10 reasons to attend artist meetups

Published by Nela Dunato on in Tips for creatives

10 reasons to attend artist meet-ups

Artist meet-ups, artist dates, sketch groups, whatever you prefer to call them — they’re an awesome way to socialize with like minded people, and it’s not only fun, but it can be productive as well!

It might sound like a regular coffee date at first, and you might think no one gets anything done, but from my experience it’s far from true. You gathered for a reason — to create.

NaNoWriMo Write-In in my apartment
NaNoWriMo Write-In in my apartment. Plenty of tea and snacks for everyone!

I’ve attended several different artist meetups so far:

  • I’ve gathered a few people for the first Rijeka SketchCrawl, and several more times
  • I hosted NaNoWriMo Write-Ins in my apartment for the past two years, and
  • recently one of my best friends started organizing a monthly meet-up of a creative collective called “The Hauntlings”.

If you never attended such a creative gathering, here’s what you might be missing out on.

1. Accountability

When you set the date and time of your meeting with people, you can’t just back off and not go for no good reason.

Setting time for our own work often fails — there’s chores to do that take longer than we thought, that “just one glance” at our e-mail tuned into an hour of surfing, etc. And if that happens, you either make yourself feel miserable (and thus less likely to do something creative), or just shrug it off.

But when you cancel a date with someone, unless you have a very good reason, it bears social consequences — you’re the “flaky one”, people stop trusting your word. So for this reason when you plan a few hours of hanging out with artistic friends and do something creative, you will go there and do it, and you won’t come back home without at least one new piece of work.

2. You socialize with people who understand your passions

If you’re self-taught, you might not have many artistic friends. Your parents might not approve of your lifestyle. Your partner may not be as interested in all aspects of art, so you don’t want to bore them. Your friends may not value the “work” part of artwork and think you’re just playing all the time, and take your “talent” for granted (you know, all those compliments followed by “Oh, I wish I could draw like that!” and the blank look when you tell them “But you could!”).

With artistic friends you can discuss about art supplies, learning methods, styles, challenges, gallery shows, classes, books, and everything else that would bore the hell out of your non-artsy friends!

The Second Haunting
The Second Haunting by “The Hauntlings”. I’m the one with the black blouse and brooch on my chest.
Photo by Claire LegoWitch

3. Meeting new friends

If you have some online acquaintances in your city, this can be a chance to get to know them in person. Also, everyone you know might bring along someone you don’t, so your circle of friends is ever expanding.

4. Finding inspiration you might not get otherwise

If you remained at home alone, you would not get the same impressions as when you’re somewhere outside, especially with other people. This inspiration can be direct, such as drawing architecture, portraits, etc. from life, or it can be more subtle — the very act of changing environment from the everyday one may trigger some subtle inner workings of your mind. Something you hear in a conversation may strike you and provide inspiration as well.

I created this little watercolor illustration because I was inspired by a “haunted house” we visited during our first The Hauntlings meetup.

Evelyn the lonely ghost, watercolor illustration by Nela Dunato
"Evelyn the lonely ghost", watercolor on A4 watercolor paper, 2012.

5. Witness other artists’ process in real time

Us artists are so curious when it comes to other people’s process… we could spend hours looking at time lapse videos (another one here), WIP shots on Instagram or Tumblr, and whatnot. Seeing all the steps in-between makes the final work look less like unfathomable sorcery. It’s a source of instruction. We want to see if perhaps there is something our colleagues do better and more efficient than us.

A live demo is even better than that. You can really appreciate the time it takes to create something — time lapse videos can give a false feeling of effortlessness. During the live demo you can ask questions about anything you’re curious about!

6. A chance to work on your performance anxiety

Does drawing in front of other people frighten you? Do you hate when people peek over your shoulder while you’re working? This is a great chance to work on that issue, since you’re surrounded by other artists who are just like you, and likely feel the same.

You might have thoughts like “But what if my drawing turns out crappy?”, “What if I fail and they think I’m a bad artist?” — it’s not going to happen. You are not being graded, and it’s likely other people don’t share your perception of failure. And even if you do make a boo-boo, like your portrait of a friend not looking much like him in the end – it doesn’t matter! They will understand because they’ve either been there themselves, or still are. Relax.

SketchCrawl portraits in pencil, ink and watercolor
Here are some of the sketches we did at the SketCrawl. The bottom left is Djuro‘s pencil drawing of me, and to the right is my watercolor sketch of Iva

7. You can get critique in the early stages of your work

Self-taught artists have a hard time finding people to critique them, and even when they do get it, it’s usually when the project is so far ahead that they’d have to do it all over again to fix those issues. But with other artists around you, you can ask them if it seems right while still in the rough sketch phase, and then check up a few times as you progress. Encourage people to be honest and point out if something seems off.

8. Get motivated by people who are passionate

Have you been in a slump lately, and need some extra boost to help you to keep your course, or perhaps change it into something new?

Your colleagues probably have interesting stories about their projects. Some of they may just have the kind of career you hope to have soon. Ask them questions and they’ll surely open up and tell you all about it!

The key is of course, not to be envious because they’re already where you want to be, and if thoughts like “I can’t do what they do, because I’m not that good” arise, send them away and don’t let them become your story that will overshadow everything that’s good.

You might find yourself coming home energized, motivated and inspired just from being around people who have those qualities!

Sketchmeet at Rikon 2015 in Rijeka
Sketchmeet at Rikon 2015 in Rijeka with my pals Zhillustrator and Toxicpanda

9. You get to utilize the collective brainpower

Are you struggling with something in your work? Is there a technique you never did and don’t know how to start? Maybe others can provide the knowledge you need, or a missing piece of the puzzle. Artist meetups are a terrific way to brainstorm, just make sure to reciprocitate – everyone should get their chance to ask and get help.

10. A chance to test new tools before investing in them

Have you been eyeing something online and pondering whether to buy it, and someone at the meetup has it? Or someone brought something you’ve never seen before and it looks really neat and practical? Ask them if you can try it out for a few minutes! I’m sure they won’t mind, even kindergarten kids know you should share your toys with others. And maybe they want to try something you have, as well. Win win for everyone!

Watercolor pencils and watercolor brushes
Everyone wants to use my Pentel waterbrushes with watercolor pencils.

Now you may say, “That’s all nice Nela, but there are no artists’ gatherings where I live”. So what? There weren’t any around here either, and we made them!

I organized the first SketchCrawl in Rijeka by sending out a tweet to some designers and illustrators that live around, and made a Facebook event to which I invited some of my friends. In the end, 7 of us showed up, of them 3 people I’ve never met before!

My friend formed “The Hauntlings” all by herself. The first gathering was just a few friends, to see how everything would go. The Second Haunting was a public event on Facebook, and somewhere around 20 (!) people came and participated. It exceeded all our expectations. The Third Haunting was in an actual old abandoned house, something my friend had dreamed of from the very beginning.

Did I convince you to attend an artist meet-up? Do you have any questions or fears?
Did you ever attend one, and have some experiences to share?
Comment below!


Some blog articles contain affiliate links to products on Amazon or Jackson's Art Supplies. I’ll get paid a few cents if you buy something using my link, and there’s no extra charge to you.

13 responses to “10 reasons to attend artist meetups”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Great insights on accountability but also on the creative feeding that happens when you share with others who get what you do! Found on on the Goddess Circle so thanks for sharing there.

  2. Thank you, Arwen! I’m glad you liked it. I hope more people will realize how much benefits they can get from creative hangouts.

  3. Some really great thoughts in this post, Nela. Although I’m not visually artistic, this has got me thinking about the possibility of writer meetups – for exactly the same 10 reasons!


    TANJA (also from the Goddess Circle!)

  4. Thanks, Tanja!
    I agree, these apply to writers as well, that’s why I mentioned NaNoWriMo write-ins! It has worked for us, and some fabulous breakthroughs happen on such events. A person that comes uninspired and blocked walks away with 2000 words written, isn’t that amazing?

    Seattle immigration lawyer, glad you agree :)

  5. Hi Nela, Thanks for your comment on my craft blog. Your site is super and I really enjoyed your post on artist meet ups. Lots of good information. I love the diversity of your work, you are very talented!

  6. Hey Nela,
    Your article is really great. Apart from designer you are very good writer. This topic is helpful. We really need to socialize ourselves with Artist like you mentioned. At every step of life we need some inspiration and support and its perfect way to do it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  7. Louise, thank you for stopping by! :) I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed my work and my writing!

    Kodaikanal, thank you for your kind words, it’s great to know others find it helpful :)

  8. Hi Nela! First off, I just wanted to thank you for your review :) Your advice is great and I’m working on fixing up the things you mentioned. I’ve been a long time admirer of your work and resources :P

    Great blog and of course, amazing portfolio!

  9. Heeey! Nice to see you here, and thank you very much! :)
    I’m honored that you’ve been following my work before. I’m going to check out what you’ve done with the site right now!

  10. This is just a great idea. I find it very helpful to connect with others to create and connect. Sometimes life gets busy and without these opportunities I might not otherwise take the time.

  11. Thanks, Michelle :) I agree! At times when I have other pressing priorities, setting time for something like this definitely helps in making art a priority.

Leave a Reply to Kodaikanal holiday packages Cancel reply

If you're new here, please read the commenting guidelines before posting. By submitting your comment, you consent to your comment and personal information being collected in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *