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What an Art League can do for you!

In this age of the internet and online interaction, many artists wonder if Art Leagues and Guilds are a thing of the past.  Younger artists see these groups as a relic of a time gone by and older artists may feel there’s no good reason to join, as they don’t need assistance or education.  

Many don’t understand how an art league or guild can benefit both established artists, and even those just starting out in the art world.  However, these groups have many facets that are not widely known and seldom advertised. These can be real assets to artists at any stage of their career.

So, I’m here to list just few very surprising things you may not know…

  1. There are leagues and guilds for almost every individual interest and medium! (I’ll list a few at the end of this post along with links on how to contact them or view their websites.) Do you love waterbased mediums like watercolor and acrylics? There’s one just for that! Is sculpture your thing? Yes, there’s one for that! What if you experiment in all kinds of mediums, including oils and mixed media?  Work in dry media, like drawing or pastel?  How about clay, glass or jewelry? Yes, there’s a place for you in an art group too. If you want to make sure your work fits into a guild or league, check out their website, and look at the work that’s already showing.  It’s a great way to get a peek at where you might fit.  But remember, all the pictured work on their sites are normally the “Best of the Best”.  You don’t have to be as experienced as the best to join in and learn or show.
  2. Pick a few that pique your interest.  Visit once, twice or more as a guest.  Get a feel for the group that speaks to you and your art.  Chat with members, watch live demonstrations, and find out about their shows, workshops and gatherings to see if they are a good fit for you. No one will push you to “pay up” until you are ready to decide that you like what they have to offer! If you find a group, but it’s in Scottsdale, Mesa or somewhere else, and you live in Phoenix or another area…no problem!  You don’t have to live in the exact same city or area as the league is based.
  3. You don’t have to attend every meeting if you join, but most ask that members who want to enter juried or non-juried shows attend at least three meetings over the course of a year. Some of the groups are large, some are very small and meetings can be very brief or last their entire scheduled time.  Meetings are usually limited to an hour and a half (that often includes demo time) and many times they have great snacks! Arriving late if you work isn’t an issue, but enter quietly.  If you stay till the end, many have raffles, drawings for gift certificates, and 50/50’s.
  4. Entering their shows and exhibitions are a fantastic way to add some real value to your resume, whether you place as a winner or just show.  Believe it or not, membership in guilds and leagues tells those reading your bio that you are willing to work to gain identity and credibility in the art world.  Check out a few art magazines and see how many well known and established artists list their affiliations with different art groups and guilds!  Get your work out there for people to see.  Sell it, win awards, win prize money and more.  Most groups have shows and exhibitions in prestigious locations, so whether you’re young or old…if you’re looking to get exposure and build a collector base, this is a great opportunity to jump start your career in the arts.
  5. Some groups have their own permanent gallery space where you can show and sell. (The Sonoran Arts League comes to mind.) You don’t need to live in the area where they have their show space, but you will need to belong to the group and pay membership fees.  Most also require you to “jury in” so that they can be sure of the quality of the work that you’ll be showing in their gallery.  But if you’re serious about your work, you wouldn’t want it any other way!
  6. If you’re not sure which to attend first, look at their websites and the listing of content on the individual meeting dates.  Many have amazing demonstrations from professional, nationally known artists who create entire works right there, on site during the meeting. I personally have seen some that I would have PAID to see work in person, and basically you are getting it for free!!
  7. Last, but not least…they are welcoming to everyone.  And it’s fun!!  Believe it or not, while they do take their work seriously, there are lots of laughs during the course of a group meeting, and all are encouraged to join in. Have a question? Don’t be shy!  You can be a “newbie” and still fit in. No need to have a college degree in art or be a professional.  They love showing newcomers to the art field “the ropes”.
  8.  If you’re young, well…sometimes the membership can see a bit older, but it’s a fabulous look into the hearts and minds of artists who have been working on their art for their entire lives.  They will welcome you with open arms!  Fresh ideas from younger members of the art community invigorate the group, and no one will turn their back on your more unusual or offbeat art, no matter what you think! 

Interested?? Below, I’ve listed just a small sample of the many groups located in Arizona.  If you don’t see one you like, just Google for art groups, leagues, guilds or organizations in the area close to you.  

As Mikey, the cereal kid used to say…”Try it, you’ll like it!”

Author: Kat Kurgan – Arizona Art Supply

Organizations for you to check out:

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