(Image: Sidewalk Poppies, oil, 30" x 30")
As visually oriented people, we often find talking about our work difficult. For obvious reasons, though, we need to find words for these moments. Most non-artists are genuinely fascinated by artistic types; they assume we possess some mystique and super powers (don't you wish??).
- The "Elevator Speech"
- The art business card
- The event or informative art card
I first heard this term at an art marketing workshop. The idea was to think of yourself with a stranger in an elevator, and you have the time it takes to go between floors to explain your work. This means sifting through the self doubt, leaving out the extraneous words. (And by extraneous consider this: Did you ever have a kid in your junior high class, who when asked a question (say, "What is the symbolism of the whale in Moby Dick"), would mutter and stall for minutes at a time: "Um, well, I don't like really know, but I think maybe, y'know, it kinda, um, could mean, like, symbolistically, y'know, like DUUUDE!!! WHOAAA! Like an awesome wave or something maybe?" -- or maybe you WERE that kid...?)
What we're shooting for is a short, succinct statement that distills the essence of what you do. Personally I think 5-7 words should do it. At that point, you'll have either caught their interest enough that you can go further, or you'll see that they've heard enough, and were only asking to be polite. Think 5-7 words is too short? Try these:
- Large-scale contemporary botanicals in oils
- Hand loomed natural fiber tapestries
- Portraiture in the tradition of the Old Masters
- Miniature woodcut prints of exotic animals
- Plein air seascapes of Coastal Maine
(or better yet just: "Seascapes of Coastal Maine"
Thanks to Nancy ,who pointed out that a lot of non-artists draw a blank at 'plein air')
Another way to think of it might be to imagine you're being written up by an art critic (who likes your work)-- what's your best case scenario for a winning headline? (and you can't use this one, it's taken: "Local Artist to be Hung in Famous Gallery and Widely Exhibited!")
Preparation is the key. You're going to get asked, you know it, so you may as well be ready. It can be very helpful to practice this with a friend or friends. They can be artists or not; you may find it helpful to practice with both. Imagine what some followup questions might be, and practice answers to those as well.
In a later post, I'll talk more about business cards, if you like, and also event and promotional postcards: where to get them, how to set them up, etc.
In the meantime, I'm curious, what's YOUR answer when asked what kind of art you do? And do you carry an art business card to hand out? I'd like to post some examples of art business cards, so if you'd like to, send me a .jpg of yours to the email shown on the business card above. Thanks!