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What I Learn from Helping

For the past few months, I've been involved with our local art association. This is a new adventure for me! I'm one of the officers and work on the technology side of things. This means updating the website, organizing online calls for art, updating our online store and those kinds of things. These aren't really my talents, but I'm a pretty quick learner. Helping out in a volunteer capacity has really taught me a lot about the local art community. Here are five things I've recently learned about the benefits of helping.

Our table at the Downtown Plano Art & Wine Event

Meeting New People is Fun

If you don't get out and meet new people, it's difficult to know what's going on in the world! There's only so much one can learn from a close circle of friends, family, and online connections. Talking with people live and in person really expands my understanding of how I fit into my community as an artist. I love to learn about what motivates others to make art. It's also really interesting to participate in casual feedback sessions. The more viewpoints I get, the better I understand what it means to make art. And, meeting new friends feels great! It gives me confidence and a feeling of belonging.

Helping is Rewarding

In a lot of the exhibitions I help to organize, I enjoy helping others enter their art more than entering my own art. There are a lot of artists just beginning to show their work who need advice and help, especially the technical kind. I like helping artists learn how to upload good photos of their work and navigate art submissions. It's really rewarding to see people stand next to their work in a show I helped to organize. They feel recognized and accomplished. I don't consider myself an expert, but in the scope of things, there are so many ways I can lend advice when needed. Again, this feels great! Helping others gives me the energy I need to return to my quiet studio ready to create.

There is Always Something New to Learn

One of the best ways to stop evolving as a creative person is to stop learning. Being involved with the art association has pushed me into new territories. I have learned so much about the background work involved with putting on a juried show. It's not that different from organizing a professional conference, which is a big job. Learning about how the jurors see the art submissions has helped me to be more thoughtful about my own submissions. Hanging art in shows is a great way to see the best framing and presentation decisions artists make. It also makes me reconsider the sizes of my art that I submit to art shows.

Pushing Yourself into Different Experiences is Enlightening

I never thought that my art was appropriate for outdoor shows. But the art association participated in an art & wine walk last month. I helped with our table display. During the event, I met so many new people! Art collectors, artists, curious people, all stopped to say hello. My previous ideas about outdoor shows melted away. These are wonderful opportunities to bring art to the community. Framed watercolors can be easily shown on a display table. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I can't wait for the next event! Doing something different is not nearly as difficult as I imagined.

Me, in 109 degree August heat, but still smiling because the event was a lot of fun!

The Art World Needs Volunteers

It can feel a little intimidating to volunteer in a new organization. You might, at first, feel unqualified or like you don't have the time. Once you get to know how to do things, you begin to realize how much there is to do. If you feel strongly about the work of an organization, chances are you have skills that can be put to good use. Art exhibitions often rely on volunteers for publicity, organizing digital files, email communication, greeting artists at drop off and pick up, hanging art, making labels....the list goes on! The more people volunteer, the more events can happen. If you want your art to be seen, try volunteering!

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