The Importance of Artist Opening Receptions
I’m excited to bring you the final piece in our 7-part series: the Artist Opening. Writing this series has further enlightened me about what goes into putting together a solo show or any other art exhibition for another matter. Now, let’s get to it:
Have you heard the saying,
“People don’t buy the art, they buy the artist”
The truth is, many patrons of your artwork really want to get to know the person behind the creation. Although you’ll expect that your work will speak for itself, it doesn’t always work that way. You know as well as I do that the art we create is an expression of ourselves. There’s a little bit of us in there and collectors know that very well.
So it’s fair to say that buying art is not like buying a product, it is an experience. It’s not merely an exchange of money for a visual item. It involves sharing in the expressive work of another person.
Of course, some buyers do not care about the message or the person behind the work, the techniques and visual interest are enough for them.
But for those visitors to your solo show who want more than the work you’ve created, you’ve got to provide the means for them to get more.
Some ways for you to satisfy your fans’ need of getting to know you better include
Various Artist Events
- Artist opening receptions
- Meet and greet events and
- Artist closing receptions
- Artist talks
- Group presentations
So don’t ignore meeting fans of your work at your solo show or at any exhibition of your work, for that matter. Meeting admirers of your work helps you build relationships with them. Not necessarily personal relationships, but it helps fill a void in their knowledge about your work. Ultimately, it’s all about your work and helping them gain a better appreciation for your work.
It’s why we write artist statements and bios. But you must agree with me that artist bios pale in comparison to face-to-face meetings. Many buyers will become repeat buyers after learning more about the artists and the stories behind their work through face-to-face meetings. Because there’s something about these artist events that will reveal your personality in a way that written words and your artwork itself are not able to capture.
The famous French painter Cezanne is quoted as saying,
“ The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist”
I know that although many art buyers may nod their heads in agreement with Cezanne, many artists will cringe in trepidation at that statement. Because many of us creatives are private people (introverts) and the thought of making personal connections with art lovers is simply hard for us.
But let me say this, Calm down artists, calm down! I hear you and I totally understand. Just like you, I’m still learning this art of making connections. And it’s worth mentioning that it’s not a totally impossible feat to accomplish.
Let me just be clear, art lovers are really not interested in you baring your soul to them Remember that ultimately, all they want is to understand, identify with and appreciate your artwork better.
So how exactly do you start talking to people at an artist opening? Well, for starters when a viewer compliments you on a piece that they’re looking at, don’t just say “thank you.” Man, you’ve got to do more. You definitely don’t want to give them lectures, but you’ve got to say a few more sentences.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “But I don’t know what to talk to them about?” Then here are a few conversation starters to use at your artist opening or other events.
Conversation Starters at Artist Opening
- Inspiration for the art piece
- Story that you’re trying to tell with that piece
- Social issues you’re trying to address if any
- Materials & Techniques used
- The unique process involved in creating that piece
After my first event, I noticed that 80% of the questions people ask about your artwork are pretty much similar. You get these questions over and over again. If I’d known beforehand, I’d have prepared for them. But now that I know, you can be better prepared for your artist opening.
Questions to Expect at Your Artist Opening
- The significance or meaning of your art
- How do you make time to create?
- Do you do this full-time?
- How did you learn to do this?
- What are you currently working on/ Future plans?
- Are any of your parents of family artists?
You should keep in mind
How to Conduct Yourself at an Artist Opening
- Be comfortable
- Make eye contact
- Be genuinely interested in the people who ask you questions and to whom you speak
- When speaking use simple language not technical or artsy terms
- Don’t give long winding answers
- Speak to as many people as possible (Don’t spend too much time with friends, give others a chance to talk to you).
- Remain positive at all times even when others are rude.
In conclusion, relax! This is your opportunity to meet art lovers, artists, art critics and other people who can support you.
Enjoy your artist opening!!
That’s a wrap for our solo show series. Hope you’re better prepared for your next solo show.
What are some of the questions you’ve wanted to ask an artist? What questions are you frequently asked at an artist opening or other art events?
You may also be interested in these other parts of the series
Get behind the scenes and learn more about my art practice, events, exhibitions and release of new artworks
Also published on Medium.