Writing in Oaxaca by Henry Rael

Michelle Otero is declaring her commitment to writing a memoir, Vessels, for the remainder of December and into January. Her focus hasn’t come easy, what with sharing a lively house with her novio, Henry, and his two children. Michelle writes in her wonderful blog about sharing an office with Henry (who works at home a lot) with “big Sony headphones over my ears, my laptop set to “Spirit of the Rainforest” on Pandora to tune out Henry’s conference calls.” While she knows that “this arrangement worked much better than not writing,” she still “craved a room of my own.” As artists, don’t we all?

Enter ArtSpark, and specifically a fellow ArtSpark artist Suzanne Sbarge, executive director of 516 ARTS and curator of the first ArtSpark project, STREET ARTS, that was extensively featured in this blogspace. At a meeting of ArtSpark artists and arts organizations last Sunday, Michelle barely let slip her need for a studio space when Suzanne offered the guesthouse on the property where she and her husband, Rufus Cohen, live. And (this is one of the best parts…) they all live in the same part of town, ABQ’s south valley. Neighbors!

Brian Camelio, founder of ArtistShare (check it out), wrote an article this summer about the “Art of the Artist to Fan Relationship,” exploring the essence of relationship building between artists and the fans who love them. Brian writes about knowing what you’re trying to accomplish as an artist, and how to engage existing fans and draw in new ones.

The artist to fan relationship is what ArtSpark’s strategies are all about – whether the fan is an audience member, a patron, someone who blogs about you (or writes comments on your blog), even someone who is be critical of your artistic work (provided that they know what they’re talking about and the criticism is constructive…). We’re also finding out that online communication isn’t enough for many fans; they also want to get to know you face-to-face, in person.

Sometimes, as artists, we focus on our fans’ potential to come to our show or purchase our work. No big lesson here, but relationships based on two-way communication comes first. Donor fatigue happens quickly these days, while true connection sustains us through all stages of our artistic life.

So take some time to thank your fans without simultaneously asking them for financial support, invite them to a sneak peek of your creative process, encourage them to really talk with you and give you feedback. After all, those kinds of actions are what it’s ultimately all about.