We’re Not Unicorns – How To Approach Artists
A reminder to those of you that are new, we’re not unicorns, we’re professionals. Artists, often a misunderstood bunch, may seem elusive in conversations, but it’s not due to introversion or elitism. It’s because the way we communicate doesn’t always resonate. As a painter married to a marketing professional, both immersed in creativity from different angles, we’ve learned how to bridge the gap. Here’s how you can engage in respectful and interesting conversations with the artists in your life.
Don’t think you’re also this thing if you’re not.
“I’ve always thought about taking a painting class! Maybe I will get back into sketching” Is that what you think I do: professionally dream about being a painter? A lot of people have artistic dreams or fantasies. Artists actually do the work. Whether we’re successful or full-time, or whatever, we’ve taken that leap of pursuing this thing somehow. Your dreams and recreational pursuits are just fine, but they’re not the same.
Don’t ask me if you can watch me do the thing, I do in my personal studio space.
I have been asked often if someone can come to my studio and watch me paint, I don’t know, can I come to your office and watch you do paperwork? It’s just a silly thing to ask an artist.
Don’t say you want to buy the thing we do if you don’t really intend to buy and don’t profess to absolutely love our work just to be nice.
We can take it, artists are used to rejection, especially those of us that have been around for a while. We eat it for breakfast and it is just as much a part of the process as the making of the work. We also appreciate it if you tell us you’re not interested or don’t like our work, this way we don’t waste our time and we only have so much time to give while we are trying to carve out a living doing this thing that is as much a part of us as our arms.
Do ask if you can make an appointment to view my work.
We have schedules just like everyone else and if you are REALLY interested in a specific artwork, then ask us if we would consider making an appointment to view it in person.
Do ask genuine questions.
Most of us are artists because we relish self-expression and sharing our thoughts and our unique perspectives. Give us an opportunity to talk about our lives and work, and we’ll stick by you all night.
Do talk about who or what you like and why you like them.
If you love a famous artist in our industry, feel free to talk about it! We love to talk shop, and we’d be happy to hear why you enjoy that person’s work. We’ll respect your genuine interest, even if we don’t agree with your taste.
Don’t offer unsolicited advice.
“You should sell prints” Mom, I didn’t ask you. There are myriad ways to do any kind of art right, and every artist does theirs a little differently. And we study and practice our asses off, so we’re getting plenty of advice on our own, thank you.
Do provide honest feedback or critique if we ask for it.
When we do want your opinion on our work, we’ll ask you for it. And when we do, we’re not just asking for a reassuring pat on the back — we want to know what you think, because we want to make our thing the best it can be. Be honest about what you do or don’t like.
Do talk about the thing you love.
You live the life you live for a reason; there’s probably stuff you love about it. Don’t feel like you have to pretend to be more artistic than you are just because you’re talking to an artist. We respect passion. If you’re passionate about accounting, listening to you talk about that is going to be much more interesting than listening to you talk about your pretend love for paintings.
Don’t ask if we have a day job.
“Do you make a living from this, or is it more of a passion?” Sweetheart, this is not just a job for me; it’s a way of life! If you inquire about my occupation and I respond with my involvement in the arts, consider it a significant aspect worth delving into. Whether it financially sustains me or the future trajectory of this career remains uncertain, the importance lies in the dedication to this artistic pursuit.
Do celebrate whatever we’re excited about right now.
If you leave money out of the equation, we can have a delightful conversation about whatever cool stuff we’re working on now. It’s not your job to worry about whether it will sell well or how we’re paying the rent. Just enjoy the little wins we tell you about.
Do stay in touch if you’re into the thing.
If you really are interested in what we make, stay in touch through following us on social media and subscribing to our email list. If you see something from time to time you like, reach out and let us know!
By approaching conversations with artists with sensitivity and respect, you can foster meaningful connections and gain insights into their creative worlds. Appreciating their work goes beyond mere admiration—it’s about understanding the passion and dedication that drive them to create.