Several years ago when I was just starting to study books and magazine articles about art quilts (mostly at night in bed just before I fell asleep), I joined the Quiltart email list group. I can’t remember how I found out about it, or what compelled me to subscribe. But I did, and suddenly I was thrown into this kind of chatty internet world, where artists and wanna-be artists were talking all the time — about techniques, materials, and where to get them, what books to read, artists to look at, what shows people got accepted to, what shows people had been rejected from, how to ship work, how to make work…. And I could ask a question, and it was usually answered five different ways in the same day.
Next, I joined the SAQA list, which is a professional discussion group. I really believe that being a part of these groups has propelled my art and career, and I believe that being a part of a targeted group to discuss and share information can help other artists.
Fast-forward to this summer: I decided that using the internet this way could have a positive impact on other aspects of my art, and have since joined some illustration email and social networking groups. Actually, it seems to be working the same way. I’m meeting people and learning lots of stuff that I don’t know how I would learn otherwise.
Fast-forward to now: Becoming visual arts chairman on the board of a regional arts council has made me think long and hard how I might best use my volunteer time. I’ve decided to try to build a regional email discussion group, but am uncertain how it will work to encourage communication between artists working in different media and allied with different local organizations.