Artist’s Communities vs Mastermind Groups

I continue to ruminate on the idea of artist’s communities and in particular what does it take to build and sustain an effective group. I was surprised to find relatviely little written on this topic until I asked, and answered for myself, the following questions:

  • What do you get out of it?
  • What do you contribute to the group?
  • What is the optimal size of such a group?

How would you answer these questions?

For me this kind of group would provide both support and accountability. It would provide me with access to experience that I currently don’t have, to feedback about current directions that I’m heading in and provide me with the impetus to keep going.

In addition to being generally supportive of others in the group I would imagine that in such a group everyone has overlapping skills but expertise in specific areas. Each member could as requested teach and share their unique expertise with the rest of the group to help all move forward.

I always feel as though if you are at dinner with a group of more than 6 you really only interact with your nearest neighbors anyway, ~ 5 others, so this is the right number for a dinner party for me and it feels about the right size to me for one of these artists groups.  Small enough to be able to really know the other people in the group.

After unpacking this for myself I realized that what I was describing was what is now commonly referred to as a ‘mastermind group’, something that most people trace back to Napoleon Hill’s book ‘Think and Grow Rich’. I read this book 15 years ago and had a quick skim through it again when I was writing this. The language is archaic, making it hard work to get through.

Hill was of course focused on how you can accumulate money and the mastermind group was a tool that would let you develop and vet your plans with a team of people that complemented your skills. Not quite what I had in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of ‘to help you develop mastery and achieve your goals‘.

4 thoughts on “Artist’s Communities vs Mastermind Groups

  1. I think the bigger problem with the groups is whether they are up to your skill level or not. I find usually they are not (whether writers or photographers). It’s full of people who want to know how I did it, not people who can do the give and take to solve problems. It’s frustrating and speaks poorly to people who don’t want to learn and experiment for themselves.


    • This certainly can be an issue – particularly if you feel like you’re giving more to the group than you’re getting in return.

      The hippy in me however would like to believe that everyone has something to offer and even newbies if they are asking ‘why’ instead of ‘how’ can generate interesting questions.

      • You are right – people can be beginners and ask really good questions out of curiosity. I learned a lot from fellow bloggers who answered my questions about things, from how they got their blogs to look a certain way to some photography technique that I admired. I answer questions for others, to pass on the kindnesses that I was given.

        It’s frustrating though when you read some of the forums, such as on Adobe, to where people are asking the same questions over and over without even looking to see if it’s been asked and answered before. That’s what I was thinking of when I left the comment.

      • That makes total sense. In many ways this post is a reaction to the shallow interactions that you often find in forums, on Flickr and elsewhere.

        Where does one go to get meaningful feedback on your work? To engage in thoughtful discussion?

        Thanks for adding to the discussion.

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