Got a question from an aspiring artist about what to do beyond just working on his craft. Now, I don't know personally, I don't have so much hands-on experience in the art world. He didn't specify what his medium was either, so I'm really just throwing something out there. If you're an accomplished artist, feedback in the comments is welcome. My reply:
So, you've probably got a medium and style of some sort. If there's a place where people with your style/medium congregate or gather or feature their work, go look there and see who is doing what you like. Write down their names, then hit Google. Find their websites /myspace/facebook/linkedin/whatever, and look for their bios. In their bios, note what they're proud of and what they feature - what galleries, magazines, photographers/photography... whatever... it's hard to be precise without knowing exactly what you're doing.
If you're doing your own unique medium/style, then look for people who you generally admire who are doing things that are relevant to you. If you're doing something very unique with sculpture for instance, then anyone else building any kinds of sculptures or similar might be relevant.
One thing that could help you if you're still working on your skill is to send a very short targeted message to someone you admire via email or even a call or letter. Make it very brief and do these things:
1. Say you admire them, and why
2. Say that you've got a quick question, ask something intelligent
3. Stress that you're a hard worker and will actually apply their advice
4. Be very grateful
That can be a few birds with one stone - learning, as well as connecting with an established artist. Then, reach out to them again once you've completed or done what they recommend, and just say thanks. That's a pretty viable way of connecting with people.
Expect to have to send 5-20 emails to get 3-10 replies. That's just how the world works. But it's worth it, because you lose nothing when you don't get a reply but potentially gain a lot when you do.
Best of luck. Keep me updated, if you like.