I have spent most of my life trying to figure out how to make money as an artist. The art part of it was easy for me. I was compelled to put in the hours to develop technique, but I never envisioned myself as a businessman. The “rat race” always seemed so meaningless, but now I understand the need for resources. The question is: how do we get them?
Community is everything. Without support, we all fail. In the art world, this is undeniably true, yet we tend to fight over scraps like hungry wolves. In the business world, things are no different. We are convinced that if we share, we will starve.
This could not be further from the truth. In order to succeed we must share our resources. This means we need to get out and meet people with whom we can collaborate and evolve.
But where do we find these people?
If you live in Chicago, Primer, a monthly event at Canvas, is a great place to start.
I recently attended Primer and was impressed by the professionalism and ingenuity that pervaded the space. It is not often that you find so many high-caliber creators under one roof.
The event was essentially a networking affair, but it felt like a combination between a gallery opening and a house party. High-quality art, by artist Eva Carlini, hung on the walls, and friendly chatter could be heard in harmony with stellar music.
The night I was there, Cellist and vocalist Sylvie Grace welcomed us with an eclectic performance. We socialized freely for the first hour, and then several select entrepreneurs took the stage.
They told us about their projects, ranging from virtual reality machines to street festivals and explained their current needs. Some needed graphic designers or administrators; others needed content creators or fundraisers.
This wasn’t just a place for artists to come and meet other artists. The scope was much broader than that. This was a place for freethinkers to support creative ambition.
After the pitches, DJ LO Kari threw down some solid grooves while we started to connect with one another in a more determined manner. The energy of the pitches infected us all with the will to actualize our ideas.
In this space, it felt like we were working together to build the world we wanted.
I met business consultants and supply distributors as well as photographers and musicians. I talked about the things I wanted to accomplish, but knew I couldn’t do on my own. I offered my services to those that expressed interest in my work, and since then I have started forming new relationships with people I otherwise would not know.
It didn’t take much reflection for the magic of Primer, and of Canvas, to become clear: they ignore the boundaries and unite in a common goal.
We don’t need to label ourselves as “the artist” or “the business person”. Art is a business and business is an art. I’m glad to have found a place where the walls are being torn down, and anyone is welcome to participate in collaborative creation.
Canvas isn’t just an event space, and Primer an event, nor is it just another artist collective. It is a beacon to all those who are willing to evolve, together, and materialize the ideas that this world needs.
Any artist, or business person, who wants to accomplish their goals, needs a little help. This means we have to be willing to expose ourselves and our ambitions, as well as offer our services to those that need them. We need to go back and learn the basics. We need to share.