How to Interact with an Artist
- Do not capitalize “artist” in your head. Artists are people working at their craft just as you work at yours in your career.
- There are often things going on in an exhibit that are not readily available unless you slow down and look. Slow down. Look.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – artists love to talk about their work and don’t get much chance to do so other than at shows. Your questions will delight them!
- If you find starting conversations on the spot nerve-wracking, here is a great conversation starter: ” The (color, texture, technique, zaniness/unusual/decorative/pretty/dark/mixed media/etc) of your work made me stop to look closer! Can you tell me a little bit more of how you came to make this?”; or, “I’ve never really understood (installations/interactives/abstract/realistic/photographic/etc) artwork. Can you tell me something about why you chose to work this way?”
- Do not be afraid to initiate a conversation – that’s why the artists are in their space on this Meet the Artist Night.
- If the artists hasn’t read the suggestions below, don’t be scared away by their rising from a low chair to greet you, or by their silence. Be the lead explorer – there’s treasure to be mined from the thoughts of the artist whose work you are drawn to!
- Invite the artist to “sell you” on why their work is something you need in your every day space – you get the best stories that way and it will really enhance your viewing experience. Fast friendships are made this way.
which brings me to:
How to Interact with the Public if you are an Artist
- This is not the time to play the shrinking violet. When a potential client walks up to your space, you want them to know immediately that you are the one who created all this lovely work that has made their heart go pitty-pat. Be proactive and invite them into your space.
- Your smile and welcoming attitude is your best accessory. So, remember to smile. If you must drink 3 cups of coffee to be able to chat with people you don’t know, then drink 4. Think happy thoughts so that you will look like you are enjoying yourself immensely. Make eye contact. Say “HI!”
- Ask which piece drew them to your space; this not only tells you their favorite piece, but gives you an opening to sell it to them. (“I see your looking at _____. Let me tell you the story behind that piece!)
- Make sure they leave with your contact information on a business or postcard. Better yet, get their contact information in your comment book (“I’m delighted we had a chance to chat . I’d love to add you to my email list for shows and new work – can you put it here?)
- If someone says their kid could do better (it happens, probably not at ArtOMatic because the crowd comes to enjoy the party of it all), just smile and say, “Yes, my work isn’t for everyone.”
- At a show, if you have a seat, make it a stool or other high chair so that you don’t have to rise to greet people – this can be intimidating and scare them off. It is much less scary when you simply slide down onto your feet. Better yet if you are already standing. So wear comfortable shoes.
- Leave your book, Kindle, magazine, phone stashed and out of site. For two hours your are all about being the best representative ever for your art!
- How many times has any one of us assumed we knew the answer before we asked?
- How often do we let our internal story lines get in the way of something we could really enjoy if we could get the head hamster to be quiet for 5 minutes?
- How much do we lose by not paying attention and then following up on curiosity?
To read artist interviews and see photographs from ArtOMatic 2012 and earlier ArtOMatics, go here.