The Night Flight of Peter Pan and Wendy - by Mab Graves
Dearly Beloved: Mab Speaks.
So as an artist, when you show in a gallery there are pretty much 3 things you will hear quite often.
In my time of both showing at and attending openings I have heard these same three things over and over, and I really feel like they need to be addressed.
Gallery etiquette and conversation is something that mostly has to be experienced and learned, and I meet so many young artists I want to pull aside and say “Oh don’t say that!”
So here we go. ^_^
Question: “How long did it take you to make this”
It really drives me crazy when I hear an artist say “It took me like, 15 minutes!”……
Okay let’s break it down. Firstly: If said piece did indeed take you 15 minutes, please immediately remove it from the wall and hide it someplace secret. There is no possible way that a 15 minute piece is any good at all.
Nope – don’t try to argue with me. Take it down.
That’s out of the way. So now: when I person asks me how long a piece took to create, my answer is always:
“My entire life”.
There is really no more correct response than that. Every piece I create is a culmination of my whole life’s experiences and mistakes. While each one of my pieces takes anywhere from dozens to hundreds of hours to create there is SO much more that goes into it and the value of your piece should never be gauged by something as silly as the amount of hours taken to execute it.
Comment: “I love your work”
*Queue awkward moment noise*
No, this is actually a very sweet - if not well thought out - comment to make.
The reason this isn’t a good thing to say? There is really only one possible answer: “Thank you” followed immediately by staring at shoes and pretending to need more wine.
There is no where to go from there.
It’s a conversation kamikaze.
I have had shows where someone will come up to me and (very sweetly) say that, then look at me hopefully as if waiting to see pearls of wisdom fall or a witty comment from my lips.
I am a pretty dreadful conversationalist, and painfully shy in public so I usually end up mumbling some gibberish that needs to be repeated multiple times in order to eventually be translated into “umthankyousoverymuch”
Now, often openings are so busy that there is really no time for anything other than a quick comment and handshake –but if you are in a situation where the gallery is quiet and you would like to have an actual conversation with the artist, here are a few brilliant things I have heard that ended up striking interesting conversations and even friendships:
“I really love the darkness and depth of your pieces. They actually make me taste grey”
“What in the world possessed you to paint this”
“ When I walked into the gallery and saw this piece, I went from drunk to sober” (this guy wins the award! – and I let him name the price on the piece ^_^)
Mainly – give your artist something to grab onto. A springboard for somewhere to take the conversation.
Eavesdropping over-hearing comment: “His work is overpriced”
Whoa! Okay, so maybe I am not the biggest fan of this particular show, but it is never –ever- okay to comment on how another artist prices his pieces.
As artists, we each have our own market and collectorship and some are much higher than others. You obviously have no idea.
Maybe I would never buy a piece from this guy, but there is no way I am ever going to publicly comment on the pricing of his work.
Hopefully he is being honest (and not ridiculous) in his pricing but as artists we need to stick together and uphold the belief that what we create has a valid, valuable and important place in our history and generation.
Keep those comments to your mind ^_^
Art is struggling right now. Our generation can’t imagine spending $400 on an original piece of art when they can get a print from Target for $10. They don’t comprehend the honor and thrill of owing an original piece. It is up to us to change the mindset. It is our duty to support one another and struggle to keep creation alive.
Okay, so those are the main ones I have heard that I felt really needed to be talked about but I want to hear from you, Are there other tragic art mis-steps that you have encountered?
Let’s hear it.