Happy New Year
Today is January 9th which most likely means you have already dropped your New Year’s resolution, or perhaps you are keeping up with your yearly goal. Like most people I thought about a few things I would like to accomplish this year, including daily showers, clean laundry, and working on my art career. For me this means submitting for shows, writing a thesis, and finishing my MFA, while also getting more involved in the Toronto art community.
Wanting to find community, collaborators, and friends means that you sometimes get roped into this buzz term “Networking”. I personally feel there is a difference between wanting to be a part of a community and wanting to build your network, since networking implies that you are doing business. However there is no doubt in my mind that having a supportive community or network can help you with your future. Is it called networking because it is work? No matter what you call it there are ways to network that can have a positive impact and other times when networking can come across as negative or downright evil.
Only contacting people or galleries based on what they can give you, and how they can leverage your career to get you to where you want to be is a form of bad networking. Networking works best when you are building a relationship with a person or gallery that is reciprocal and respectful. Understanding when it is an appropriate time and place to submit your portfolio, ask for a studio visit, and get involved in a project comes down to understanding what works for the person at the other side of email, or phone call. Doing some research to find out upcoming calls, and checking first to find out if a space will accept walk in portfolio reviews, shows the gallery that you respect their time and their submission policies.
At the office at Xpace, we had a conversation about networking and all came to the conclusion that being a decent, helpful, and genuine human being is going to get you further then shaking a million hands, and handing out your portfolio to every gallery in town. If you are treating people like a job title and not a person don’t be surprised if people are going to treat you like a stranger and ignore you. Instead, think about spending time building relationships and being supportive of your peers by going to their shows, and working together to accomplish common goals. My friend Laura Findlay 2013 RBC Painting Finalist once told me that “A rising tide lifts all boats” which means to me that success and hardwork is not just good for the individual but also lifts the entire community.
Speaking of Community… have you considered submitting for the communal dinner FEAST.
Do you have an artistic project that could have some impact on the Toronto community? Do you enjoy eating delicious and nutritious food? Do you need MONEY to fund your project? Well Xpace has extended its call for submission for their upcoming FEAST community dinners and micro funding event to February 7th.
FEAST is a dinner hosted by Xpace, where upcoming projects are presented to the audience while they enjoy a tasty meal. There are two categories, the general call, and the student category, and the winners are decided by a popular vote, with the main vote being awarded the profit from the tickets sold $$$, while the student is given $300 towards their project. At the last FEAST two projects where funded including the Mass Arrival project (seen at Whippersnapper Gallery) which marched the streets of downtown Toronto, with the intent to create, “honest conversations about migrant/refugee justice and to highlight the history and continued practice of colonization in this indigenous land.” I won the last student grant donated by Xpace for my upcoming documentary “Gay Voice” which looks as the gay accent in the Toronto queer community.
Since I have been a past recipient of FEAST, I will give you some tips on how to make your project stand out and receive the most votes. When I presented I created a powerpoint and talked honestly about what I was planning on doing and its potential impact. My presentation went smoothly, but I also made sure I brought my friends for emotional support since I am not a public speaker. Having my friends there calmed me down and made the experience really enjoyable (and they voted for me wink wink). I encourage everyone to submit a project or mark Sunday February 23rd on your calendar and come FEAST on the amazing food and presentations.
By Humboldt Magnussen