Even though artists need their solitude and tend to think of themselves as introverts, they also crave the community of other artists, want interactions with like-minded souls, and need a “place to go” that functions as a cross between a salon and a support group. Yet such places have historically rarely existed and continue to only rarely exist.
Such places tend not to exist for many reasons, among them that groups do not form of their own accord, that when something like a salon does come into existence it tends to get dominated by the more narcissistic and self-centered members in the group, and because it is hard for the folks involved to know why the group has gathered: to drink, to complain, to socialize, to flirt, to critique, to see who can make the biggest impression, or what?
It’s easy to see why a “leaderless gathering” of, say, Picasso, Matisse, George Luks (whose primary fun in life was to start fights in bars and who was beaten to death as a result), Utrillo (drunk, of course), his mother Suzanne Valadon (who wore bunches of carrots and dragged a mare about Montmartre, a mare that she would periodically stop to milk), and other artists from the turn of the last century would not amount to a support group! Indeed, mayhem would probably break out in two minutes’ flat.
At the same time, artist support groups are very much needed. They can help with isolation and loneliness and can serve as a place, maybe the only place in an artist’s life, where everyday challenges like marketplace difficulties, creative blocks and problems with mood can get aired. They can actually function effectively—but only if they are facilitated by someone who keeps the group on target and who makes sure that participants feel safe.
Some leaderless groups, like writing critique groups and Artist Way study groups, work well, though even there one person usually does the organizing, serves as the driving force and operates as the de facto leader. Occasionally leaderless support groups modeled on the 12-Step programs and going by the name of Artists Anonymous (not to be confused with the London/Berlin artist collective of the same name!) are formed, but these are hard to find and usually vanish quickly. As a rule, leaderless support groups are unlikely to create themselves out of thin air and unlikely to survive if they do come into existence. Groups of this sort tend to need a trained facilitator.
Who is the right person to facilitate such a group? Probably no one is better qualified than a creativity coach. Now that there is a profession called creativity coaching and trained creativity coaches who specialize in the issues that creative and performing artists face, more artist support groups will doubtless appear. Next week I’ll describe how such a group functions and how you can get the most out of one. Stay tuned for that!
I have led such groups, both in actual rooms and in cyberspace, and they function beautifully. So it turns out that it is not impossible for artists to support one another and to play nicely together <smile>! If you want to acquire the skills to become a creativity coach and lead such groups yourself, join my trainings that begin in February. If you want to join my new artist support group that starts January 2013, do come on board! It may make all the difference in how next year plays out for you.
To learn more about my creativity coaching trainings:
To learn more about my new artist support group and to join:
If you’re interested in the support group, please hurry. The group is limited to 12 participants!