The artists of any community in which they live have a choice. They can be part of the building of a strong arts culture in their area, or not. In my experience, I have found that artists who work together and learn from each other are stronger and better for the experience. Supporting each other is what we are supposed to be doing. Fostering a sense of community should be on the forefront of every artist‘s mind.

A strong creative community means opportunities for up-and-coming artists. It also means a vibrant sense of culture for everyone who is involved. I absolutely believe that what is good for one of us, is good for all of us. It is hard work and determination that will carry you to where you want to go, or where you need to be. The fear of rejection should not stop a creative person from trying.

Everyone has to start somewhere in any profession. We all start out pretty much the same when we are babies, and through development, we end up being who we are. Development does not stop at any age, especially for the creative part of a person's mind. If you are an artist, show people what you are doing, and let them experience what you are good at. Tell people about what you are doing and how you do it. The more you talk about your own art, the more confident you will be about it. A great place to talk about art is at a gallery opening, because people are there to look at art and socialize anyway.

I started out by painting in my basement, which I was lucky to have, but I was still dreaming of a workspace with natural light, plenty of room to spread out, plus a nice view out the window. If you are thinking about having a space where you can do your art on a larger scale than a basement, then you might want to look into urban spaces. Urban spaces are easier to afford, and these are traditionally the areas where galleries and creative shops open. I would highly encourage artists to group together and form co-ops where they can collectively use a space and share expenses. This comes with its own challenges and risk factors, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.

If you are lucky, you can get together with nice people and share an exciting challenge together. At the Court Street Gallery, Matt Lewis, Debbie Besanson, and myself share the expense of renting the space. We are renting our own studio spaces and an exhibition space on the second floor of a building in Old Town. Collectively we can afford to work in this space, but as individuals we would not be able to afford it. I did have my own space prior to starting this co-op and it was costing me more per month than my current Court Street Gallery studio.

It was a good experience to be on my own, but the experience of working next to other artists is a great chance for me to expand my knowledge. Matt is also a painter, and he has a different background and schooling than I do, so I have learned facts about his way of painting that I have found useful in my own work. Also, the time for thinking that there is nothing to do and there is nothing going on in this area is over. There are lots of venues within Flint, Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City.

My personal attention is going to be with Saginaw because that is where I live, and that’s where I am from. At the same time, I go to events in Flint, Midland, and Bay City to help represent the arts community from Saginaw. My own career choice has been to continue to do my art, and be as successful at it as I can, and at the same time, encourage and promote other artists around me. I decided that the best way I can help my community is by helping those around me.

Paolo Giovanni Pedini