Community Building

What you say matters: learn how to nail your elevator pitch!

Sometimes, talking about your work as an artist or creative professional can be excruciatingly hard. This month we're exploring Community Building: what it takes to meet new people and open the doors to opportunity in a natural, genuine way.

Trust us, when we first started Kind Aesthetic it sometimes paralyzed us when we had to pitch our work to someone. The reason why? Because it was new and didn't make sense to us, yet. And that notion of believing in your work, understanding what your work means to you, why you do it, and what effect is has on your audience will lead to effective ways to summarize your work for networking purposes. Without clarity surrounding your unique story, it's going to be hard.

Having both learned from personal experiences and having witnessed so many amazing people sabotage an opportunity by stumbling on their words, being incoherent, or not giving their work enough credit, we knew it was time to take action. So, we developed a DELVE Workshop on the topic of the elevator pitch.

We got the chance to work with a big group of amazing artists at the Transcultural Exchange Conference in Boston this past February. We walked them through an exercise, and admittedly, not every person was a believer at first. We asked them to write the answers to some simple questions: What does your work look like? Why do you make it? What is it about? What inspires you? Artists were wondering how these words would translate to a verbal pitch.

The beauty behind this simple exercise is that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the room had a unique answer. So, everyone's elevator pitch was going to be different off the bat, right? WRONG!

The first few tries were full of artists saying things like:

I am a painter who works in New York City.
So? Who cares?! There are a million of you. How are you unique?

OR

I make colorful oil paintings about the environment.
Better, but not quite, because that woman in the brown shirt over there just said the same thing.

We just kept digging and pushing and finally, most people had an aha moment where they realized that they could summarize what they do in one sentence in a clear way, by describing their work visually and adding a brief statement about the conceptual drive or subject matter behind their work. They had just written it all down at the beginning of the workshop. The goal of your pitch is to be specific enough to be memorable and open doors.

The true test was getting up and practicing how to talk about their answers to their peers. How do you translate these big concepts and visual work into a short pitch? It's NOT easy but this exercise is vital to opening up doors of opportunity.

The results of the workshop were:

  • each artist spoke their elevator pitch at least ten times in a row to different people, which meant lots of practice and getting over that anxiety fast
  • each artist left with a stronger sense of how to talk about what they do and why they are unique
  • many people exclaiming: "this was the best workshop of the whole conference!"

Interested in hosting a DELVE Workshop for your group? We cover everything that artists and creatives need to best communicate their work: talking about your work, writing workshops, personal branding and more! We're here to help so feel free to get in touch!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Choose your own adventure by making your own opportunities.

Friends, it's hard to be an artist or creative entrepreneur alone. This month we're exploring Community Building: what it takes to build a supportive group of peers around you and your work. No matter at what stage of your career you are, there will be times when you feel like you have plateaued, or you feel stuck, or are lacking confidence in what you are doing. Sometimes it's hard to take the leap into shaking these feelings, so we've devised a list of ways you cultivate the community around you, step-by-step. Think of this as taking a new adventure, giving yourself a gift, and opening up doors of opportunity. It's all good; just go for it.

We've taken leaps into the unknown many times in the past when we wanted to meet more artists and creatives and cultivate a support network around what we do. Like when we decided to hold our first DELVE Networking event in March of 2013... and people actually showed up! And when we curated a multi-venue and multi-artist community exhibition called Windows Brooklyn back in 2008 and 2009 in Brooklyn, NY. We did these projects because we wanted to create a platform for artists and creatives to share what they do in a unique and genuine way, have fun, and meet like-minded individuals to challenge and inspire us. Well, it worked. Don't underestimate yourself.


Challenge: You need to build up confidence in your work.
Adventure: Invite someone over for a studio visit.

Challenge: You have a new body of work you want to exhibit, show or sell.
Adventure: Find a peer to exhibit with and create an apartment show or rent a fabulous space.

Challenge: You want to meet with people regularly to talk about your work.
Adventure: Create a critique group.

Challenge: You want to get better at being accountable to what you need to do.
Adventure: Get an accountability partner and check in with each other regularly to make sure you're staying on top of your to-do list. 

What else are you missing in your professional life? Can you do it yourself? Can you be the one to make change happen? Let us know if we can help.


Kind Aesthetic is a creative agency that helps artists, creative entrepreneurs and small businesses discover their unique stories and develop beautiful and compelling marketing materials. See what we can do to help you tell your story clearly, confidently, and genuinely, so that you can reach your professional goals and impress your audience. We also founded DELVE, a suite of services, events and inspiration for you all to reach your goals. Email us right now to schedule a totally free twenty minute call so we can get to know each other.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

2 Ingredients To Build Community As An Artist or Creative Entrepreneur

One of the talking points in our extensive conversations during the DELVE Toolkit is about building community. A lot of us often have that nagging feeling that we could be doing more to network and build a supportive community around us, but life gets in the way. We listen to what each of our clients is actually doing and help them figure out how they can enhance their community-building efforts, or if they are doing just fine. Building community isn't always easy, depending on where you live or how shy you are, but it's not impossible – it's so incredibly important. So read on...

More often than not, artists and creative entrepreneurs want:

  • people to share new work with, commiserate with, and bounce ideas off of
  • accountability and support
  • to feel that they are not isolated

There are two ingredients to build the community you seek: coffee and follow-through.

"Coffee" means: meet people out and go to events. Make coffee or drink dates with your peers. If you don't get out, then you won't meet the people you need to. We also like to have "virtual coffees," when an introduction is made and it's hard to meet up.

"Follow-through" means exactly that: communicate and do what you say you will and follow-up. Don't be that person that wants to meet up but doesn't make the effort to do it, because frankly, community won't always come to you. If you want to get some people together for a peer critique, for instance, start one yourself.

How will you (continue to) build your community? Start today! We know that each of you has at least one person you have been meaning to meet or reach out with. It all starts with an email. Have fun!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Bring your audience to you! The power of community.

We've had the pleasure of working with the multi-talented musician and all-around inspiring individual, Kate Schutt, over the past several months. In addition to being a soulful, talented performer, Kate has a lot to share with her world and her fans on her blog, where she write about her projects, musicians she admires, tips and thoughts about practicing and mastery, and more. Having her website as a hub is surely important for Kate to reach her fans as she is often on the go, but as a performer it's all about playing and sharing live and face-to-face. So, we were super excited when she played a house concert in NYC this past June with Newfoundland guitarist Duane Andrews.

Duane and Kate performing as The Fierce Dreamers.

Duane and Kate performing as The Fierce Dreamers.

The concert was beautiful, sounded great and was so much fun. Kate proved that bringing an audience to her was not only a way for her to perform and do the thing she loves, but it also affected her audience in an extremely positive way. She was able to:

-bring together a diverse group of people to share in a musical experience that we can all happily remember for years to come
-introduce her audience to other musicians we may not have heard of
-create a sense of community surrounding her art
-remind us that it's fun and exciting to take risks and learn new things
-have a fun party
-create her own unique opportunity that her fans could enjoy
-open up all of our minds to sounds, experiences, conversations and emotions we most likely would not have had on that lovely Saturday in June

So, the questions we ask you all are: How can you create your own opportunity to engage your community in what you do? How can you inspire through your creative abilities? It takes some planning and some hard work, but people like Kate can prove time and time again that it's all worth it and will bring you one step higher towards your goals each time.

Thanks for sharing with us, Kate!

This post was originally published on August 18th, 2014.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Preparing for Open Studios! For both artists and visitors.

For artists, Open Studios is an opportunity to show your work to a ton of people that may have never seen it. It's an kick in the pants to get your stuff together, to sell work, to be recognized, to take part in a wonderful community event, and to have some fun celebrating what you do. 

For the visitors, Open Studios means being able to see what happens behind all the closed doors in giant factory buildings, talk to new people and… buy art!! Don't be afraid to buy things you love from artists. They want you to. And the plus side is, you won't have to troll on horrible websites looking for overpriced framed posters for your apartments. 

Below are a few tips for both artists and visitors before you head over to Open Studios wherever you may be. Enjoy, and let us know if you have any questions in the comments!


What are you going to show? People will see anything you have out, so only show the work you want to talk about. On the other hand, keep other work easily accessible in case people ask for something they may have seen on your website. 

Your work and your studio should look good. This is like an exhibition. Make sure your work is hung/displayed professionally, lit well, and labeled. Same with your studio: keep it cool, have chairs for people that want to hang out, and be approachable. Don't burn incense or serve stinky cheese. Feed people nice food and serve them wine. Make it a party.

Get ready to tell your story. Are you ready to answer 101 questions about yourself and your work? You will be asked and remember that every question is an opportunity. Practice with your loved ones or studio mates. By the end of the Open Studios you will feel much more confident talking about your work. 

Printed Materials and take-aways. Business cards and postcards with your name, contact info and an image of your work. Copies of your artists statement, price list and CV. People will take these things, so let them and make them available. They may want to remember your work or share it. 

Be professional. If someone wants to buy a piece, be ready to accept payment, give them a receipt and a Bill of Sale. You are a business person. Be ready to pack up the works for people to take with them.

Tell people about it. Your organizing host is most likely working its butt off to make this Open Studios happen. They also rely on you to sent out Facebook invites, newsletters to your mailing list and remind people to come. Also, hang up signs at your address so people know where to go when they get there.

Get sleep. There is nothing worse than being exhausted or hung over while thousands of people storm through your studio. Trust us.

Forge relationships. Talk to everyone! Exchange business cards, collect email addresses and have fun. Follow up when it's all over and thank these amazing visitors for stopping by.

 


Do your research. Open Studios can be overwhelming, and these days there are many online resources to plan your visit before hand. For instance, Gowanus Open Studios is working with Artsicle to provide an online map for visitors so you can plan your routes ahead of time. There will also be panels, openings and tours available for you to take part in as well. 

Ask questions. If a piece interests you or you have simple questions about the work you are seeing, ask! Please ask. The conversations are the best part of it all, and there is no question too simple or complex. 

Come prepared to buy something. Just one thing. Even if it's a less expensive piece or a small print from an artist you love. This is a win/win situation: you have something new for your home or to gift a loved one, and the artist sells something!  If you want to buy more things, by all means, go ahead.

Forge relationships. This Open Studios is for you! Give the artists your business card, share their work with friends and on social media and be part of the community. It's a whole new world.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Why Competitions + Open Calls Matter

Having been on both sides of the application process for Open Calls and Competitions for artists, architects and designers, we wanted to share some insight for both parties: the applicants and the organizers. Both sides need each other and wonderful things can come from these opportunities. Read more below.

As artists, designers or architects we've all applied to countless Open Calls and Competitions. There are the ones we win, and the ones we lose. For the ones we win, hurray! Our work was recognized and a new opportunity has been forged. Do it to the best of your ability. You've hopefully researched this opportunity before you applied and are interested in it because the judges are great, the organizer is an inspiring institution and you are happy to be part of it. Great things can happen and new relationships can be formed.

From the applicant's perspective, losing is hard and frustrating, and we don't always receive feedback as to why we weren't chosen. (Tip 1: If you are sent a rejection letter, always reply and thank them for the opportunity and ask why you weren't chosen, unless there are clauses anywhere that say you shouldn't. Tip 2: Always read all of the details when applying and in all communication you receive. The details are there to provide direction for you and eliminate frustration for the organizers and judges.) It's necessary to keep in mind that there are only so many opportunities. (Tip 3: Consider creating your own opportunity. It's a lot of work but could be incredible for you and your peers.)

But there is an upside to applying to opportunities that we don't end up getting (assuring that these opportunities are appropriate for your work and you've followed all the application rules.) There are new eyes on your work and the judges will actually consider your visuals, your writing and your professional career. We've heard countless stories that though an artist didn't win an actual competition, a judge who happened to be a curator took note of the artist's work for a future opportunity. It sound a bit hokey, but sending your wonderful work out into the world for people to see is a positive thing and will generate energy surrounding it. So, keep dedicating time to applying. The organizers and judges definitely want to see your work.

If you're having trouble organizing your work to get ready for the application process, or want direction in creating your own opportunity to show your work, check out the DELVE Toolkit


From the institution's or organizing party's viewpoint, competitions and open calls are strategic ways to introduce your organization to a new audience and source amazing talent for a project. From your perspective there are a lot of pieces to consider, whether you are doing an open call for art work or a competition to hire new architects, including these:

your conceptual goal (why will talent be drawn to your project and how does it serve your overall mission), your audience, telling the story of your organization, budget, space, timeline, partnerships, judges (who will you enlist to draw in the work you want to see), branding, marketing, communication, event planning, and more. 

Organizing an Open Call or a Competition is a tall order and takes foresight and planning, but will ultimately serve you well and introduce you to work from around the globe you may have never come across. This sort of a project is also key in allowing you to interact more with a desired community, whether it be local or global. This is a really great article from GrantCraft, a service of the Foundation Center, that explores why using a Request for Proposals could benefit your organization. A major point they make is: "To be effective, a competition takes careful planning and execution, and it poses a number of out-of-the-ordinary administrative responsibilities. It's sometimes useful to enlist an outside organization to manage part or all of the process." Kind Aesthetic can help you. Check out this case study from a wonderful architectural competition called Ground/Work that we had the pleasure of working on. 


In conclusion, we are big fans of Open Calls and Competitions for both sides of the process. They are a powerful way to share your work, tell your story and create community, which are three of our favorite things to help people with at Kind Aesthetic. 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Why DELVE? The impact of community.

Last week, we hosted our ninth DELVE Networking event, on the topic Food + Art. That means that, so far, we have been in nine different amazing arts-related spaces all over the city (such as Made in NY Media Center by IFP, Cue Art Foundation, TSA Bushwick, and A.I.R. Gallery, just to name a few) and have invited 24 amazing artists, curators, designers and creatives to share their work and their paths as creative forces. Then there are all of you: the people who come to listen, learn, engage and share your own stories. It's been super fun, inspiring and educational. Our community has grown so much over the last 15 months of DELVE, and we wanted to take a minute to look back, reflect, and look forward to what all is to come!

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DELVE started as the series of networking events for artists and creatives in New York City described above, but it has grown to include bespoke workshops and our popular Toolkit. With DELVE, our goals are simple: to create community, to empower artists and creatives to hone the professional skills they need to put their best work into the world, and to inspire ourselves and others to take action on projects that truly matter.

DELVE workshops create an inspiring environment of exchange by instigating conversation in a productive environment, nurturing seeds of ideas into coherent thoughts, and providing ample suggestions and resources on how to best communicate your art practice with the world.  Everyone who attends our workshops is meant to share what he/she does, because through this act of sharing and community building, great opportunities can arise. We also have great hand-outs, worksheets, presentations, imagery and fun stories to share. Sometimes we invite guest speakers to come and inspire everyone even more.

With our toolkit, we specialize in helping you—the talented artist or creative entrepreneur—build sustainable skills to assure that your work is best represented to the world: online, in writing and in person. We work with you one-on-one to maximize your potential and develop and maintain long-lasting productive habits. The results? You acquire some kick-ass tools and learn how to use them effectively, so that your creative practice gets to a confident, productive place.

The best part of having the workshops and toolkit be an outgrowth of the networking events is that we are constantly growing our community and helping people get the tools they need in order to create opportunities for themselves and others. By being able to effectively communicate what you do as an artist or creative, you open doors to new collaborations, projects, and more. DELVE has grown into a wonderful community, and we love that anyone can attend our events because amazing things can grow out of a little sharing and conversation. All of the motivation and talent we witness is a huge inspiration, and if you haven't joined us for a DELVE event yet, we hope you will soon!

Click here to learn more about how the DELVE toolkit can help you, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!


© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Step away from your computer! Network in person.

We all spend a lot of time looking at screens. Screens are part of our workdays, connecting on social media, reading the news, sharing information. They are our best friends and sometimes our worst enemies. But there really is no better way to connect and meet people than a good old fashioned face-to-face. (A phone call comes in at a close second.) 

This great article on the Etsy blogTop Tips for Building a Creative Network by Casey Sibley, has a lot of great information in it. One of the key take-aways is this:

You may be hesitant to put yourself out there before you feel ready, or before you’ve perfected [your] product. When I started my business, I was terrified to tell people about it, fearful that they would think I was a total weirdo for wanting to start a creative business. But networking in person early and often will help build your confidence. Over time, I’ve found that most people are very supportive, and often admire that I am pursuing something that I love to do.

We often work with creative entrepreneurs who work alone, or in a small team, and a new business venture or even a new product needs moral support to take off, as well as financial support, a clear voice and strong visuals. Explaining your goals in person is often most effective, and doing so will help light that fire to move forward. And yes, if you are making a transition from a 9-5 corporate environment to a creative business, it can feel very, very weird. So there's no better way than to start getting your idea out there in the world to see how it sticks. It sounds scary and kind of annoying, but always ultimately fun. That's networking.

Wanting to give people the opportunity to meet in person is one of the many reasons we started DELVE Networking events around New York City. Our next one is July 22nd in Dumbo at Made in NY IFP Media Center and we'll be exploring Food + Art. We'll be sharing more about it soon, but get your tickets now before it's too late. Some amazing speakers are lined up and we can't wait to spend the evening with you! Summer's a great time to start sharing your new products, projects and business ideas with friends and like-minded people in person– the energy is high and the nights are long. And if you want want to chat about telling your story in the most clear and compelling way with stunning visuals, say hello.

See you on July 22nd in Dumbo and feel free to leave your favorite networking tips and insights below!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.