Artists navigate two seemingly conflicting paths. On one hand, the torchbearers are expected to light the way toward individuality and cultural relevance. But the realities of making a living in the visual arts can often seem tenuous at best. Local artist Aimee Cardoso has been navigating that path for five years since graduating with a bachelor’s in studio art from Messiah College.
She is currently the tour and docent administrator for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, executive director of the artist-driven nonprofit Art Tooth, and the first recipient of the Turner House prize. Cardoso offered this advice and insight to artists in the early stages of their careers.
PC: Aimee Cardoso by Julio Cedillo
1. Get Involved
Museums and galleries, she said, are generally focused on established artists.
“You have to find a way to get involved” outside of that existing structure, she said. “Go to art events — every gallery night, every underground opening. You will meet people. Everything evolves from that.”
Putting a face to a name, she said, is as important now as was for past generations. After that, make an effort to help other artists and collectives. Fort Worth, she said, expects artists to support their kinfolk. Many young painters take low-paying, entry-level jobs at local museums and galleries just to be around like-minded creatives. It’s not a bad idea, Cardoso said, especially if the aim is to “find the connections you need to get where you need to be.”
2. Get Social
Social media apps, especially Instagram, can be useful platforms for reaching potential customers while networking with fellow artists.
“Social media is a great way to find people,” she said. “For our [Art + Collective] shows, we found many of [our featured artists] through social media, including upcoming artist Katie Jones. She followed us (@arttooth). I liked the way she represented herself and her posts.”
Cardoso recommends having an artist page that’s separate from personal Instagram pages. Post images regularly so visitors feel you are making work constantly, she added.
3. Connect with Community
Institutions like the Kimbell Art Museum and private businesses like M2G Ventures are supporting and spotlighting the important work creatives provide to Fort Worth’s cultural landscape through public lectures and expansive mural commissions. While charities and collectives have historically stepped in to offer support and exhibitions for young artists, there remains a need for public and private funding. Those small investments pay off in big ways, Cardoso said. Art Tooth’s one-year residency at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center has shown her how much value the community space provides to the city, even with its tight budget.
PC: Walt Burns
4. Hang with the Artists
So where can visitors and locals rub elbows with Fort Worth’s creatives?
“Coffee shops,” she said with a laugh. “They go to Craftwork and Ampersand. Taco Heads for sure and then there’s West Magnolia Avenue and Blackhouse.”
Fort Worth is a destination for creatives, Cardoso said, partly because of its quirky mix of Texas traditions and artistic institutions.
“Fort Worth is the epitome of Texas,” she said. “You can go down the street and see people on horses [and the other way], you can view one of the largest modern art collections in the country. You can’t beat that juxtaposition. I think we put on some awesome shows.”