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How to Network for Your Art Business

How to Network for Your Art Business

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By Katharine T. Carter

In the September 2011 issue of Magazine, Katharine T. One of the seven means of building a network that she discusses is by using directories.

Whether we like it or not, the success of nearly everything we attempt comes down to who we know. It’s all very well and good that you’re making fabulous art in your studio, but unless you show it to a fellow artist, curator or gallery owner, it can’t be included in an exhibition. Similarly if critics don’t see your work in your studio or displayed in a public space, they can never write about who you are and the art you create.

Using Directories
There are also readily available directories that can help you to identify the organizations and people you need to be acquainted with as a professional artist. These directories also supply contact information, as well as descriptions about what the organizations do.

Three of the most extensive are the American Art Directory, The Official Museum Directory, and Art in America: Annual Guide to the Art World Galleries/Museums/Artists. Your local or college library will undoubtedly have at least some of these reference books that will enable you to assemble a comprehensive database of organizations and art-world professionals.Use information from these directories to build a mailing list for sending exhibition announcements and press releases, and for contacting anyone of importance.

The American Art Directory
The American Art Directory, which is now updated annually, is essential, although a bit of a misnomer as it also includes Canadian listings and museums abroad. Although the publication costs close to $400, it’s worth every penny and should be a part of every artist’s library of reference books. It may be at your public library, but owning it means always having it available to consult outside library hours. This is the price of convenience.

The American Art Directory is divided into four sections:

  • Art organizations, which includes national and regional organizations and museums, libraries and associations in the United States and Canada
  • Art schools in the United States and Canada
  • Art information about museums abroad, art schools abroad, state arts councils, state directors and supervisors of art education, art magazines, newspaper art editors and critics
  • Indexes by subject, personnel and organization

Listings contain detailed descriptions of the organizations and institutions:

  • In “National and Regional Organizations” in Section I, the entries include name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, website, personnel, days open and hours, brief history and mission, annual attendance, funding sources, exhibitions, publications and activities.
  • Museums, libraries and associations are arranged alphabetically by state and city or town, and the entries are similarly extensive with the addition of special subjects and collections.

The Official Museum Directory
When The Official Museum Directory, published by the American Association of Museums, is used in conjunction with the American Art Directory, it provides a complete picture of exhibiting opportunities in nonprofit fine art institutions and possibilities for exposure in hundreds of other types of regional and specialized museums and exhibition spaces around the country, such as institutions devoted to dogs, rock ‘n roll, anthropology, natural history and science, automobiles, railroads, celebrities, costumes, sports and children, to mention a few.

  • The entries are arranged alphabetically by state, city/town, as in the American Art Directory, but offer more extensive information including an expanded staff list, major exhibitions, research fields and facilities.
  • Both institutions and personnel are indexed alphabetically.
  • A museum calendar of upcoming exhibitions provides limited information and can also be accessed at

Art in America: Annual Guide to the Art World Galleries/Museums/Artists
This very inexpensive (under $20), and easy-to-acquire publication comes out annually in August and is included with every Art in America magazine subscription. This guide is an essential publication for any artist interested in learning about the nonprofit and commercial exhibition opportunities in the United States.

  • Also arranged alphabetically by state and city/town, entries include name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address and website.
  • In most cases, the director’s name, entries also give days and hours open, a brief note about specialties, and the names of featured exhibition artists.
  • Listings are coded with an initial or initials (if included in more than one category): G-Gallery, M-Museum, U-University Gallery or Museum, N-Nonprofit Exhibition Space, C-Corporate Consultant, D-Private Dealer and P-Print Dealer.
  • Each entry is consecutively numbered to serve as reference points in the index under the following categorical headings: Galleries, Private Dealers, Print Dealers, Corporate Consultants, Museums, Nonprofit Exhibition Spaces, and University/College Galleries and Museums.
  • Using the number assigned in the main section allows you to quickly locate the complete entry.
  • There’s also an index of artists that’s arranged alphabetically with the number or numbers of the institutions where they’ve exhibited and galleries that represent them or have exhibited their work or plan to do so in the upcoming season.

Note: The entire article can be found in the September 2011 issue of Magazine. Click here for the downloadable issue.

Katharine T. Carter has worked as a professional photographer, successful New York City painter, small business owner, arts lecturer and artist advisor. Today she devotes her time to furthering the careers of artists across the country and working with institutions, galleries and critics to create solutions for success in today’s art world. This article is excerpted from the 363-page book Accelerating the Curves: The Artist’s Roadmap to Success by Katharine T. Carter Associates, published by Running Hare Press, 2010.

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