Close

How to talk to artists 101

Even if you were under a rock, you probably knew I was at the Supernatural Convention this past weekend.

The convention is a big deal to me because it’s the only one I work now. I love the fans. I am committed to helping IMAlive. The vibe overall is amazing.

Overall is a big word. A general word.

At this point in, I have done a lot of shows. Gallery shows, artist markets and conventions. I’ve been around the block for sure.

And while I consciously know that the negativity that someone has is their own problem, when I shared this list with my Facebook friends, I got a whole lot of reactions to it. Artists who heard the same things.

Now I know it’s 2017, but manners never go out of style. Never.

For those of you who aren’t artists or creatives, I want you to think of this: sharing art.writing.anything you make is like spreading your heart and soul out on a table and asking people to look at it.

It’s intimate.
It’s vulnerable
It’s fucking hard to do.

Your words do not cost you any money. None. But they can make a difference in a person’s life.

You can actually HALT an artist’s career with your thoughtlessness.

Think about that.

So, here’s what not to do when you are looking at an artist’s setup, table or display:

Don’t point out mistakes on the art.
This one’s a big one. Art is subjective, what you think are mistakes could be deliberate.

Don’t take up a ton of time talking about nothing when the table is busy.
I appreciate enthusiasm but there’s a point where it crosses from YES we love the same things, to these are things you should talk about with your friends. I do not need to discuss the number of rivets in the Firefly class ships. Do. Not.

Don’t announce that you could make the art yourself for cheaper.
That’s just low. Art costs consist of material (I use high grade paints and canvas) and time. What looks easy to you may not be. And if you just covered my materials I would not be able to eat. Think about that. This is my job. It supports my family. I am not a dollar store.

Don’t take a ton of freebies without even engaging with the artist. Freebies are not free for me.
I give out bookmarks and custom business cards at shows. They are not cheap. They are intended to generate future sales. At the convention this weekend, I gave out, no lie, 1800 business cards. I did not gain that number of followers. Take handouts if you’re interested, not if you have no intention of following up.

Don’t mansplain or offer to help the artist’s career.
This. Always. It happened this weekend. Don’t assume I’m a moron because I’m an artist and a woman. No. Let’s talk about the tech company I ran for 17 years, as owner and programmer, in spite of the outright sexism I faced nearly every day. And how I shut that company down because it was time, not because it tailed.

Don’t make comments under your breath. I can hear you.
Or in French, because I understand you. If you don’t like my work, move on. No need to make yourself feel better by shooting me down.

I’m not doing any more conventions. Not because of this, no. But because they don’t align with the direction I’m heading.

But imagine if I wasn’t me. If I was vulnerable. If I wasn’t sure about my work.

Imagine how much damage you could do with a passing remark.

Imagine how much good you could do.

Do the good.