How to Develop a Creative Support Network

"One, Two, Three Giraffes" by collage artist Megan Coyle

Criticism and hard work come with the territory of being an artist. And in order to move past all that criticism, and make all that hard work not seem like work, it’s good to have a strong support network in place for yourself. A support network can help you achieve your creative goals by being a source of motivation and encouragement.

Here’s how you can build your own creative network:

1. Ask for Help

Reach out to local artists you admire for advice. Who knows, maybe you’ll build a few friendships out of those connections, and artistic friendships are powerful.

2. Surround Yourself With Your Champions

Spend more time around people who encourage you. Spend less time or avoid the naysayers. You want to surround yourself with people who lift you up and challenge you in good ways, while distancing yourself from those who discourage or put down your work.

3. Give Back to the Community

Volunteer your time as a creative – let that be by visiting schools or organizations to talk about your technique and process, or by offering career advice to aspiring artists. Giving more than you get is a great way to not only grow as an artist, but as a person.

4. Network

Get to know other artists and art enthusiasts in the community by attending local art openings and exhibits. You can also meet other artists or aspiring artists by taking art classes or attending creative meetups.


A strong network can serve as a great resource for helping you shape your art career. It can also encourage you when you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed. It’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone with the struggles and joys of living the creative life, and hearing other artists share stories about their experiences can help you feel relieved about the direction you’re headed with your work. And best of all, a network can inspire you – meeting wonderful people who do their own exciting work, can motivate you to challenge yourself in new ways.

Collages from Columbia, Maryland

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

Kristin’s students from Columbia Academy in Columbia, Maryland made their own collages after studying my work. The students are 7th and 8th graders, and it was wonderful seeing their painting with paper works of art!

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

Several of the students had a great way of incorporating text into their collages, like this owl collage.

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

While others focused on using different textures along with a few solid colors.

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

I liked how this particular piece made use of type along with the composition of a cardinal.

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

Overall, I was really impressed with Kristin’s class. As always, it brightens my day when I have a chance to see student work inspired by my art.

Collages from students in Columbia, MD inspired by Megan Coyle's art

And to all the other student artists out there – keep up the great work! I am always impressed by what you are creating!

The Contemporary Unicorn

The Contemporary Unicorn by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Contemporary Unicorn” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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I’ve always thought rhinos were fascinating animals. They look like aliens in many ways, and for that reason, I thought I’d focus on their peculiar appearance when naming this piece. And sometimes you just want to have fun when titling your work!

I also wanted to play around with layers, so this collage has more obvious layers than my usual work. Typically my collages are pretty flat, while this one is raised in different sections. I think I’ll try to focus more on layers and texture for my next few pieces.

Mixed Media Duck Painting from College

Duck mixed media painting by Megan Coyle

This is one of the paintings I completed during my freshman year of college. I decided to make a slightly abstract piece, and started off with an acrylic painting, then drew on top of it with oil pastel. I was always drawn to using oil pastels back then. I think there’s just something about the way drawn markings look that I always enjoyed incorporating them into my artwork.

Hippo’s Day Out Available at Pawcasso Charity Art Auction

Hippo's Day Out by collage artist Megan Coyle
“Hippo’s Day Out.” Collage on paper. 18″x24″
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Saturday, November 4, 2017 6pm – 10pm
National Airport, Historic Terminal A

I’m excited to announce that I’ve donated my “Hippo’s Day Out” collage to an upcoming charity art auction called PawCasso. The event is taking place on November 4th, and raises money for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. You can find out more about what’s up for auction, as well as get tickets to the event, by visiting their website.

Color Pencil Self Portrait from College

I was looking through a few old sketches I made back in college, and came across this self portrait. It made me realize that over the past few years, I’ve had a tendency to focus a little too much on collage. I think I’d really enjoy revisiting some of these other mediums that I used to work in. Perhaps I should start a new color pencil sketch series? We shall see…if anything, it’s been great getting inspired by artwork from my past. I’m looking forward to changing things up again in the future.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Bosty wanted to travel to another country, so he hopped on a plane to Mexico City. He started off his trip wandering around the streets, swinging by places like the Placio de Bellas Artes to check out the latest art exhibits.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Afterwards he did some exploring and snapped pictures of interesting buildings. He especially liked the House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos) with the intricate pattern of tiles on the building’s exterior.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He had so much fun learning about a new city and hearing everyone around him speaking Spanish. It was wonderful being in a place that was so different when compared to his home in the U.S.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The Centro Histórico was a great place to take in the sights. Bosty liked how this one building was decorated and ready for celebrating.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He liked how colorful the streets were, with some buildings that were painted bright colors.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

And he was amazed by how many beautiful public areas were in the city, some filled with unusual and unique sculptures.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The next day he went on a day trip to Teotihuacan to visit the pyramids. He was pretty proud of himself for hiking up and down the Pyramid of the Sun.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The best part of climbing up the pyramids was seeing the beautiful view of the area. Bosty had never seen anything quite like it before. I think he might even be inspired to check out the pyramids of Giza in the future…

Bosty goes to Mexico City

The following day, Bosty continued to sight-see as much as he could. He even got to see the pole flyers and their Dance of the Flyers (Danza de los Voladores), which was an exciting experience for a tourist.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

He ended his trip by swinging by a couple of museums. One of his favorites was Museo Soumaya, which had an incredible art collection. Bosty couldn’t believe how many works of art they had – he could have easily gotten lost in the museum for hours, just admiring all that artwork.

Bosty goes to Mexico City

Next he strolled around the Museo Jumex to see a couple of their modern art exhibits. He liked how the building sort of looked like a factory drawing.

Overall, Bosty was pleased with his excursion and really enjoyed getting to know a new place.

Hat Oil Painting from College

Hat Oil Painting by collage artist Megan Coyle

I made this textured oil painting back when I was a junior in college. This was part of my studio work as a painting major, and I was trying to tackle a still life and make it interesting for myself. I remember I used to try to avoid making still life works of art because I didn’t think they were very exciting. These days I’m more interested in tackling still life when it involves food of some sort.

I used my palette knife for the vast majority of this painting. You can see a lot of texture in the background, and I actually layered quite a few layers of paint for sections of the hat as well.

Photo Collage from College

This photo collage was one of my art projects back when I was in college. We had to pick a shape and then take pictures of objects that contained that shape. It was an interesting exercise that got you thinking more about the shapes that make up objects around us.

I decided to pick triangles and after I took a series of pictures, I cropped them, printed them out in our computer lab, and rearranged the photos on a square piece of paper.

Overall, I enjoyed finding shapes in unexpected places. And I also liked the process of arranging the cropped images – finding a good balance of color and the variation of the similar shapes.

The Colorful Parrot

The Colorful Parrot by collage artist Megan Coyle
“The Colorful Parrot” Collage on paper. 5″x7″
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Lately I’ve been using more solid colors in my collages, so this time around, I wanted to mix in more textures. You can see that I’ve still used bits and pieces of solid colors, however the background consists of fragments of images of the outdoors, while the blue feathers and beak have a little more texture or patterns when compared to other areas of the collage. For the blue, I stumbled upon a blue tile-like pattern, and figured I’d see how it would look when I incorporated it into the piece. Sometimes I never know how a specific texture or pattern will work out until I layer it down on my artwork. I can always peel back layers if they don’t work out, so the process is always somewhat of a journey.

This piece was inspired by one of the many visits I’ve made to a zoo. Zoos are the easiest way for me to see exotic animals in-person, where I can take lots of pictures to later use as references for my artwork.