Q+A Call In Show— How to talk about your art to buyers at shows

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There's nothing quite so exciting as opening night at a show you've worked hard to create new art for… but at the same time, quite a few artists are nervous when it comes to talking about their work. Working the crowd at a gallery opening or art fair is equal parts stage show, social function, classroom and business meeting. Here are a few of the questions I've been asked about how to put your best foot forward at an art event.

  1. At a group show, how do you tell who is a buyer and who is another artist?
  2. If you invite friends to your opening, how do you balance time with them and time with potential clients?
  3. At gallery openings, how do you break the ice? How do you just go up to someone and start talking about your art (especially if they didn't approach you first)?
  4. Should you have a prepared statement ready about the pieces you are showing, or just talk informally about your work? How do you avoid coming off as arrogant, pushy or self-centered?
  5. How do you find ways to engage people personally so that they take an interest in the ideas or methods used in your art?
  6. How long should you spend talking to people? Is it better to spend more time with a couple people who are really interested or should you spend shorter periods with more people?
  7. How should you dress for an opening? Is formal dress required, or are jeans okay?
  8. What if people tell you they don't like your art? Do you ask questions to find out why or do you just say thanks and exit gracefully?
  9. What's the best way to follow up with potential buyers you meet at an opening?
  10. Is drinking at an opening an okay way to take the edge off any anxiety you may feel?
Please call in with your own questions about representing yourself and your work at shows or ask me on twitter.

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I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

On the way to a successful art career I've been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.

It's all the same thing in the end— I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world. And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.

My specialty is impossibility remediation: if it can't be done, I'm on it.

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