4 Questions to ask an Artist
that are not the typical questions.
I have written this to help art lovers connect with artists and their artworks in a more meaningful way. I have noticed that when I present my artworks at an exhibition or open studio event, the most frequent question I get is: “How did you make that artwork?” While asking how something is made is a valid interest and helps the questioner understand the artist's production process, it does not lead to deeper insight. In this essay I share 4 smart questions that you can ask an artist next time you attend an art event.
Question # 1
Next time you are chatting with an artist about their artwork, I suggest that you try changing the “How did you make that art?” question to a "Why” type of question such as: "Why did you create this artwork with this particular art media?” Many artists are capable of creating work with several media. Artists make choices about which media to use to best express their concepts. This kind of question will help you uncover the motivations and ideas behind the artworks. For example, if you were to ask me this question about “Planting Parcel in May”, I would respond:
To gain a deeper understanding it helps to ask questions about the influences upon the artist. Usually life experiences are formative in an artist's choice of subject matter and/or aesthetic style. So try asking: How have your life experiences influenced your aesthetic style?
If you were to ask me this question about my artwork, “Succulent Taste of Summer”, I would reply:
Many artists are influenced by the works of other artists or other cultural production such as poetry, film, theater and literature. Asking the artist about these influences can lead to greater insight. I suggest you ask “How have other artists or art genres have influenced your sense of aesthetics?” For example, I would respond to this kind of question by explaining how the art of ancient Rome, Italian Baroque and Dada influence my aesthetic.
Artists do not usually create single masterpieces overnight. Exceptional artwork is the result of a dedicated studio practice including experimentation, failures and successes. By asking about the learning process that lead up to the masterpiece, you will gain deeper appreciation for the perseverance, creativity, and acumen needed to create the masterpiece. So try asking, “What did you have to develop, try or learn to create this artwork?” If you asked me this question I would reply:
I hope you enjoyed this post and I invite you to add to it by suggesting other great questions to ask to more deeply engage with art and artists.
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