This subject is close to my heart since so much of life is dictated by who’s in and who’s out. By definition a clique is the coming together of several people with like interests interacting exclusively with one another to the exclusion of others. So why should this interest me if artists are supposed to be loners?
I learned early in life it’s easier to belong than not. When I first became an artist I joined a local art group. In the beginning I found this group helpful. Through them I found the best prices for art supplies and where to find the fastest place to get a painting framed. They were even helpful in finding a local gallery. I was part of an art community with all its openings and get-togethers. The problem for me was how this clique mentality held me to a kind of group standard that was intolerant of individuality.
I know from experience, great art does not come from this kind of thinking. When I find myself trying too hard to fit in, it shows in my work. I see this as a problem for all of the arts. While ideas become contagious, they can also bring a kind of sameness to a group who limits themselves to similar opinions. The way I see it, the minute an idea catches on it’s time to move on from it.
In my own critiquing group, I find it essential to keep bringing in new artists. This brings a heightened energy to what might become stale or repetitive. It also brings in people with new eyes and different experiences. So I say, keep your mind open, become the best at what you do and keep working.