Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's art themed website: QUESTIONS TO ASK ARTISTS

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So you're going to an art show or big art opening to meet your favorite artist. Are you at a loss about what questions to ask? Worried that you're going to ask the wrong thing? Based on my experience in the art world and art show circuit, these are my suggestions on how to get a conversation going with most any artist.

Don't start by asking "Did you make this?". I realize that may seem like a perfectly innocent question on your part, but it's one that artists are asked MULTIPLE times during an art show or opening. Artists tend to take that question as "Of course! As opposed to my little gnomes or slave labor?" A better question would be, "Are you the artist?" if you are unsure if the person you are talking to actually created the art.

Ask the artist about their particular technique. Artists love to talk about what they do! This can move into a question about why their art is different from other artists.

Ask the artist about their art training and inspiration. Artists have varied backgrounds from formal art training at colleges and universities to natural talent to learning it as a second career. You can even talk about what they would like to learn more about in the future.

Ask if the artist teaches anywhere. If they do, trust me, they will want to tell you. Maybe you can even take their class and pick up a new hobby.

Don't be afraid to ask specific questions about things you don't understand. For example, it took me several years to figure out that when people asked what kind of metal I used in my jewelry (which had been colored with a special patina), the real question was how did the color get onto the metal. I found out that patrons assumed that I must have used a special kind of silver to get the unique blues, pinks, browns and blacks on my jewelry. Moral of the story, I finally figured out the real question when one art show booth visitor kept asking me about my technique.

Lastly, in case you need an artist question cheat sheet, here's a few you can print out and keep in your pocket for the next time you visit an art show.

What inspires you?
What is your technique?
How is your art different from other artists?
How did you get started?
Can you take me step by step through a piece?
Why do you do your art?
Why do you do this particular kind of art (or use this particular technique)?
Can you describe your creative process?

Hopefully, the artist you speak with can give you some thoughtful answers so you can better appreciate not only that artist's creations, but others as well.

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