Artist Etiquette

Do you know what artist etiquette is?

I’ve been a practicing professional artist for just about 20 years not including my Fine Arts degree which was all encompassing mentally and emotionally. I work in project or series form and have tremendous 2D and 3D abilities. I’ve easily completed over 12,000 drawings to which I would sign my name. Another 6000 or 8000 that I have either grimaced at and kept or thrown out in disgust. Paintings are a bit less, I would say maybe 8000 or 9000 and sculptures I would put at around 1000. That’s just the art. 

In terms of accomplishments in the community, I’ve presented a number of visions to my fellow artists in the Okanagan, gained support for those visions, and created a number of non profits. I am published – albeit self published, but I’ve written non-fiction books, laid them out, edited and published nine books, including formatting for kindle. I’ve won or been nominated for numerous awards. 

I recently held an open studio. 

My first visitors didn’t have any comprehension of artist etiquette. They didn’t know anything about me, and why should they? They didn’t want to “say” they were artists, and me being the friendly sort, asked them. (Of course they were. Everyone’s an artist, aren’t they?) Then the one went on to criticize my work telling me I was “all over the place”. I admit I did laugh inside and thought how conceited this person was to be telling me this. I explained they were looking at just over twenty years of work and with a sniff the person told me I should get involved in groups and “get out there”. 

You know, in the past I would have been insulted at this audacity, but now, I chalk it up to their inexperience and close mindedness. The husband seemed to be looking for an argument with me about the pipeline and thrust his opinion on me during the conversation. I smiled and ignored him as there was little conversation ability and quite frankly, I was not interested in the debate. I already did the research, and he certainly wasn’t going to change my mind, and neither me his.

I don’t expect the general public to know anything, but if you profess to be an artist yourself and attending an artist’s studio, and especially if you intend to talk to the artist, I give you one piece of advice. Use artist etiquette. Look them up. Research them. Google is your friend. Then maybe you won’t look foolish as you try to make yourself sound impressive. 

You know what they say, it is better to stay silent and foolish than open your mouth and remove all doubt.