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Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists
The earth was once teeming with super-predators that were contemporaries of man: Columbian mammoths, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, cave hyenas, and the American lion held sway. Even a small group of humans was in trouble when meeting one of those. As a rule, no one hunted alone—not humans, and not even THOSE fearsome creatures. But we’re here, and they’re not, and it’s not because of an asteroid. It’s because we formed networks, worked together, and then we went out and ate them. We turned the wilderness into the Applebee’s of its day. Consequently, over the centuries, the game got smaller—now, people hunt for deer and squirrels, or we raise chickens and grill hamburgers. Obviously, it was once a LOT more interesting. 

When the game could still eat us, we went out as bands of hunters, each with different roles—some scouts, some rear guards—making sure the prey didn’t double back, some making noise and creating distractions, and some with spears. We were staking everything on the hunt: our lives and whether or not we got to eat. We staked everything on success, but also on EACH OTHER. Trying to take down a mammoth by yourself was suicide. You just didn’t come back. 

That’s what it’s like advancing a career, making deals, and closing sales. Do it in a vacuum, be the lone maverick with no network, and you’re just as liable to get eaten.

Daniel DiGriz, who teaches Peer Networking both at CHF’s Art-Business Conference and in its Digital Campus, tells that story a lot. He was an active participant in a peer network in New York, which is also how he found and joined The Clark Hulings Fund—bringing along his interest in primordial truths from the misty past.

Effective peer networks, he says, exchange contacts and referrals, swap business skills, and foment industry change. Their members are stronger in a pack, and especially so because they diversify their approach to problems and lend each other their strengths—which offset individual weaknesses. The most important things in a peer network are regular participation, clarity of focus, skin in the game, and a reasonable balance of needs and value being brought by each individual. All of that is important to make a group work and last. But the most important thing is the ethos. Resilient networks have a “one for all and all for one” attitude. You set aside a focus on what you’re going to GET out of it, and put that energy into how you can help others succeed. In so doing, you help foster a climate that ensures your own success. It’s counterintuitive, but effective. As Daniel’s old networking group puts it, “Givers gain.” Shortchange that, and the rest becomes window dressing.

This year at The Clark Hulings Fund Art-Business Conference—with upcoming dates in Santa Fe, NM (Sept 16-18) and Virginia (Nov 7-9), Daniel DiGriz will be teaching artists to form working peer networks that have the capacity to extend each participant’s capability beyond what they can do alone.

You know someone who needs this. It might even be you. And hey: the price of admission is lower if you book in advance. Do that now at and reserve your seat at the table. If you’re not an artist, there’s a special badge for you as well.




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