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How to Get Started as an Artist in a New City

One of the exciting challenges you might face as a young artist is the need to move around in order to discover new opportunities, find inspiration, and improve your skills.

Whatever your motivation for moving to a new city, be prepared for every challenge the process might throw your way. Not only is the scenery changing, but you may lose some of your most important connections like distributors, buyers, mentors, friends, and fellow artists.

If you find yourself starting from scratch, you’ll have to build a new network of artistic contacts - which can be both intimidating and exciting. So, you might ask, what’s the best way to begin?

Be Open

This first tip may be the most important: allow yourself to be open to meeting new people. Be open to meeting anyone and everyone (within reason, of course). You never know when the new friend you meet at a coffee shop could be a source of inspiration or referral for new work.

When you’re an artist, every new perspective and every new person could lead to a valuable opportunity, so try not to shut yourself off from any potential connections. Don’t put yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable or not the best use of your time - but talk to lots of people, everywhere, even if it’s only for a minute or two.

Create New Personal Branding Materials

When you’ve moved to a new city, you’ll have to update your branding materials with a new address, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade your entire portfolio.

Think through what projects you want to show off to your new neighbors, and consider refreshing your business cards to serve as takeaways for the people you meet. You can also update signage for tables or booths at events or in your office space where you meet prospective clients and collaborators. Take inspiration from the culture and character of your new home, and update your website and social media accounts to match.

Attend Local Networking Events

Most cities have regular networking events and “mixers” designed to put you in contact with people who share your interests. Professional networking events are excellent opportunities to discover marketers, business people, and and other artists who may have tons of connections around town.

Think about using a site such as Meetup to identify arts-related groups and organizations in the city and consider taking a class in a new medium once you’re feeling settled in your new place.

Go to Local Art Galleries

This should be a given. Use search engines to find art galleries in your area - chances are at least one will be holding an open house in the near future. These events are perfect occasions to meet people who are interested in buying art, the artists responsible for the pieces on display, and of course, the gallery owners who probably know everyone in the room and might be interested in displaying your work.

The key to effective networking is knowing who the biggest influencers are and connecting with them. As an artist, an art show is the perfect place to do just that.

Find Creatives on Social Media

If there’s a “second place” to find artistic influencers in your city, it’ll be on social media. Look for profiles and portfolios of artists in your city by searching your favorite platforms, learning the local hashtags, and filtering people by location.

Look for artists who have substantial followings, or whose posts suggest they’re well connected, and frequent attendees at events. Send them a friendly message with a request to connect, and ask to join them for a cup of coffee.

Even if only a few respond, you’ll still end up with new friends, potential collaborators, and a much broader network as a result.

Look for Local Events and Shows

Finally, keep an eye out for local art shows, film festivals, craft fairs, or other events that may be accepting applications from artists. Sign up for at least one of them if you have a project to display or product to sell. This will give you something concrete to work toward, and it’ll be the perfect opening to make your work visible in the new community and meet other people who love art as much as you do.

You probably won’t have a fully fleshed-out network of colleagues in the first month after moving to a new city, or maybe even in the first year. But the more you put yourself out there, and the more time you spend at the hotspots for artists in your new city, the faster and fuller your network will grow.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffPost.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.