We travel to understand
others and to understand ourselves better. I believe the same is true of art:
by pursuing, studying and producing art we develop the potential to understand
ourselves a little better, if we allow it to happen.
Recently, I was reading the founder’s monthly comment in a travel magazine. Absolutely love the magazine. It’s beautiful as well as informative, but the founder said something that irked me a bit. Here’s the excerpt:
“This summer, I was sitting at a café on the Amalfi Coast, talking with a waiter about what I do for a living. “Did you start a travel magazine just so you could travel the world for business?” he asked. I laughed. That would hardly be a reason to start a travel company. Besides, I traveled for business long before [my magazine] began.”
I know to lots of people this would hardly be offensive. But honestly, why couldn’t ANY reason be a reason to start a company? A smidge condescending. I really had a vision of him patting the waiter on the top of his head. Why not learn something from the question? Love or passion, not money, as a reason to start a business? Hmmm… A novel idea. We should do an article on that. (This is me having the one-sided conversation in the founder’s head by the way). Maybe if he’d seen the waiter in a different light instead of focusing on his ‘more sensible’ reasons to start a business, maybe they would’ve had a different kind of conversation.
Art ≠ Superiority Complex.
This is also the problem with some of us art types: we sometimes see ourselves in a superior position to those who aren’t ‘us’. Our condescending and dismissive attitudes towards those who aren’t artists or even towards other artists can work to alienate us from our potential audience, fans, buyers, and even others within the artist community. It really doesn’t make you look mysterious or interesting when you act like a jerk.
If someone doesn’t understand your concepts, ideas or techniques use it as a teaching opportunity, not as a chance to be snarky. If another artist doesn’t do things the way you do things it doesn’t mean your way is the right way. Talk to people human to human. I don’t mean preach or talk at people either; I mean really have a conversation. Use art as a vehicle to connect to other people. Remove your ego from the equation.
When you are at a show, yours or anyone else’s, to avoid the dangerous pitfall of being a jackass (even an artistic jackass is a bad thing) you should ask questions of those you are speaking to before giving your personal opinions. Here are a couple of examples to get the conversation going:
- What type of art do you find yourself drawn to? Literal images or things more abstract.
- So what do you think about the work? (Simple I know. But it works.)
- Do you know anything about _________ (fill in your media, process or artist name here)? I can share a little bit if you are interested.
- What other interesting shows have you been to recently? This could also be a great opportunity to plug your work or the work of another great artist you know.
Keep your ego in check. Ask a question. Listen to what someone else has to say. You might learn something…or just have a great conversation.
I'm interested in your feedback. Do you enjoy speaking with others about your art or simply art in general?