Artists Salon

How to Start an Artist Salon

Imagine this: You’re working in your studio. You’re thinking about art, art business, and all the things. Some good ideas hit you, you jot them down for later. But later never really comes. Over time, your notebook fills up. The ideas become overwhelming. You’re wondering, which ideas are best? What is working for other artists in your area?

Wonder no more. Enter the Artist Salon.

What is an Artist Salon?

The history of the Artists Salon goes back to the 1600s. It’s nothing new. Historically, salons were gatherings of intellectuals and creatives for the purpose of exchanging ideas.

Contemporary artist salons are similar. Artists and creatives gather to exchange ideas, discuss or critique their art, and help each other excel in their art businesses. Some Art Salons host guest speakers and art shows. The Salon is part accountability group, part mastermind, and part art community.

Art salon members are typically varied. From experienced Artists who are seeking community, to new artists wishing to learn more about art business, each member of the Salon brings a unique perspective. Topics discussed include art-making, marketing, social media, commissions, handling galleries and clients, and more.

Smaller Art Salons also act as an accountability group. Each member is given time to bring up their current art issues and receive suggestions from the group. Each member states one thing they will do before the next meeting when they will report their progress. This is very effective for staying motivated.

How to Start an Artist Salon

If starting an artist salon sounds pretty great, there’s good news. Starting an artist salon is easy. There are 9 steps to start an artist salon:

  1. Narrow down the purpose of your art salon. For example, will you focus on art business? Will you help each other evolve your artistic style? Of course, your club will likely change its focus over time, but it is best to start off with a solid intention so that artists are clear why they are joining.
  2. Choose the size of your art salon. A small art salon can be more intimate, and therefore more able to address each member’s individual needs. It is also easier to schedule a smaller group. On the other hand, a larger group may offer more perspectives.
  3. Decide what category of artists you wish to invite to your salon. Having artists that work in similar media would be beneficial if you intend to do salon critiques. Howver, some diversity may be better if you are more interested in general art business, the artist’s medium may be irrelevant. You may also wish to limit your group by some other factor. Examples include art salons for Retired Artists, Self-Taught Artists, or Second Career Artists. It’s important to create a group that you have a lot in common with, but also room for diversity which will bring fresh perspectives.
  4. Select a Meeting Time for your Artist Salon. Most artists’ salons meet once a month. Smaller groups may be able to meet more often. Whatever you choose, select a schedule that works for you, and then be ready to adjust as you gather your members.
  5. Decide where you will have your meetings. Artist Salons are traditionally held in the members’ homes. Sometimes on a rotating basis. However, a nearby Art Center, Community Center or Park would work just as well. Online is another alternative with apps like Zoom and Google Meet.
  6. Decide if you will charge fees to be a member. Membership dues are a great way for the salon members to purchase food for the meetings or to hire speakers. However, keep in mind that many Art Salons are free to the artist.
  7. Decide who will run each meeting. Since you are the one starting this salon, it makes sense that you run the first meeting. But going forward, you may decide to switch off with one or more of the members.
  8. Set an agenda for your First Salon Meeting. When you begin to invite artists to the Salon meetings, they will want to know what topics are on the agenda. Your invitees will be more excited to come to the first meeting if they know what to expect.
  9. Invite Artists to Attend Your First Meeting. Once you’re ready to start inviting artists to the first meeting, decide if you want to personally make the invites yourself, or allow the invited guests to extend invitations to others. If you want to create a large group, you could also advertise it online with apps like Facebook, Craigslist or Meetup.

What to Do at Art Salon’s First Meeting

  1. Ask Each Artist to introduce themself and tell the group what they do. Since one of the purposes of an artist salon is to create community, introductions and ice breakers are a good way to get started.
  2. Discuss Ground Rules with your art salon members, making sure to get feedback. For example, some art salons may want to make a privacy rule. This would be especially important if your salon will discuss touchy subjects like art finances, problems with galleries or clients, or artistic critques.
  3. Ask the Artists to Brainstorm Topics that they would like to address during salon meetings. Keep a running list so that your planned meetings are compelling enough to keep up attendance.
  4. Announce the next meeting’s topics before you adjourn. This will give the artists plenty of time to think about the next topic, and bring whatever questions and/or ideas they have.
  5. Schedule Your Next Salon Meeting. Be sure to let your members know when the next meeting will be, as well as the topic(s). Giving your members time to prepare will help your meetings run smoothly.

Final Take Away

Starting an artist’s salon is a cost-effective and efficient way to create both community and a valuable art business resource. The steps to creating a salon are easy, it’s just a matter of finding like-minded artists.