Artists Need To Discover Camaraderie

Camaraderie and effective leadership often found in winning sports teams can benefit the dynamics of many other groups in our society.

Culture, Philosophy

As an artist, I attend or participate in art events and have artist friends. An established artist friend of mine recently confided in me that his last show had been a disaster and that he felt like crashing and burning afterward. When I asked if he thought it was his art that failed him or that he’d gotten a poor response from the art going public, he shook his head no. Instead he replied that he felt his fellow artists were quite critical of his art, and offered little support. That they’d already rejected some of his art for the juried show for arbitrary reasons. And that they’d refused his help when he offered to find a better venue for the show that had superior lighting and location.

It struck me then that the art community is a tough crowd. Fragile egos combined with power-hungry cliquish types loathe to ceding any control to those with new ideas. All with only a little at stake. Not the gentrified bunch we’d all like to believe.

This story is a parable for a larger issue: why are people intolerant of others? Why are people inconsiderate of those who share the same interests and ends, and who may contribute to the group life in areas of weakness? Why do the group “elite” and the people who yell the loudest often times dominate the turf and ignore other players? The anecdote I started with is not unique to artists; we see the same thing replicated in many other groups of people, with varying levels of power struggle and stakes. Try thinking of your own stories in the corporate or academic world, or in government politics. True, it is human nature for some to be top dog, many times at the expense of those who might also benefit from mutual consideration and respect, but is this where we really want human nature to evolve to? What about fellow camaraderie, where we stop and listen to the ideas of others who have the same motivations and potential benefits? Wouldn’t that be more of a boost to the individual and to the group as a whole?

No, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not arguing for a collective hive mentality or worse yet, the diminishing of individualism over group welfare. I am not a socialist. But I am arguing for people to voluntarily adopt greater respect and consideration for their fellow counterparts, in any group structure, be it a group of artists or a group of academics or a group of corporate employees. While many people have limited freedom in the social or work groups they are a part of, many artists share complete freedom in choosing whom they associate with, and the benefits to the group are often similar: leveraged marketing and exposure to potential art buyers, shared costs for exhibit space, etc.

It is a shame to see many groups not flourish and profit because of poor group dynamics – again, often times at the mercy of poor leadership or a cliquish nucleus. Effective group leadership with a concerted effort to tap the ideas and strengths from group members is a concept that is replete in great sports teams – team camaraderie can go a long way to enriching both individual and group success.  I wish my artist friend had benefited from that. 

All written content is copyright owned by individual authors and/or All rights reserved.