The Studio Tour
Take your visitor around assuming that they are feeling a bit shy and are not sure what to say. In most cases, this is the fact; how would you feel in a new studio where you do not know anyone and were being shown art? The way to break the ice easily is to tell a story about one of the pieces. This can be wide open, but it is an important talking point when someone visits the studio; telling a story can relax both you and the visitor. They are in a foreign place, so take them by the hand (not literally, but figuratively) and bring them to your work, or get them something to eat and then bring them over to a work and tell them a story. It could be anything, but something authentic, something you can easily remember. You could talk about how you built the painting, what was in your mind.
If there are things in your image that you can decode or explain for the viewer, they are more drawn in. Give them tools to feel comfortable by describing what you like about the painting, what works, what doesn’t work, even. You are educating the viewer on the process of looking at art. Everyone loves this no matter how sophisticated or amateur a viewer they are because they are learning, and that is a reward in itself. If you practice this with different people, you will get better. You will get better at telling a story and then involving the viewer in your story. That is the next-to-the-last step in this process, and we are far into it now. You have met, written to, and finally gotten a studio visit from a curator or helpful person and they are in your studio.
The final step is telling them a story and becoming better at involving them in the story. For some this comes naturally, but for most it does not. After you pick a story of some kind and feel comfortable telling it, then ask your viewer questions that can bring them in. Because no one wants to hear a lecture on your art, they want to relate to it, they want to feel that they have a personal connection to it. The only way they will get a personal connection is for you to help them make it. If at some point you are telling a story and it involves an encounter, you can ask, “Has that ever happened to you?” or something similar and get them to start talking about their experiences. Then at some point, bring it back to your work. Then do it again; ask them more questions so they would begin telling the story of the painting with you. Now you have a fan and an admirer.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.