People not Geography

A question I get a lot: does geography matter to a freelance commercial artist? 

It's an important question, the opportunities of a big city and the cache of being a "NYC" or "Portland" artist definitely pulls some weight. Do these pros outweigh the high cost of living? Do they offset the inconveniences?

Truth is I don't know. 

These comparisons are very abstract, and it seems like everyone is just trying to justify why they do or don't live in one of the top 5 cities. In my experience location choices are often more complex than "is it good or bad more my art?". 

I will say that moving to a bigger city has done a lot for me in terms of sanity, in that, there's just more community and understanding in regards to what I do. And although I've yet to completely tap into the cities potential, it's apparent the opportunities are much more abundant.

BUT I think this geography question hints at a greater question: do people matter? Or can I get what I want, without significant investment into others?

My answer is YES people matter. In fact, it's all about people. 

I've yet to meet a truly successful artist that hadn't distinctly learned this fact. 

So what's the conclusion? "Networking"? 

Here's my advice: if you don't live in a big city, or one of the major cities, make sure you make travel and face to face time a priority. 

The second piece of advice is to not make "contacts", make friends. The best thing to do is to go meet people in your industry or the industry you want to be in, then make friends with those you like and those that like you (not with those who you think you can use, or those who you think are "important").

These lessons are all hard learned. Hope they help.

What tips do you have in regards to geography and networking?