Simple Steps to Improving How You Talk about Your Art

steps upA lot of artists freeze up when having to explain their creative work.  Sometimes, they change topics.  Sometimes they ramble on and on about how their art isn’t very good and how their career isn’t really going anywhere.  Or they can just be shy about speaking up about themselves.  A lot of this anxiety comes from a lack of message architecture.  Most artists haven’t taken the time to create a lexicon or vocabulary when speaking about their creative work.

Here’s how to change that:

  1. Brainstorm about your work.   Write down anything that comes to mind.  Let the ideas and phrases flow.  Don’t edit yourself. Include thoughts about what your work represents, what being an artist means to you, and what was the impetus to create your work. Then go back and extract the key statements that best describe what you do.
  2. Listen to what others say about your work. Ask your friends to explain how they see your art and what jumps out to them.  Write down some words and phrases that appeal to you.
  3. Think about your influences. Take a look at the creative work of artists you admire and have affected your style.  If you can speak intelligently about them, odds are that you can speak intelligently about the aspects of your art that has been impacted by their work.
  4. Time yourself. Once you’ve constructed a decent message architecture about your creative work, see if you can describe your art in 2 minutes, 1 minute, or 30 seconds.  Those time intervals reflect how long you’ll likely have to let people know about your art.
  5. Practice. Rehearse your message In front of the mirror or to a video camera.  Don’t be afraid to ask your friends if you can practice talking with them about your creative work.  They probably haven’t heard you speak about your art in any succinct way and might learn something new.  And if it’s concise enough, they may be able to repeat it when talking to other people about their wonderful artistic friend.
  6. Revise, refine.  Over time, your work will change – and so will your message architecture.  Every few months, think about how you talk about your creative work and edit the message if things have changed in any significant way (new influences, a commission, a new method, etc.).

You are the true expert when it comes to understanding your work so making the effort to clarify and articulate your message is an essential element to moving your career forward!

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