I moved to Spain. In his recent interview on Alyson Stanfield’s podcast, Marcus says that social relationships have been the motor behind his ability to survive and thrive in his creative career in France.
I can’t say I was surprised.
Just like Marcus, whenever I find myself in a sticky place I reach out. And, somehow, I always get what I need.
And, like him, very often an opportunity to show my work seem to simply ‘drop into my lap’ when I get out and talk to people. (This week when when I popped into a lovely local gallery/shop buy something completely unrelated, they offered to display my work.)
Don’t pre-judge what a ‘suitable’ social connection looks like
Marcus not only stresses the importance of social relationships per se, but cautions against dismissing anyone out of hand when we’re looking for interest in our art.
Tempting though it is to categorise people, you can’t always tell who is going to be potential purchaser for your art - and very often it’s not the people you might imagine.
When I had a solo show in my Spanish ‘home’ town, I gave a printed invitation to everyone I knew, regardless of their ‘status’. The result? Massive attendance at the opening night, a good steady flow during the ensuing weeks, and really fab sales.
It was also really gratifying to see people who had never set foot in a gallery space before, empowered to come and visit the exhibition.
Opening your studio for face-to-face connection
Marcus’s commitment to being as open to new relationships as possible is epitomised by the regular studio ‘afternoon teas’ which he held for many years - a fantastic opportunity for people to simply drop into the studio and chat.
The curiosity that people have to see inside a ‘real artist’s studio’ is a great technique for introducing new people to your work and generating sales.
If you’re shy, this can really take the pressure of because you can use showing people round the studio as an ice-breaker.
Just remember to ask them lots of questions about the kind of art they like. People love to talk about themselves!
Plus if a group turns up, conversation will soon start flowing between them, taking the pressure off you ;)
Social connection without a dedicated studio space?
But what about if you don’t have a dedicated studio space? The good news is you can still hold the same kind of event by opening up your home and making sure there’s plenty of art on show.
I talk all about how to do this in my eBook 10 Steps to a Successful Open Home Studio.
Try your own Open Home Studio
Although according to Marcus, attendance at open studio events in his area of Paris have dropped substantially in recent years, here in the UK open studios are thriving.
If you’d like to try an open studio event yourself as a way to attract potential new collectors, I’m offering 20% off my 10 Steps to a Successful Open Home Studio eBook throughout July.
Whether you decide to do an open studio or not, creating situations for face-to-face connection is key to growing your creative business. So forget spending all your time on social media and find ways to interact!