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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Column: Networking

After years of sitting in the dark about my paintings, I eventually discovered how important it is to get out there and network. Particularly in today’s art and media industry, the invention of the internet has expanded the artist’s venue for networking to imaginable capabilities.

Here is a list of tips I’ve composed to help me prepare for Graduate School and the art world that might be of some use to you:

Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors
You’ll be surprised to see how willing your professors are to help you. It might be intimidating at first, but the feedback you get might make or break your piece for a dance choreography or composition to a painting, etc. At this university, we have professors who have firsthand experience working on Broadway or Hollywood films or have had their own body of work displayed at some extremely renowned museums. So you should definitely try to hear what they have to say.

Get out there
In order for you to thrive in the art world, you need to make your work known. Also, just know that you will have to start from the bottom. This means that most of the jobs you get starting out (photographing headshots, making screen prints or interning at various design or art companies, etc.) will most likely give very little pay. But for the sake of expanding your portfolio, experience and exposure of your work, it’ll be worth every minute.

Take advantage of every resource available
Not everyone is fortunate enough to own a studio space or a computer with all of the necessary programs they need. Therefore, if you have access to a studio, you should embrace the opportunity. Additionally, there may be some courses you wish you could take that are not offered at this university. For instance, I wanted to learn how to use Adobe Suite (InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator), but noticed there weren’t any classes I could take to learn these skills. After doing some research, I found that Hart Hall Lab, which has now moved to the new Student Community Center, has all of the programs that I wanted to learn. I would spend my own time after classes to learn the programs myself.

Get to know other artists
It might be easy to think that you can get by on your own as an independent artist with a distinctive style. However, having a strong foundation of friends in the field is extremely helpful and reassuring. It’s always helpful to get a second opinion from someone who has a good eye for the basic components of what you’re interested in.

Be open to social networking
This is the most important tip: Use the internet and social networking sites as means to get exposure for your work. These days, you can purchase a domain on sites like GoDaddy, pairNIC, Register or iWantMyName for 10 dollars for a year’s subscription to have your own custom URL. By using templates offered by businesses like Cargo Collective or even Tumblr, you can establish a really professional-looking website to display your body of work. Trust me, this is extremely important. If you ever meet someone who is interested in your work, you can refer them directly to your own website.

UYEN CAO would like to let you know what you have to say about her tips. Check out her website at uyencao.com or e-mail her at arts@theaggie.org.

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