As creatives we are always looking for the next thing to work towards. There are often many ideas floating through our heads and most of them tend to stay there, or maybe get jotted down in a notebook or journal. Here are my tips for taking ideas and connecting it to opportunities to distil the important ideas into reality.
Image: Julie Middleton, Fiona Dyer and I at the opening of our exhibition "3 Cups Full" at Childers Art Space last November.. Photography - Sabrina Lauriston
1. Conversations within a circle of trust
Do you have a trusted circle of artists and/or creative thinkers? We can often get so precious about our ideas that we don't share them at all. I highly recommend finding this group of people that you are happy to share your ideas with and tease them out. Get some different perspectives. It will help you to weed out the less feasible ideas or sometimes take you on a completely different path.
2. Get out and network
Grow your network so that you can find more of these thinkers that you enjoy teasing out ideas with - expand your circle of trust. So how do you network?
Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Networking often begins with a single point of common ground.
The above definition is certainly about networking with a purpose. You need to know what it is that you are aiming to achieve through networking before you can identify how to go about building your network. Do you want to build your circle of trust and find those like-minded people? Or do you have a larger strategic goal, like connecting with people who may be able to leverage you resources? I refer to these people as partners.
A great starting point is to find local events that you can attend that have people attending that might be able to fulfil these goals. Is an exhibition opening, a gig, workshop or conference? Would attending a local business or tourism sector meeting connect you to the right people?
Sometimes, networking is far less strategic. It can be the incidental conversations that create unpredicted opportunity. You need to go prepared with how much of your ideas you are willing to share and stay within your boundaries, but you just never know who you might find.
3. Find the right partners
Invest time in the long burn. Sometimes partnerships can take years to bear fruit. You may not even identify how it is that you can work together until the right idea develops. But if there is some sort of synergy between your values and those of a potential partner, keep the conversation going.
The key is finding partners with a values match. It could be a corporate sponsor or a fellow artist that you are partnering with. You need to be on the same page in order to mutually benefit from a partnership so dig deep into finding this match on values you won't compromise in your creative practice.
4. Test and try
I always recommend finding ways of testing the viability of your idea. We did this for the "3 Cups Full" exhibition that is pictured above. Julie, Fiona and I came together around Julie's idea for us to have a reunion exhibition 30 years after we last graduated and exhibited together. We tested the validity of our idea by:
having regular online meetings (we live in different parts of Queensland) to talk through our concepts and setting our selves artwork development challenges
applying to exhibit at a targeted gallery to see if our idea would be accepted - and it was
Spending 2 weeks together at a residency in Bundaberg where we got to share skills, ideas and collaborate to bring together our ideas for the exhibition
All of these processes helped to refine our idea into a quality outcome that we were all satisifed with. What methodologies could you introduce to test and try your ideas that are relevant to your area of creative practice?