Category Archives: Artist Tips

How to Get Yourself Out There as an Artist: Art Openings

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

How to Get Yourself Out There as an Artist: Art Openings

So when you are just starting out, how do you get yourself out there as an artist? Art openings, and not just your own, are a great way to get yourself out there as an artist. This is one of the simple, but smart ideas I gleaned from Reach Acting Director and Curator Laura Schneider at her recent workshop titled How to Market Your Portfolio to Galleries & Curators. I had my “Aha!” moment when Schneider talked about the importance of not being an art diva or a lone wolf. She said one of the great ways to get yourself know is to become part of the art community and one way to do that is to actively attend art openings.

Lone Wolf No More

wolfI realized that I have been living my artist life more as a lone wolf. I’ve attended my own art openings, and I do regularly visit art galleries wherever I am – but I have not attended anyone else’s art opening. This is not because I want to be an art diva, but rather some part of me did not want to feel like that uninvited guest that crashes a party – to be the only one who knows no one. I’ve moved around a lot and your priorities shift when you have kids, so art has become something I try to squash into an already jam-packed schedule.

Art to Express Yourself…and You Need to Network

I create art as part of process of expressing myself, that’s why I do it. It’s cathartic and over the years I have now created a plethora of paintings, sketches, sculptures, etc. But if I want to get to the next stage as an artist, I can’t just horde all my work in my basement acting like Gollum in Lord of the Rings muttering “my precious.” I need to get out there. So I took Schneider’s advice, and went online to figure out when the next art opening was happening and marked it on my calendar.

Local Art Community

Schneider reassured me that it can seem intimidating to go to an art opening, but that it’s worth the effort. She said if you go regularly you will get to know the other artists in your community and then you will eventually become part of it. From going to her original talk, I had chatted with a few other artists. And lo and behold, I went to the art gallery opening and saw one of them there. I knew one person! Then I bumped into someone from the Art and Wine walk, chatted with vendors and talked with the curators of both of the local art galleries. From admiring a great array of artwork, enjoying snacks and a having an overall fun evening out – my first time out for an art opening was definitely a success. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Writing Your Artist Statement

penDefinition of an Artist Statement

When you apply to galleries, you need to have an artist statement (also known as an artist’s statement). So what is that exactly? The artist’s statement to me, is a more formal and detailed version of an elevator pitch. It should capture the same essence of what your art is all about – a written snapshot.

An artist statement, according to The Reach Acting Director and Curator, Laura Schneider, “is a written document that serves as a basic introduction of you as an artist, explaining why and how you make your art, among other contextual texts. An artist’s statement may pertain to a particular work or to your entire body of work.”

What to Write in an Artist Statement

At Schneider’s workshop titled How to Market Your Portfolio to Galleries/Curators, she provided the following list of “should haves” for your artist statement:

  • Your purpose or motive
  • Material and medium in which you work
  • The subject of your work (specific to this body of work? Something you revisit?)
  • The theories and methodologies that influenced your work
  • Your own personal perspective and background

She added that your artist statement should be no longer than 300 words.

What Not to Write in an Artist Statement

Schneider said it’s best to leave yourself open when you describe what kind of artist you are. She said by writing such things as “I’m an oil painter” or “I’m a water color painter,” you are limiting yourself to one medium of expression. Her belief is that an artist should be willing to explore any and all mediums. What do you do and why do you do it? How can that be transferred into different art forms? Leave those opportunities open to explore for future work.

Clichés to Avoid in an Artist Statement

The following are overused lines that Schneider felt should be avoided in your artist’s statement. Check through your artist statement and if you have any of the clichés below, then it’s time to cut them loose.

  • My work is intuitive.
  • My work is a personal journey.
  • My work is about my experience.
  • I pour my soul into each piece.
  • I’ve been drawing since I was three.
  • l like my audience to interpret my work.

Know Who Your Audience Is

When you write your artist statement, you need to be aware of your audience. There will be consistent information in your artist statement no matter where you apply. At the same time, Schneider said that when you apply to a gallery you should tailor your writing accordingly. Make sure to do your research about each place you are applying to. What kind of art and artists are typically featured at the gallery and how would your work fit their mandate.

Get Feedback on Your Artist Statement

It’s probably a good idea after you have come up with you artist’s statement to get feedback from folks within your circle of friends (and even acquaintances or strangers) to see if they see your words reflected in your art. As well, you may love to froth at the pen with academic terms, but you want the piece to be something that anyone coming into the gallery can engage with.

 

Elevator Pitch for Artists

Have your elevator pitch ready!
Have your elevator pitch ready!

How to Market Your Portfolio to Galleries and Curators

I recently went to a talk by Laura Schneider, acting director and curator of the Reach, called How to Market Your Portfolio to Galleries/Curators. She was fabulously energetic, informative and inspiring; and I’m planning to write more on her talk in future posts. One of the best tips I picked up was the importance of the Elevator Pitch.

Elevator Pitch for Artists

I had a total “Aha!” moment when Schneider said that an artist needs to have an elevator pitch. I knew you had to work on having an elevator pitch in the writing world — the idea is you pretend that if you were caught in the elevator with a book publisher, what one-minute spiel would you give to sell your book/screenplay/etc? When Schneider brought the elevator pitch concept up for art, I had to really think. What would I say if a gallery owner or curator and I were stuck in an elevator together for a minute?

Be Confident

Schneider’s advice was to “be confident in describing what you do, why you do it and where you’re going.” I had never really boiled down these three ideas before, and yet I should be ready at all times to give a Cole’s Notes version of this information.  Right away I started thinking about how I would pitch myself. Here are my thoughts on how I would answer the questions she brought up.

What Do You Do?

What do you do? Currently, I paint geisha girls in acrylic and then I rip up pages from Japanese books, glue on instant noodle packaging, drip wax and burn canvases.

This by itself definitely seems to be missing something. Why on earth is this woman being so destructive in her work?

Why Do You Do It?

On to the important second question: Why do you do it?

In an overall sense, I like to look at the world through the lens of race, class and gender. In particular, I like to create art focused on those who are not at the top of the hierarchy and express what that looks and feels like.

If I want to be more specific to my recent work titled Geisha Girl Stereotype Survivor, this is what I’d say:

As a woman of ‘mixed’ heritage, I created this art to come to grips with stereotypes about Asian women. Faster than you can make instant Asian noodles, stereotypes about my race and gender combo come easily to mind. My work also reflects on the history of the internment of Japanese-Canadians and how that impact is still felt today. My grandparents died before the Canadian government apologized. Their loss, on so many levels, is haunting.

Where Are You Going?

The final question: where are you going?

Because I’m a mix of races, people often are not sure of “what” I am. I plan to do other portraits and explore the stereotypes of other racial groups I am, I’ve been mistaken for or called. I’ve already got some in the works.

What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

These are my thoughts on my elevator pitch for now, and I’ll likely change them up as time goes on. But at least now I have a basis to jump from should I ever get the chance to be in an elevator with a gallery owner or curator. I love the elevator pitch concept, and hope this will spur you on to write your own if you have not already. If you have a great elevator pitch for your art, please feel free to share it by leaving a comment on my blog.

I’m now getting off this elevator ride to go get some painting done. 🙂