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Awards & Artistic Opportunities: Navigating Life’s Distractions With Your Network

Image: a clip of 'Napoleon's Garden' by Malti B lee a line drawn image of Chateau de Fontainbleu on top of psychadelic abstract background and a painted wildflower garden. Text: Awards & artistic opportunities while navigating life's distractions. Malti B Lee maltiblee.com

In the whirlwind of life’s many demands, from organizing a wedding in under 3 months to purchasing my first home, my personal life has been the center of my attention lately. Amidst these significant life changes, I’ve had to make tough decisions about how I allocate my time between my art studio and building my art business.

As I pause to reflect on my professional journey and its achievements, I find myself pleasantly surprised by the milestones and accolades I’ve achieved during this seemingly chaotic period. What’s more intriguing is that these successes happened while I was navigating distractions and responsibilities. This revelation has prompted me to consider the structural aspects of how I’ve approached my art career, which have ultimately set me up for success. In this post, I’d like to share with you the key insights I’ve gathered along the way.

My Recent Achievements and Awards:

Indulge me as I take a moment to celebrate what I’m proud of!

  • Secured a design project for a local sports team (stay tuned for more details!)
  • Earned a scholarship from the City of San Jose for a 10-week Business of Art course
  • Received ArtSpan’s SFOS Equity Grant
  • Featured on the podcast “Work, Life, No Balance”
  • Invited to participate in an art exhibition alongside four other talented artists

The Secret to These Opportunities? My Artistic Network and Community

All these opportunities, without exception, were discovered or extended to me because of the relationships I’ve built within the artistic network and community. Building these relationships wasn’t always easy, especially as my husband and I moved to the Bay Area under 2 years ago with just a handful of acquaintances in the tech industry and none in the art world. So, where did I start in building these valuable connections?

1. Volunteering

Volunteering has always been a part of my journey, from joining the Executive Committee of a UK-registered charity as a youth member to promoting STEM in schools. Upon arriving in the United States, I wanted to leverage my skills and experiences while meeting like-minded individuals. Over the past year, I’ve become deeply involved in several organizations, serving as co-chair of genARTS Silicon Valley, a board member of Silicon Valley Visual Artists (the team behind Silicon Valley Open Studios), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Art Docents of Los Gatos.

Art Docents of Los Gatos at our Annual Art Show 2023

2. Joining local organisations

They say that it takes at least 50 hours of interaction for someone to transition from being an acquaintance to a casual friend. To bridge this gap, I joined a couple of local arts organizations that host regular events, ranging from virtual workshops to in-person meet-ups. One of my earliest affiliations was with ArtSpan in San Francisco, and more recently, I became a founding member of the Indian American Artists Association.

3. Regular attendance at art openings & events

My commitment to building relationships led me to attend art openings and events regularly. I made it a point to attend at least one opening or exhibition event every two weeks. I’d muster the courage to introduce myself to fellow art enthusiasts, looking for common ground to start a conversation. Over time, I began to see familiar faces at these events, and bonds formed through our shared passion for art. There’s something magical about consistency and the effort invested in showing up.

genARTS Silicon Valley Executive Committee at a planning session
genARTS Silicon Valley Executive Committee Planning Session, 2023

4. Connecting with like-minded individuals on social media

As I shared my artwork with the world on social media, I started to connect with new people and rekindle old acquaintanceships. When something resonated with me in their posts, I’d send a message to express my appreciation and why it struck a chord with me. These spontaneous but genuine interactions unexpectedly opened doors to opportunities, especially when it came to invitations to podcasts (yes, I’m a podcast enthusiast).

In Summary

The importance of investing time in building genuine relationships cannot be overstated. When life got hectic, I knew where to turn for guidance and opportunities because of the meaningful connections I had nurtured. These friends recommended opportunities for me to apply for or simply vouched for me as an artist to others. Without the time spent cultivating these friendships and sharing openly and authentically, I doubt that the last few months of my life, focused on personal matters, would have been accompanied by such a wealth of achievements.

As an introvert, I understand the exhaustion that can come from networking and putting yourself out there. But I can attest that it’s not only necessary but also tremendously rewarding. It pays off in ways you might not even anticipate.

So, if you’re on a similar journey or contemplating how to advance your career while balancing life’s demands, remember that your network and the relationships you build can be the wind beneath your wings. Don’t underestimate the power of genuine connections in propelling you toward your goals.

I love the connections from sharing authentically – I invite you to send me a message/ leave a comment and share your experiences & what resonates most.

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