When it's who you know pt. 2

If you haven't read Part One yet, please go back and check it out :)

A'ight, we've established that friends are very important in this industry.  We've talked about where you should focus your energy.  Now, let's talk a bit about *how*.  This is obviously a huge topic, but hopefully I can hit the highlights.

First - YOU MUST BE AUTHENTIC.  Most people can tell a faker or a job-grubber a mile away, and there is very little more annoying.  If you're going to make friends with people, do it for real, because you want to know cool people, not for ulterior motives.  The plus side is, people who work where you want to work and do what you want to do tend to have a lot in common with you, so friendships don't tend to be that hard.

That being said - I don't care how much you think what someone does is cool, if you don't like them, don't try.  There have been several artists who I admired that I just didn't get along with, either for politics or personality or whatever.  Let those people go their own way, both of you will be happier for it.

One of the best things about art school friends is that you make them the same way you've been making friends your whole life....if I need to say more about that, it goes beyond the scope of a one-page blog post....work on being a bit more outgoing if you have trouble.

For other people, I'm always reminded of Kennedy's statement, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."  It totally applies.  For example, it's not a great idea to ask people you want to be friends with to look at your  portfolio, at least early on.  Ask to look at *their* portfolio, if they are at your same level thereabouts.  Ask if you can make suggestions if you have meaningful ones, or just be appreciative if you don't.  Friends ask to see, they don't ask to show.  If you have non-art related skills you can offer, so much the better!  I suck at fonts and graphic design, and I welcome any and all help on that front!  I, on the other hand, worked in data analytics for 10 years.  I can probably help your online marketing measurement.

Second - Don't make it about work.  Friends don't just talk about what they do.  I am friends with a visdev guy at Disney, and I've never shown him my portfolio.  We talk about data segmentation, and gaming systems via using stereotypes.  We have common interests beyond painting, and those things keep our relationship at a "mutual friend and respect" level, given that he is far ahead of me in his career.  In other words, find topics of discussion where you can be equally excited, engaged and communicate.  In other, other words - be interesting.  If all you can talk about is painting, you're kind of one-track and frankly, not that much fun to be friends with outside of a Facebook group on art.

Also, and it should be obvious - Don't ask for stuff unless you *really* need it.  No one likes a nunge, no one wants that broke friend that wants you to buy their lunch all the time.  Don't ask that guy doing storyboards for a job, or even help getting a job.  Be friends, and let them suggest you because they want to work with you.  It may feel less effective, but the reality is, I've seen a lot of burned bridges behind artists who don't do this, and it tends to bite them in the butt after a couple of years.


So, to recap:

  1. Be authentic and honest
  2. Show excitement over what they are doing instead of wanting them to be interested in you.
  3. Be an interesting person
  4. Let your friends help you as they are able, instead of asking.

All of these things work better in real-life than online in my opinion, so I recommend HIGHLY trying to find places you can talk to people face to face.  Get out of your studio, go to a drink and draw, hit up some conventions, check out Meetup.com groups in your area, and ultimately, if you can, move close to where you want to work.


If you have any other suggestions for techniques, I would love to hear them :)  What's worked for you?  What HASN'T worked for you,or others you've seen?


Thanks for reading, and if you found it interesting or helpful, please share :)