Melanie Stoer, a glass artist, worked as a project manager in the corporate world before becoming an artist, and found that Triangle ArtWorks provided resources that ultimately allowed her to break into the art world.
“It kind of revolutionized my art business,” Stoer said. “I was only a year or so into selling my work and was looking for calls for art, and gigs and stuff on every website out there, and here's Triangle ArtWorks putting it all into one Twitter feed.”
This particular meetup is geared toward assisting local artists in marketing their work and promoting themselves as professionals. These kinds of events empower artists to take ownership of their work, Stith said.
“It’s kind of, ‘Let's just start talking and see where we’re at,’” Stith said. “That's what it’s really about, forging those in-person connections and learning from one another.”
For Stith, networking is just that—connecting with other people and creating relationships. She said that while networking can often carry a negative connotation, she chooses to view it as a positive life development.
“I love the idea that networking is just making friends with people, and that's one of my favorite things,” Stith said. “I also believe that it's about being involved in your community.”
Buffy Taylor, a visual artist, said that it was at a 2016 event similar to the one happening Saturday where she first got involved with Triangle ArtWorks. It was at this networking event in downtown Raleigh that she was able to meet other artists and patrons, and was eventually commissioned to paint a mural for Imurj.
Taylor said that networking in the art world can be challenging, especially because she has found many artists, like herself, to be introverted, and better at creating art than discussing it in person with others.
“(Networking) is just something you have to do to get out there and meet people,” Taylor said. “You just have to be present with others, and your work needs to be present with others as well.”
Stith said that having this sense of community is valuable for artists, who often think that the obstacles they face in their profession are unique to their situation. This is especially true in aspects of the professional world that might not be inherently comprehensible, such as website development or social media use, Stith said.
“When you are an individual artist, you feel like you're constantly reinventing the wheel, like this is really challenging and you don't know how to make a website, you don't know how to craft the perfect tweet,” Stith said. “But what you realize is that there are tons of people who have also had that same struggle, and they've either figured it out or they're still struggling right there with you, so there's just no reason to feel alone.”
Stoer said that what many people outside of the art world don’t realize is that most artists are also business owners and entrepreneurs, and that it is important for the public to understand both the economic and cultural value that local art has on the community.
“Whether it's going to DPAC, or buying a plate from me at an art show, all of these things are adding to the vibrancy of our community,” Stoer said. “It’s one of the reasons so many people want to live and move here.”
Stoer said that it’s a combination of business and creativity that make the Triangle so unique and is something that Triangle ArtWorks is working to highlight.
“We have a thriving arts and culture business segment, it's not just fun, it’s work, and it’s important for people to know that there's a whole lot of value there,” Stoer said. “Because what would life be without color and beauty and provocative thoughts and all those things that the arts bring us.”