It's no secret, being an artist can be lonely. We spend hours working on our craft in solitude and it seems like the only way to connect with people these days is virtually.
Loneliness isn't just a problem artists face; according to the US Surgeon General, loneliness has become an epidemic in the United States recently and is a public health crisis.*
"The lack of social connection poses a significant risk for individual health and longevity. Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk for premature death by 26% and 29% respectively." **
Recently in the last year, I moved from a large city to a small coastal town with less than 20,000 people. I thought that it would be difficult make local connections without traveling several hours to the big city, but I was very surprised to find that there is a vibrant art and music scene in my small little town! While I am sure not every artist is as lucky as me, it is definitely worth checking around your local area to see what is going on.
So in this post I wanted to talk about some ways to connect with your local art scene or with other creatives in person.
Seek out Local Galleries
One of the best ways that I have found to meet other artists is by going to local art galleries or craft fairs. You never know who you will meet and strike up a conversation with. You can ask the gallery what sort of events are going on in the local area, and some galleries may have a bulletin board for artists to advertise events.
You may have to look online, or check the local Facebook group (if there is one). I have found that small towns (at least mine) will often have a Facebook page for some of the news and events in the area.
Go to Community Events
Even if there are no art-related events in your area, going to a small event at your local library, community center, or local fairs will put you in touch with members of the community. I am often surprised at how much I have in common with people in my community once I start up a conversation. Maybe there is a local farmer's market that you could sell your art at? Or a coffee shop that you can show in? Art is always a good conversation starter!
Take or Teach a Class
Another way to connect with people is to take a class. You will likely meet other people with similar interests and you never know where that could lead you.
You can also teach a class, if you feel confident in your skill level. There are many places that will do Paint and Sip events that may need artists to teach, or you can always set up virtual classes as well. If your town has a fun local coffee shop, maybe talk with them about hosting an event like this and petition how it may draw more business to the shop.
Join an Artists Guild
A third option is to join an artists guild, if there is one available in your area. Usually there is a fee to join. Some guilds offer gallery memberships and other benefits of being a member. I have not tried this out myself, but through researching my local guild, it seems that they have monthly classes, and members get wall space to show in local galleries. A lot of guilds are connected to participating local galleries in the area as well, so you will open more doors for opportunities.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas of how to connect with others socially. We don't all have to be reclusive artists living in our studios (unless of course that is your jam, then by all means do that).
I have certainly felt more lonely over the last couple of years and while I love working from home, it doesn't foster the same level of connection that being in-person does.
What about you? Have you experienced more loneliness recently?
Sources: * hhs.gov