Over the past few years and most recently, within the last few weeks, several artists have contacted me for advice in regards to partnering and giving back to nonprofit organizations. I have never thought of myself as a mentor, in fact, I seek out and am in search of a mentor myself. But in this particular case, I feel inclined to help out my fellow artist. More importantly, I feel the pull to help other like-minded people who are interested in creating art for the greater good of the world.
Although I don’t necessarily (ever) follow a line-item formula, per se, about how I begin to make these things happen, I do have a loose process by which these connections are made. For the most part, it is an intuitive process for me but I’m going to try my best to disseminate this information so that more people are able to give back through the production of their work.
Generally speaking, I have a vision about what I plan to paint at least a year in advance. This can actually be a problem for me because, by the time I am approaching a new series, I am already thinking about the series after the one that I have not even begun to paint (which is a whole separate issue I have with slowing down my process and thoughts). Regardless of this fact, I am always mentally prepared and ready with a visualization about where I am headed in a series.
Once I have devised a plan of visual attack, I begin to think about how my new series can align to help others. I ask myself a series of questions. A sample of some of these questions are as follows:
- How would this series benefit others?
- Who will be attracted to this type of work or genre?
- What is my purpose?
- What is my angle?
- Where do I envision my work hanging?
- What palette will I use?
- What sort of perspective will I take?
- What will be the invitation piece?
Usually, I dive into a few paintings after I have begun to ask and answer a few of these questions. Once I have a few pieces under my belt, I begin to research organizations that align with my vision. Depending on my current subject matter, I find a non-profit that has an equal alignment with my current body of work. I usually being with an email to the director, introducing myself as an artist as well as laying out the vision that I have in mind for the opening. It is during this initial email that I offer the non-profit up to 20% of my proceeds from all sales of the work in that particular series. I can say unequivocally that I have been met 100% of the time with open arms from these organizations. Not only am I giving them exposure through social media outlets, but I am also offering them free money that they would have not otherwise come across without my pursuing them. Generally speaking, they reply with the request to meet with me in person.
Whenever possible (and unless the non-profit is overseas) I always meet with whomever I am partnering with at the time. This not only enriches my experience with the series but also allows them to put a name with a face. During these meetings, I take tours of facilities, learn more about the organization, and always come up with additional ideas for the opening and partnership. It is at this time when we discuss possible dates for the opening of the show, cross-marketing efforts, and promotional ideas from both sides. Building a relationship with the organization will not only enrich (and possibly change) your life but it will open you up to other limitless connections around the world that you may have never experienced without it. Moreover, it gives you accountability, deadlines, and pressure in order to reach goals that you could otherwise let fall by the wayside. As an added bonus and not to be ignored, I have also found that collectors seem more inclined to purchase a piece that they not only love but that also has a humanitarian cause associated with it. It allows there to be a connection between you as the artist, the artwork itself, and to the greater good of humanity.
For me, painting has always seemed a bit self-serving. Over the years, my creative process has not only become my therapy but has also provided me with a means for which I connect to the world around me. The art of giving back to others has become an extension of my artistic endeavor and my personal way in which I now tap into the deep compassion I have for the love for children, women, education, and the environment. Since 2011, my mission in life has been in complete alignment with my passion in life, and because of this connection, I feel forever grateful and blessed.