Building a peer mentoring group

Deciding which artists you are going to invite to be participate in your peer mentoring group is a balance between inviting ones you feel comfortable sharing work-in-progress with, and using it as an opportunity to build new relationships with others you might not know personally, but whose practices you admire and feedback you’d value.

PEER FORUM 2019 at Camden Arts Centre group photo

PEER FORUM 2019 at Camden Arts Centre group photo

In our experience, the ideal group size is about 10 – 15 artists. This number is means that even if some can’t attend a meeting, there are enough to get feedback from a good range of perspectives.

It may be useful to build a group with shared conceptual, thematic or technical concerns. You may also need to consider the geographical location of members to ensure its feasible for them to make it to meetings.

If initially you can only think of a couple of people to invite, ask them to suggest others based on your criteria and soon you’ll have enough group members. This is a great way of meeting new recommended artists and expanding your networks.

It’s usually better to choose people from your personal network of friends and professional acquaintances (or through their trusted recommendations), so you know members interests and reliability. You ideally want participants who are informed and friendly. This will help make the sessions informal, relaxed and enjoyable whilst maintaining a rigorous level of discussion and feedback on finished work and work-in- progress.

Artists who might most benefit from having regular contact with other practitioners through a peer mentoring group are often the ones that are more isolated in their practice. If you don’t feel you know many other artists, places that you might find or meet them, could be:

  • Artists you may have exhibited or worked with directly in the past
  • Through recommendations of other potential peer group members
  • Through Exchange: Artquest’s online community
  • At gallery openings and events
  • Your studio (if you have one) or other open studio events
  • Other open crit sessions

When inviting artist members to be part of the group:

  • Give a brief explanation of what peer mentoring is and why it’s useful
  • Explain what the purpose or focus of the group is
  • Outline who else has been invited to participate (or has been confirmed)
  • Say why you think it makes sense for them to be part of the group (what do they / their practices have in common with other group members)
  • Ask them for suggestions of other artist members to invite if appropriate
  • Establish their availability for an initial planning meeting with other members
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