by guest blogger Janet Sunderland
Stop hating conversation and communicate your passion.
I’m a writer, a memoirist and a poet, so telling my story is what I do. I don’t have to talk to people, only my screen. Unless I’m doing a public event where I have to employ the same skills as you, who prefer communicating with tools and materials rather than people.
When that happens, I have to prepare in the same way you need to prepare when you’re having a gallery show.
People buy art because 1. They like it; 2. They buy a piece of us. No, not physical slices, but think about the slice you can tell people to encourage their interest.
Take a page from my journaling and start writing. It’s called freewriting. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or making sense. You just have to get the words down so you can SEE what you didn’t know you knew.
Here’s some prompts to get you going:
- Early influences. Did you read comics and like the bright colors? Who were early influencers? Family? Friends? Teachers? How did you learn to love the colors/shapes/images you create?
- What were the conflicts or challenges to becoming an artist? How did you incorporate those conflicts/challenges? Family/friends/teachers/etc.
- How does this particular piece show or follow those early experiences? How not?
- What is your vision for your work? Is it moving in a new direction? Define the movement. Is it deepening an earlier path? Define. Are you trying new shapes/colors? Verbally define the movement your work is making. For differences, point out the connecting line of thought or vision.
- What are your plans/dreams? How do plans or dreams show up on your work? The more you are able to verbally present your passion, the easier it is for viewers to connect. Write: what is my passion? Keep writing it, over and over, until something pops out at you.
Freewriting accesses a nonlinear part of the brain. Find a comfortable place to rest your arm and comfortable writing instruments. Writing by hand in a physical movement connects with the nonlinear part of your brain more than computer writing. Write without stopping—to respell, clean up a sentence, or think. If nothing comes, make yourself write the same word over and over until something does.
Write for five minutes, keeping your pen moving. When you can push longer, do so. The longer you write and the faster you write, you’ll notice your mind hits a wall; that’s the wall where treasures lie. Keep your pen moving, write anything, and the secret message will pop out.
Sort of like those hidden message things we used to rub pencil over when we were kids.
After you write, outline your ideas, and practice out loud. There’s too much stuff going on at a gallery opening. When you practice out loud, (without notes) you will feel natural and sound natural because you have practiced enough to have the right words in each situation.
And the last two pieces of advice? Trust yourself and Keep your sense of humor. A sense of humor, dark humor included, makes us all happier (and it could charm your buyer!).
Janet Sunderland grew up on a farm in Marshall County, Kansas and drifted like a cottonseed across the United States, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean before moving to Kansas City with her husband, Cliff Kroski. She is poet, a memoirist, and an editor. Her poetry collection, At the Boundary, was released by Finishing Line Press in May of 2013. Poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She’s currently working on a book length memoir, Written on the Reverse and serves as Vice-President on the executive board of Whispering Prairie Press. She’s a professional actor, a member of SAG-AFTRA, and teaches writing and public speaking.