Finding Your Tribe

Do you have a tribe? Do they surround you, or are they scattered out in the world? How did you find them? I’m realizing that I’m gathering my art tribe in bits, at home and away.

It started with a trip to Scotland. Well, of course, it started before that, as many stories do, but once I’d jumped into the deep end on Twitter, and sent a piece off to an international fundraiser, the now-famous #twitterartexhibit started by David Sandum, anything seemed possible.

Misted: Digital collage © 2010 Liz RuestSo, I jumped in again the next year, and sent a piece off to Trevor Jones in Edinburgh, one of my first tree prints, Misted, to support a forest charity. Except this time, I wanted to go to the show! Luckily, I have a girlfriend who thinks travelling is fun & easy, and off we went, to a glorious November weekend in Edinburgh, a day late for the show opening thanks to the perils of standby travel, but in the city nevertheless. Trevor was kind enough to meet us off-hours and show us the space and his work. To meet a fellow Canadian artist, relocated to Scotland, AND see a red dot on my piece in a city so far away? So exciting!

ianrawnsleyOn a return trip to Scotland, I made a point to connect with another Twitter contact, Ian Rawnsley, in Glasgow, and bought one of his lovely landscapes, after a great chat over coffee, commiserating on the life of an artist. On yet another visit to Scotland, when we finally made it to the Isle of Skye, I definitely had to meet Marion Boddy-Evans in Portree, right? Another Twitter connection leading to a lovely chat, a gallery tour, and lots of note-comparing on making art and putting it out in the world.

Mixed-media art by Patti Agapi
Mixed-media art by Patti Agapi

Several family trips lent themselves to more tribe gathering. This spring, passing through my old stomping grounds in Ontario, I was able to run into Patti Agapi, originator of  the infamous #collage365 project that has propelled so much of my work, and bring home one of her wonderful pieces, left.  Then, over the summer, when sad family news sent us to England, I looked up David Smith in Bridport, a stalwart #collage365 companion. A gracious host, he gave me insight into his regional art world in his beautifully-lit studio.

Edmonds Art Walk, July 2016
Edmonds Art Walk, July 2016

Travel isn’t necessary, of course. Here at home,  I’ve gathered community everywhere I touch down: work, school, associations. There are the wonderful people at artEAST in Issaquah, my critique group that grew from there, and folks I meet at art walks around the region. Each neighborhood seems to have a gallery, an art association, or a regular event to check out, and if not, meetup.com has so many options, including creating your own. The trick, for an introvert like me, is daring to take on big crowds in the hope of seeing a familiar face or name, and making a connection. What works for you, when you’re looking for your tribe?

Chime in!