Artists Questioned. What are the do’s and don’ts of a studio visit?


A dance with the devil, oil & spray paint on mdf panel, 120 x 99cm, 2014

Valerie Brennan, Glare,
oil & spray paint on mdf panel, 120 x 99cm, 2014

All artists have questions they seek answers to. Sometimes they ask themselves the same questions over and over again, and sometimes they seek out friends and mentors who provide answers to their questions. If you ask the same question to several people you will most likely get several different answers, and then it is up to you to select the answer that is best for you. So the question is…What are the do’s and don’ts of a studio visit?

Valerie Brennan “I have tremendous respect for artists so I always love a studio visit, as a visitor or receiving a visit, and actively welcome both. I don’t really have a list of do’s and don’ts as they usually progress very naturally, I feel an affinity with other artists so I find it easy to communicate and think we share an understanding of something fundamental as a fellow maker, so it’s comfortable. Some basic courtesies would be: be on time, be prepared: know the work of the person you are visiting and think of some specific questions that you want to ask. Find some common issues either in the creation of work or in the work itself that you can talk about. Don’t make it feel like an interrogation. Recently I had a visit to my studio and that person just spoke about themselves and spent the time listing their own achievements so that’s a don’t! Bring a bottle of wine that’s always a great start.” VB

Cliff EylandStudio visit do’s and don’ts from Cliff Eyland, who is both an artist and a curator:

– Precise directions to your studio or meeting place are essential. Do not be late. The visitor won’t be on time: be patient.

– You do not need to know why you are being visited, so don’t ask.

– Neither the visitor nor the person visited should have expectations about the results of a studio visit

– You are not obligated to provide anything more than a glass of water to the visitor. By the time they have seen you they have probably had enough coffee, and they just don’t need your alcohol and/or drugs.

– You should not have sex with the visitor, even though sex hangs in the air of many a studio visit, as it does with many artistic encounters. Save it for later

– Do not be surprised if your visitor says nothing about your work, especially if they are doing many studio visits that day.

– Allow the visitor to take photographs of you and your work

– Studio visits, especially the first studio visit (and of course when the artist does not have a studio) can be conducted in a coffee shop with a laptop. Do not overestimate the visitor’s need to see your work in person. The visitor pays for coffee shop drinks.

– In most cases, the visitor is going to understand your work, or at least easily place it in a context that they understand. You don’t have to struggle with problems of comprehension. What can’t be fathomed in your work can’t be fathomed by anybody, you included.”

Becka ViauStudio Visits – Do’s and Don’t

Don’t do this

1 – Get your self too worked up about meeting someone you think is powerful or cool. Curators and other artists are people too, and they have their self doubts just like you!

2 – Prepare a boring powerpoint about your life, your inspirations, and your influences. (If you do this you may as well just give the studio visitor some old hard candy and send them away.)

3- Tidy the studio like the pope is going to visit. You should be in your natural environment – I mean if there is old mouldy food around and the place stinks for heaven’s sake clean the filth, but don’t polish the china. Make sure there is a comfortable place for you and your guest to sit and chat.

4- Try to show the visitor your life’s work. This is almost as bad as a dull power point.

5- Gift your Art on the first visit.We all know what kind of relationship that leads to.

6- Talk about everything but your ideas, your process, your practice. Good and meaningful visitors will be naturally interested in what you are doing in the studio, that is why they are there in the first place. So, feel confident, talking about yourself and the ideas that are currently in your head is what this visit is all about!

Do this

1– Be calm and prepared. Have a card or your contact information ready to give out. Think about what is current and relevant in your studio. Has the visitor requested to see a specific work? Is that work ready and accessible – easily viewed in its best light/situation? (still in the studio.) If you are showing digital work, test it before the visit and make sure it works. this will help you not get too worked up.

2- Have a little beverage or refreshment available – this is mostly for you – pick something that will help you be calm and relaxed. I usually am drinking tea or coffee, it gives me a) something to do with my hands and b) something to do with my mouth when I should be listening and not talking.

3- Don’t have a strict plan. A script is the last thing you want when hosting a studio visit. Be honest, be open and let the conversation go where it will (as long as it stay on topic to what you are thinking about/ working on in your studio.

4- Invite them back! Invite them to check out your blog/website … or to be your friend on your social networks… If you are like me, art is my life, I basically am thinking about things all the time, and I reflect this in my online life … So do this, unless they are jerks, then just give them an old candy cane and send them on their way.

A very helpful link about studio visits:  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6OV-ZwG6Z4

Pan Wendt:  Do’s and don’ts of studio visits:

Do: Think of curators as potential editors and collaborators. Curators are interested in artists and their work, and want it to succeed. Most curators are not gatekeepers. Nor are they the imaginary “public.” There is usually no need to be willfully mysterious or gnomic in this context, or to think of the studio visit as a performance.

Do: Flaunt it if you got it. Whatever it may be.

Do: Have some work to look at (and I don’t mean things that could just as well be sent via dropbox). Postpone the meeting if you don’t. Ask yourself, could this be achieved with a phone conversation? If not, it’s worthy of a studio visit.

Do: Give some sense of your working process. The more information the better.

Don’t: Be too prepared or too underprepared. I think this applies to life as much as it does power point presentations or studio visits.

Don’t: Assume that a studio visit means a show, or be too demanding on the spot about what happens next. The art world is a game that’s as deeply implicated in the highly indirect social forms of salons and playful repartee as it is in academic discourse and other courts of intellectual law. One must demonstrate aesthetic sense beyond one’s own work.

Don’t: Expect regular studio visits. This is just a matter of numbers. If a given curator can do (if they’re lucky) 50 studio visits a year, why would you expect that you will get to present your case with regular updates every few months?

Don’t: on the other hand, worry too much about your performance. Just enjoy the chance to go into detail about what you do. If a curator is visiting you it’s because they probably already think you’re a good artist and like your work. Remember that curators are usually failed artists, or wannabe artists! A comforting thought.

The previous question was, and the next question is…

If you have a question you’d like answered please let me know. If it is interesting maybe I’ll use it.

 

Have you met…Becka Viau?


Introductions can be wonderful things. You can meet interesting people, and make new friends through an introduction. Sometimes you can be introduced to your new favorite food, television show, or artist. I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite artists.

The artist I’d like to introduce you to is the multi – discipline artist Becka Viau.

THE SOVEREIGN – 03 – 2012 – DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH

THE SOVEREIGN – 03 – 2012 – DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPH

Becka Viau is an Artist from Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. She received her BFA, 2008 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has worked as a curator, educator and coordinator of arts collectives, and much of her artistic activity engages with questions relating to the institutions, dissemination and social networks of art and culture.

Her art practice is grounded in the research of historic and contemporary photographic techniques, theories of the everyday and social research methods. The histories of documentary, portraiture, cultural presentation and anthropological research influence her creative studio process through various explorations of people, place and identity.

The form of the artwork Becka produces generally appeals to a popular audience. It draws them in with inviting architecture and welcomes the viewer to wander a variety of conceptual paths.

“For me the creation of art must communicate to a popular audience in order to stimulate conversations around current issues and experiences.” – Becka Viau

Viau has exhibited in many galleries throughout the Maritimes, including Struts Gallery, Anna Leonowens Gallery and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. She was long listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2011 and is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Art degree at NSCAD University.

if you liked this introduction maybe you’ll like my previous Next.

The five to watch.


c5 to watch.

This is a weekly list I’ve decided to do for fun. It is a list of 5 things, persons, events, or places that I think are worth watching…some probably from a safe distance. To make things easier and less contentious the list is alphabetical.

This week’s list is about 5 cool artists whose work has long interested and inspired me. Each of these artists lives or has lived and worked on Prince Edward Island.  All are dynamic creators and contributors, and  leaders in the Island and Canadian art scene. Each has a web presence, and I hope you check out their sites. The descriptions below are from their own descriptions on their websites.

1. Millefiore Clarkes dedicates herself to the craft and community of media arts on Prince Edward Island. Her production company One Thousand Flowers Productions produces a variety of media work such as “pocket-docs” for online dissemination, music videos, experimental video, and feature documentaries. Her passion is to capture on film the moments when human’s reveal themselves and their essential interconnectivity.

2. Donnalee Downe is a visual artist and the project coordinator for Peake Street Studios in Charlottetown. She recently completed her MFA at Cardiff School of Art and Design, Wales.

3. Sandi Hartling is an emerging visual artist living and working in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College of Memorial University of Newfoundland in Spring 2007.

4. Sarah Saunders Sarah Saunders has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Her artwork is included in the collections of the Canadiana Fund, the Province of PEI Art Bank, Confederation Centre Art Gallery and the Burlington Art Centre. Articles on her work have appeared in the international journal Ceramics Art and Perception as well as in national publications on contemporary art. She has been awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the PEI Arts Council, and the Province of PEI. She has a Bachelor of Design from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her formal art education at NSCAD is preceded by an educational background that includes a B.Sc. in biology from Acadia University, studies in dance in Toronto and sculpture and drawing at the American Centre in Paris.

5. Becka Viau is an Artist from Charlottetown Prince Edward Island. She received her BFA, 2008 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She has worked as a curator, educator and coordinator of arts collectives, and much of her artistic activity engages with questions relating to the institutions, dissemination and social networks of art and culture. Her art practice is grounded in the research of historic and contemporary photographic techniques, theories of the everyday and social research methods. The histories of documentary, portraiture, cultural presentation and anthropological research influence her creative studio process through various explorations of people, place and identity.

If you like this list check out my next 5 to watch list.