Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I know I've ranted about artists constantly being hit up for donations of their money, art & time and have spoken about the generosity of artists before, but today I'm going to take an opportunity to encourage artists to volunteer.

There are many benefits of volunteering for art organizations that you are involved with. So many artists just see memberships in art organizations as lines for the resume, support systems for emerging artists, or opportunities to exhibit, but they can offer so much more than that. I have spoken before about becoming actively involved, and I strongly encourage art organization members to do so.

Active members' voices are heard more than those who just pay their dues. (Note: some members are more active by contributing more monetarily, this is not solely based upon time involvement.) It is the active members who will be sought first to offer insights into how organizations are managed and what they want to see happen. So by becoming involved you can help determine focus and direction and shape the organization.

Volunteering can help you network with those running the organization and other members and artists who are involved. Helping out with drop off and pick up of art, working receptions, sitting a table during an art fair and other similar tasks can offer great opportunities to meet others and to get to know those involved in the organization better.

Uncrating shipped works enables you to see how other artists pack their works for shipment and what works and doesn't work for them and why. You can then refer to this knowledge later when preparing your own artworks to ship.

Helping to hang shows is a huge benefit because you can see the end effects of curating and how artworks are positioned in the space in addition to examining how other artists prepare their works for hanging. You get a better feel for the flow of the show and for how different galleries and spaces do things differently. This can help when considering curating an exhibition yourself or when hanging or preparing your own work for display.

By being actively involved, you gain invaluable knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes and get to know more people in the organization. You can put that information to use to make it easier on those working with you and to better understand their processes, thus making a better professional impression while establishing contacts. And, the more you do so, the more you'll find that others are willing to work with you towards larger scale projects or with alternative presentations because they know and respect you.

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