Finding an Art Mentor (and Getting the most out of the Relationship)
Are interested in having a mentor in your life or business? Learn how to find the right mentor while preparing yourself so you get the most out of the relationship. More importantly, before you set out on this journey there are a few things to consider to determine if you are ready.
As you set out on this journey, ask yourself if you are ready to fully commit to yourself, your creativity, and your business. You also need to be in a mental space where you are able to develop a professional relationship, receive feedback, and take action. Below are a few strategies to find the right mentor as well as get the most out of your work together.
Finding the Right Mentor
Before you reach out and ask someone to be your mentor, start with observation and engagement. Simple ways to engage include sign up for their newsletter, take their courses, get to know their art making. This step is important to get a feel for the mentor’s style and approach to both art-making and business management.
A common myth is that your mentor needs to work in the same medium as you. This only needs to be the case if you want to develop your art-making in a particular media or style. In this type of relationship, you may be looking for an apprenticeship rather than a mentor.
Asking for a Mentorship
Determine why you want to work with this mentor. Figuring out your “why” can make a case for why a mentoring relationship is perfect right now and between the both of you.
Know that timing is key. Just because you’re ready to work with this mentor, doesn’t mean they are ready to take on a protegee. Creative mentors are also making and producing work, having exhibits or residencies, or maybe already have a protegee they are working with. If this situation comes up, it could be a sign to find a different mentor. Otherwise, feel free to ask if mentoring is something they would consider in the future and when would be a good time to reconnect. When you get a response, plunk in a date on the calendar so you remember to follow up.
When approaching a mentor, having a shared entry point is also a great way to start a conversation with them. Mention that you have taken their course or attended their art show, or perhaps approach them at an event and introduce yourself.
I’ve had approaches for mentorship and people aren’t ready. The artists don’t know what they want and don’t understand what a mentoring relationship and expectations looks like.
Your mentor may have a system, plan, or template for how the mentorship relationship is built. Here are some great questions to ask as you determine what you need to bring to the table:
- Ask their style and their expectations of you as a protegee
- Length of the mentorship.
- Cost of mentorship, payment transaction format, and frequency of payment
- Know additional support agreements: When can you get in contact with your mentor or coach and in what way (email or call) and how often?
In addition to determining the expectations of the mentor-protegee relationship, it’s important to determine the clear goals or outcomes you desire when working with a mentor.
While your mentor is there to support, guide, and advise, you are responsible for completing your goals and outcomes. Be careful to not give too much credit to the mentor or criticize the mentor for not doing enough. You are a part of the relationship and transformation as well. The biggest transformations are the ones where you show up for and you take the necessary steps forward to reach your outcomes. You are in charge of your growth, so ask the good questions, do the work outside the mentorship session, and execute the suggestions and advice your mentor provides.
What Art School Didn’t Teach You has a mentorship opportunity for artists, creatives, and small business owners who are ready to commit. More information can be found on the Mentorship Page. Take some time to review the opportunity and let’s schedule a call to see if this is a good fit.