Creative Digest

Jo Atherton

Asking someone to stand up in front of a crowd and talk will usually invoke feelings of terror and dread, however speaking in public about your art can bring huge benefits. The good news is that if it is something you find frightening, you can learn to be better and with practice, it can actually become an enjoyable and empowering experience. This month we look at some resources online which will hopefully make you consider that this could be another means of advancing your art career and raising your profile.

When writing exhibition proposals, applying for residencies or defining your practice, artists are so very often restricted by a word count. It can be a real challenge to convey all of your experience, inspirations and themes in a couple of paragraphs. Delivering a talk about your art will allow you the luxury of unpacking many ideas which are normally confined to a couple of succinct sentences.

If you are exhibiting, ask the gallery owners whether it would be possible to deliver a talk, perhaps on the opening night of the show. If you’re exhibiting as a group, perhaps a panel discussion could be an option. No one knows more about you and your art, so it becomes a fantastic way for people to connect with your work on a deeper level and understand your creative journey. You will be surprised how easy it actually is to speak about your art and, with a little practice, you will exude enthusiasm and confidence.

In my own experience, when talking about my work out loud, I have found myself making linkages and connections that had not occurred to me before. There’s something really valuable about articulating your ideas which allows the most important themes to come to the fore and on more than one occasion has led to me rewriting my artist statement, having gained clarity through planning a presentation.

How often do you get the opportunity to just talk about your inspirations, techniques and ideas to an audience? There is probably no subject you know more about than your own creative journey, you you’d probably be surprised how many people really enjoy learning more about the lifestyle of an artist.

One format which works really well for artists speaking about their work is PechaKucha which means chit-chat in Japanese. We discussed this event in an earlier newsletter article a short while ago. It allows for a relatively short, fast paced presentation showing twenty slides for twenty seconds each, a quick and easy format and a great way to gain confidence in public speaking.

Some useful links about public speaking for artists and creatives:

Make the most of your public experiences

Giving an artist talk

Pointers on giving a talk

How to prepare for an artist presentation

Tips on the Gallery Talk