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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Defining Moments, Part 1: “The Art of Networking Art”

By Sian Lindemann
Arts & Entertainment Editor

“Bob Emser is an international sculptor, having shown on 4 continents, 7 countries and in 27 states in the U.S. His extensive body of work, dating back to 1978, can be seen in cities and municipalities, sculpture parks, museums and institutions of higher learning. During his 30 year career he has served as a visiting artist and has taught at several universities, held a tenured professorship, and founded a not-for-profit art center that is still in existence. He has also served as executive director of Chicago’s international sculpture exhibition, Pier Walk. Currently he is the president of Chicago Sculpture International, the local affiliate of International Sculpture Center, on whose Board of Directors he sits. Emser focuses his full time efforts creating sculptures for public and private places.”

Artist / Sculptor/ Bob Emser

The Defining Moment

Bob Emser has no problem in maintaining a constant stream commissions. He is booked two years in advance, and from our conversation nearly two months ago, he talked with me about “The Defining Moment” that changed his life and his career.

While for some years living in a “state “ of reverence for artists he admired, respected, and wished to emulate, Bob remained in awe and in separation from those individuals.

Bob made a command decision.

It was at this time that he rented a tux, hopped a plane, and placed himself in the room of those sculptors who were being featured and were gathered at a major event in New York City. The event, was the (ISC) International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Now he was one AMONG those whose lives and works he had admired. It was a significant change in his thinking.

If he wanted to be considered as one of the best, he had to mingle and associate with those who were considered the best, and become a “peer.”

He is a member of the ISC and that is how he got invited to the event, and anyone can attend who is willing to pay the $500 a plate fee.

The first year was 2003 and he has attended every year since. He is now on the Board of Directors of this organization.

It changed his life. No longer separating himself, but becoming an active participant in this organization, and interacting with those whose achievements and talents he revered, he had become known and is now equally respected by those same people.

And look at the work….It IS spectacular.

Prairie Wind 2 / Bob Emser

The Art of Artist Networking

“Networking events for artists are merely a forum for meeting people and establishing relationships – what you do from there is really up to the artist. It’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to sell your art just by being part of a professional arts association.”

“The key is what you do with the relationships that you develop, how your cultivate them, and the process is a slow one. It may take several years for a relationship to turn into an art sale.”

“Unfortunately, many artists are not taught to foster these types of relationships – they need to learn the process. Here are a few tips…

  • Don’t just join an organization, BECOME a part of its leadership
  • You have more impact by being the person inviting the speaker than by sitting in the audience.
  • Keep track of your “touches” with a person you want to build a relationship with (It never happens from just one !)
  • In order to be counted you have to SHOW UP. Attend Gallery openings, conferences, and receptions.”

No Limit / Bob Emser, Sculptor

Leadership in One’s Industry

The conversation with Bob Emser continues to support the advocacy that I have stated over the last year and a half, writing for The National Networker.

Be IT now. It really is up to the artist to command their career, and as a teacher, mentor or leader in one’s industry, it offers many more opportunities to the individual to have access to those that can help one forward one’s career.

To contact Bob Emser,

Sian Lindemann

September 2008

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