View Full Version : Talking about your art
08-06-2005, 12:53 AM
A friend showed me a article which said that "it's the artist job to create art, the dealer's job to sell it, and the critics,historians and art writers job to discuss it". What do you think?
I personally think that it is important to be able to have some type of verbal support for your work. But I find it difficult at times.
My sculptures are easy to talk about, but my Abstract paintings....
I find my self turning it back on them asking "what do you think"? and if it sounds good I say " you hit it right on the nose". lol
Thats bad I know.
But most of the time, I'm saying to myself do you like it or not? I don't want to sell it but my rent needs to be paid. :rolleyes:
08-06-2005, 01:58 AM
I have mixed feelings about discussing my art. Since I do non-objective pieces that are exercises in pure organic form, there isn't much to say, really. I prefer to let my work speak for itself, most of the time. I have read so many artist's statements written by other non-objective artists that come off sounding very pretentious and cliche-ridden, so I try to avoid this by saying as little as possible about what I'm doing. I'll simply state, as I just did, that my work is all about the beauty of pure organic form and I may include a little discussion of my materials and techniques, but, beyond that, I subscribe to Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe's dictum, "less is more."
However, I think there is an expectation, among the jurors of competitions, in particular, that an artist should be able to talk about his work the same way an art critic does. The trouble is, when they do, it often winds up reading like the worst of the most convoluted reviews you'll find in ArtNews.
08-06-2005, 07:48 AM
This is a very good topic. I try not to! The art should speak for itself. I cringe at the thought of what it must be like for someone that is interviewed. Worse than that is of course a critic essay, which to me, is so bad I stopped subscribing to some mags that go overboard with that jibberrish. Show me pictures, i'm educated i'll figure it out?! The worst question I can get is someone says, oh, your a sculptor..."what kind of work do you do?" Translation: fish, dogs, people, eagles? All I can say is good and alot. What am I supposed to say: " I am an abstract expressionist with a symbolist twist working with basic anthropologic forms that I am hoping will reflect the human condition... trying to meld the geometric-biomorphic shape into a meaning full hole ( Moore/ Hepworth), with sexual references as well! "So, what are you looking for Mr. Customer?" " An Eagle. I want people to know I'm successful!"" Really?" I don't know where the work is going and it's hard to discribe, I'm influenced by everything I see and think and do both a lot!! Seriously, I may be totally wrong but I think a lot of artist are trying to create something that is never been done before because we quite frankly for use of a better word get off on it. I wish I could talk about my art, but, as you can see it is probably better to say: "if you are really interested in Sculpture come by my studio..at least then you can know what you like and don't like and be somewhat educated as to why."" Education is good, it leads to being cultured!" Come on, if you really like Eagles I know a good Sculptor that makes very unusual Eagles!"
08-06-2005, 09:38 AM
Hi. I think that one reason that we feel it is difficult (and resist) talking about our art was best stated by David Smith, "There were no words in my mind during its creation and I'm certain words are not needed in its seeing."
That said, (and I resist talking about my work also.), The few times I've been interviewed or thoroughly questioned by a serious art lover, put on the spot so to speak, it's forced me to delve deeper and look closer. It has revealed and opened up aspects of my work (to me) that I hadn't thought of or come to terms with.
This has generally been a good experience and I've even surprised myself with what I've learned about my work.
I still hate to talk about my work!
Have a nice day,
08-06-2005, 09:57 AM
Jeff,Looks like smith was pretty well grounded,think of some of the heavy hitters he had to deal with.Yo dog I understand how ya feel,but ya can,t be ragging eagles,I went to GSU,we are the Eagles,and my proffesor cast a huge bronze,that he made a feather at a time,for the University.Actually had science heads come count the feathers to make sure it was right,tore him up big time,but the piece is assume.
You recond I have trouble talking about my work?Ill never tell................Eric
08-06-2005, 09:58 AM
I agree with both of you. Once I did a piece and one of regular buyers asked the question "what were you thinking about when you did this?" Before I knew it I told her that my boyfriend had just died a 2 months ago, he had a heart attack and ran off the road and hit a pine tree doing 75, he was 34, and I was working through my anger. When I looked up she was in tears. :o I guess that could have been a sure way to loose a sale but she got it anyway. but you would think some would get the hint when they see "Untitled" on the tag.
I'm pretty new to the art world and I never thought it would be so much work. Bios, interviews, coming up with titles........
I like to work from within, what comes out is pure emotion. Hey ... thats sounds good :rolleyes: I have to remember that one :D. I aggree with you about letting the work speak for it's self.
08-06-2005, 10:29 AM
I find that many artists (including myself) have a difficult time talking about their work. It seems like the ones who are comfortable with talking about their work are either seasoned artists or into art so that they can hear themselves talk ;)
You might want to have a few things prepared to say about your art---at any time. I'm usually able to stop conversations by saying that my art is "organic sculpture", because it confuses most persons who just want to have some frufru conversation about art so they feel cultured. Most other people who want to talk about the artwork and don't know anything about art usually ask about materials, so you should be prepared to discuss that.
08-06-2005, 01:10 PM
Ameenah, thanks for starting this thread, and, also, for raising the issue of titling one's work. That is often harder for me than doing the sculpture itself. Doing non-objective art, in particular, I'm faced with the dilemma of coming up with a title that somehow fits a piece that doesn't represent anything. If I give it too literal a title, like "Eagle," then people will be looking at it, trying to see the "eagle" in it and when they don't find it, they'll think I either blew it or I'm nuts. I do try to use descriptive titles, as much as possible, but these are usually a single word that I feel best refelects the mood or the look of the piece. Sometimes I'm not sure of that and will change the name later. At other times, I'm so stumped I just pull a name out of the air, or from the spine of a book on my shelf, if that works. Anything but "Untitled," because I know many consider the title "Untitled" to be weak and a "cop out." I don't personally, but I'm aware that some people do view it that way, so using it is often the kiss of death for a non-objective piece. In some people's minids it suggests that I didn't bother, that I'm lazy, or that I don't care enough about my own work to title it. Worse yet, it plays into the hands of those critics who think all non-objective art is meaningless garbage and I don't want to give that crowd any more ammunition to work with.
08-06-2005, 01:55 PM
In some people's minids it suggests that I didn't bother, that I'm lazy, or that I don't care enough about my own work to title it. Worse yet, it plays into the hands of those critics who think all non-objective art is meaningless garbage and I don't want to give that crowd any more ammunition to work with.
I never thought of it that way, thats something to think about.
08-06-2005, 09:25 PM
Julianna: you said it. seasoned artist have an easier time.. its because we are in a dialouge with the public and they have insights into where we are going, we are influenced by that and it helps us to see more and understand ourselves. Shoot, we don't have a corner on the grey matter thats out there... it is when you do not have feedback that you feel like your at the ball naked. I heard a comment the other day that someone had noticed a large 9.5' sculpture in front of my house. Why? I mean why does he like it? I dunno. Thats why its probably good to invite people to look at our work and tell us what they think. I have had people say they wouldn't like that because it might hurt there feelings. But, you know the feelings I've had hurt was to my fingers when a 100lb. piece of marble dropped on the tips. That hurts, the rest is education. PS Ironant: I love Eagles... especially in the wild...except when we (Tampa) played them a few years ago, grown men cried as we went to the SB!!!!!
08-07-2005, 09:33 AM
Hi, naming a piece can be a royal pain in the ass, in fact, I think that's what I'll name my next piece. All kidding aside, sometimes I try to use descriptive titles and at other times, very obscure titles that really have no real connection to the work at all. I prefer using the obscure titles, I think it's my little inside joke as a way to make fun of the whole painful process without putting "untitled" on the piece.
I keep a NY Times Xword puzzle dictionary, a regular dictionary, a bible (who knows why), an Edith Hamilton Mythology and other assorted books on myths and legends around to help with the titling.
Sometimes they help, but I generally think that I'm pretty lame when it comes to this business of titles.
Have a nice day,
08-07-2005, 10:28 AM
I was always told the problem with untitled is that when an art patron might want to talk about your work,they have no refernce of a name.Believe it or not names also can sell the works,usually a fluke,but it has happened for me several times.
Ya'all probally think I am a blow hard,but I enjoy talking about my work,more the inspiration and technicall part.Of course it is pretty easy talking about a horse or ect.I have created many a sale just talking about the piece,it makes it more personal to the buyer.I go to shows with no pre plan,and I seem to fall into this grove,unaware usually,and there goes the mouth of the south.I love people and conversation,kind of runs in the family.I think feeling confident,not cocky,about your work is a great motivater,we should not feel wrong for feeling good about what we make and do,it transpires to the collector,they want positive energy.The day I can not talk about what I do is the day when I give it up,you have to have passion and drive about yourself to make it in this business. ant in iron
08-07-2005, 12:45 PM
This is a good time to do name that sculpture! I am so sorry I can't manage files, but if you can see the image...pick a name (nothing obscene please)
08-08-2005, 06:21 AM
I think that Iron Ant has a very good approach, talk about the things you like in the work. I am big on the inspiration and what the piece means to me then the story the work is trying to tell.
I try to create some sort of magic as the art lover can often see the magic that you have implanted in your work and by starting someone off on an idea they may finish it for you. It is important to speak about the story within the work if there is one if not make one up, most clients will love it, perhaps the art critic will be disappointed but then personally I work to excite the client.
Name that Sculpture Game … How about a variation on:
“A Flying Dragons' Second Stop on the Sun”
“ The Dragons' Search for the Stars”
“The Solar Dragon”
“Big Teeth Small Head”
Go for it! ;)
08-08-2005, 07:39 AM
...sometimes I try to use descriptive titles and at other times, very obscure titles that really have no real connection to the work at all. I prefer using the obscure titles, I think it's my little inside joke as a way to make fun of the whole painful process without putting "untitled" on the piece.
Me, too, Jeff. I was stuck for a name, the other day, and wound up using "Fannett," which is the township in Franklin County, Pennsylvania where my ancestors settled when they came to America from Ireland. No particular reason for it, though; it just popped into my head, so I ran with it. It's no more significant than Franz Kline's using "Mahoning" (presumably after the Mahoning Valley of New York) for one of his paintings.
08-08-2005, 01:21 PM
Through the many years I have learned from watching other artist on what to say and what not to say. One thing that I have noticed is when an artist talks about their work and they complain about how much sweat, pain and hours it took to make (maybe they are trying to justify the cost) and all of the tools, supplies and other crap. When a potential customer hears this it usually turns them away from the purchase. So it is better to say positive things, more on the how much of challenge it was and how you enjoyed making the piece. Talking theory of a piece can be very frustrating for a customer to understand. When you have to write a brochure to go along with your work you limit yourself to a very, very small clientele. For myself I only answer if asked and try to not to go into too much of why I wanted to make this particular piece, I will switch the conversation to why are they interested in the piece. Other words let them talk themselves into wanting to buy the piece.
08-08-2005, 05:42 PM
I had an interior designer come by this afternoon unannounced. Basically, she asked if it was an exterior piece, how'd I make it and how much... and do I have more which I stumbled at since I haven't even put together a photo portfolio. I'm fine with that. So silence in business may be golden!
08-09-2005, 01:49 PM
Congrats, Blue! Did she see it while driving or walking by, or what? Man, some people have all the luck. ;)
08-09-2005, 03:05 PM
Thanks Gary! She knew the previous owner and was really happy to see the arts coming to the neighborhood. Don't know how much longer I can hang on though.
08-09-2005, 03:43 PM
for me talking about my art is easy because most of my pieces are inspired by a story or myth etc. so i simply start with the story. plus, i was a chef for a number of years and people always want to know how you made that dish. they ask all sorts of questions. i find that sculpture is very similar - what kind of stone is that? or, how do you polish it? what kind of tools do you use?
i try to stay away from the art theory questions or conversations - i'm just not good with them. plus, i have more of a craftsman mentality so plain-speak works better for me.
08-13-2005, 10:17 AM
Well said, Warren.
08-31-2005, 12:11 PM
In the context to exhibitions, I prefer not to talk (or write) about my sculptures to guide the viewers. My believe is that it is better to let them come up with their own observations, feelings and intepretations. After all, people are all different. Actually I am sometimes curious to know what do they think.
But there is one exception when the cultural centre that acquired one of my sculptures for their collection asked me to write about it. This I did oblige and later on have this write-up put on my website. Interesting enough, some of my friends gave me the feedback that this comment has been useful. I suppose they appreciate the guidance as they are people who are not so familiar with art appreciation.
12-01-2005, 11:06 PM
I read once that "writing about sculpture is like dancing about architecture". I think thats very funny. So thats what I always thought about when trying to put together and artist statement about my work. However, when I got into a couple of galleries this year, I had to really look at what I was saying. "ah, crap!" After spending lots of time writing and rewriting and analyzing why I make the things I do, I came away with a better idea of what I am trying to share with the viewer, and lots of ideas for new work sparked off of my existing sculpture. As difficult as it was for me to come away from the ideas of forms and textures, it was a beneficial experience to really dialog with myself about whats going on in my work. And regarding artists ragging about how hard it was to make the sculpture, we need to remember that patrons are buying a part of our wonderful artist life, not just the end result, the sculpture. Generally patrons work in jobs that make plenty of moolah and offer security, but are lacking in soul. They crave the idea of the artist life style, sure, they wouldn't put up with what we do to make art for a living, you gotta be a nut to do that! But they want to hear how much you enjoyed it and how great it is to do what you do. No one wants to listen to others rag about their job. The more you love what you do and convey that, the happier you will be and you will sell more work. Its true!
12-02-2005, 08:24 AM
Very well put.
I just described in a letter to a friend that I had done some clay work and most all failed in the firing in a homemade wood burning kiln...but that sometimes there's just fun in the doing.
:D :D :D
12-04-2005, 01:45 PM
An alternative thought on this subject....My opinion may not be worth much on any other topic, but when discussing my work what other source could possibly be the authority?
A critic can determine it's crap or a masterpiece, but only I know which is right. A dealer might sell all or none; history has shown that sales do not reflect the value of art in terms of the human experience.
Even the viewer or patron who most appreciates the work can not say if the piece was a success or not... except or unless I have made clear my intention and objectives, either in creating the piece or discussing it.
I feel it is important that we know ourselves and engage in self examination from time to time. It helps us to grow, not only as human "beans", but as artists. The subjectivity and objectivity of our investigation must be relative to the process, first... and the market as an afterthought.
( I really need to examine all the implications of that line. It may be too non-specific.) heheh!
01-08-2006, 02:45 PM
lots of great fantastique artists ( today) and in the past have been talking about the art they made, other artists, their dreams, their believes for art, etc.....and have done it exstreemly well.
it is wonderfull to read what artist think about their work, NO-ONE KNOWS BETTER.
And one can say .......that there is a lot to talk about ...... whene there is a lot in the art in the first place!
There was a time whene beeing an intellectual and beeing an artist at the same time was not seen as wierd! Look at Rubens ( diplomat, painter, dealer, collector at the same time) Rodin ( smart in a direct proletarian way), Stella, Moore, Picasso, Guston, etc......
But it takes energie and concentration. Look in "Art in America" or start in your local library !
01-09-2006, 07:07 PM
I just was in my first art show last month..... I am very lucky to be blessed with the gift of gab. it seems to be a good idea to me to be able to have a conversation with a poteninal customer/client.......
I have found that if someone likes my art they usually are intrested in the way that its made, material used and some detail of my background.....I am also very fortunate that I can talk to the guy at the scrap yard as well as the guy in midtown manhatten with the same respect and tone......it helps A LOT to be able to talk to people.......its the most important skill to have (in my book)
01-10-2006, 12:02 AM
My all time favorite quote on this topic is from the late GREAT Miles Davis who said, " I'll play it now and tell you about it later... ...maybe".
refer to my sig line.
05-08-2006, 05:17 PM
Wow, what a great topic. Refreshed and added to a lot of things I haven't thought about in a while and fine tuned others - thank you. I think any time you can help increase the sales of your artwork - then that's your obligation to your work, your family, the Gallery, and most of all the people wanting to buy it that make it all possible.
I was just complaining other day about having to explain my art. I feel like a deer in the headlights sometimes. Why can't we just walk up and do a quick Vulcan mind meld and say, "There yuh go!" Then they'd be nodding their head with mouths drooped open saying, "Woah, I get it now." But ugh,... then would I have to copywrite the mind meld material as not to depreciated my work? And what of the works that weren't so intentional/untitled that someone might've bought otherwise? I'd have to have lawyers for the people who claim migraines since, some sort of mind meld insurance and I.D. proof of registration and not to mention all the M.T.D's. (Mentally Transmitted Disease)....well this just screws up everything the more I think about it! Applying words to explain my work seems a lot easier all of the sudden......Ha.
That's my two cents worth, Hallac
05-08-2006, 08:09 PM
Terrific subject. Wow! We could just go on and on. But then again...I don't really do that. Ask me how and what it's made of. I love to tell you, but if you ask me what it means to me, I can't talk. It just means too much to me, way to much.
Someone gave me a button once...It said "I am my art."
That's me and I think most of us.
Choose words that describe your work or a friend's. Listen, you're describing the artist.
For me it's too close to my soul to share with many.
05-08-2006, 08:40 PM
I can talk about my work, most of the time, and I usually don't mind doing so. But I still love this quote:
It is a mistake for a sculptor or a painter to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tension needed for his work.
05-08-2006, 09:23 PM
Yes.........It is much more satisfying to release tension with repetitive hammer blows..... :cool:
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