One of the joys and/or challenges of working for yourself, depending on how you're feeling and how you view it, is working on your own. For many, this beats, hands down, the alternative of working in a corporate environment and many wouldn't swap it for the world. I'm lucky as I get to have the best of both worlds, working with a lovely team as an Art Psychotherapist, as well as having solo time in the studio as an Artist, where I can enjoy my own company, listening to my music, podcasts or the radio, or just peace and solitude and time to be alone. At one time I did think I would love to work in my studio fulltime but I now know after working at home during the pandemic, I missed those connections. I like the balance of both, although at times it is a fine balance, too much of one and I crave the other.
Connection is so important as Humans are naturally social beings, we thrive when connected to ‘our tribe’. We gain so much from connecting with others, with good quality relationships supporting our physical and mental wellbeing. It is even thought staying connected can help our resilience and protect against stress. Positive human connections help to grow our trust and confidence, activating our brains and laying down and reinforcing neural pathways in ways that encourage more of the same. Primary care givers who are attuned and interactive actually help babies brains to grow so now wonder we feel we need to stay connected to others. It can literally improve our brains!!
Other creative people I know, both personally and virtually, often talk about the isolation of working alone and they find it really useful to connect with others like minded folk, for a bit of a creative chat, check in or cup of tea. This is something I do really enjoy, and something I'm making the effort to do more of this year. I'm intrigued by what makes other creative minds tick, what’s challenging and what people are up to.
These are some of the ways that I ensure I stay connected with other artists:
I met Fiona Cant, an artist from Cornwall during one of the online art courses I took a couple of years ago. As we got to know one another through our Instagram posts it became obvious we had a lot in common and we were at similar stages of our artist journey. Fiona suggested we meet up for an online chat and during that initial conversation the subject of accountability buddies cropped up. We ended up agreeing to be each other’s. How this works for us is that we meet up online each month and we talk about what wea re doing, current challenges, and loosely agree what we are working on over the following week.s This is a great way of sharing experience and knowledge and also having someone to check in with keeps me on track. AS well as this I also meet up with other local artist-friends face to face to chat about current challenges and progress and there is #lookbacktoleapforward, the monthly accountability prompts on Instagram, from artist, Tamara Grand. This gives me, and other artists, the chance to share our goals from the previous month, to check in on achievements and also to set ourselves goals for the coming month. I love taking part in this and it helps me to stay connected with the smaller monthly goals I set myself.
Artist Membership groups
I’m a member of two groups, Connected Artist Club with Alice Sheridan and Art Tribe with Louise Fletcher. Both of these groups have been a great source of connection over the past year. They are great places to ask questions and share experience and you get to meet practicing artists in all stages of their creative journeys from all over the world. Private Facebook groups provide the ideal forum for discussions and monthly content and newsletters give you great insights into what other group members are up to. The new content each month is also great to follow and there is a great wealth of information and resource to help your professional development. There are many options for these kind of memberships from paid to free. Shop around and do your research to find out what’s right for you.
I love hanging out on social media and have made many connections with like-minded creatives by doing so. My online community covers
• my social media contacts, Instagram, Facebook and more recently TikTok,
• my Instagram live chats ‘Conversations with Other Artists’ where I interview other artists about different topics such as Open Studios
• my email newsletters which I send out about once a month (hope you have signed up, the link is here and also on most of the pages on my website). Having an email newsletter allows me straight into your inbox with monthly news, inspiration, process insights and special offers. I really do make a special effort with these newsletters and as a result I’ve had some wonderful feedback from my readers saying how much they enjoy reading them.
• Blog posts – my studio notes on my website. Right here!! I used to blog several times a week but this has dropped off over the recent years as shorter image based posts on socials became more popular now. I hear a lot about how artists are finding social media more and more challenging in recent months as algorithms change and people are finding they are getting less reach. Maybe blogs will become more popular again as people look for deeper more meaningful connections.
Face to Face events
As we come out of the social isolation we experienced during the Covid pandemic and life gets back to normal face to face events are once again happening. This year Open Studio events have been happening up and down the country, art fairs are once again opening and we are remembering what it feels like to make connections with real people in real life. Holding the Open Studio event in June really reminded me of how enjoyable these kind of events can be and it made me want to do more of them. Watch this space for future plans
So for those of you who do work in isolation, in your own creative haven of peace and quiet, would you change a thing, or do you yearn for a bit of company and conversation every now and then? How do you cope with working on your own? Do you use social media to connect with your peers or do you belong to an organisation who meets regularly for support and networking... I'm all ears, please leave your comments below