Studio Visit Etiquette: Part I
Most people never have the chance to see what an artists creative space actually looks like. So, it comes as no surprise that, for those with an undying passion and love for art, the studio visit is perhaps one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences of their life.
A studio visit gives you a chance to witness masterpieces while they’re still in progress, interact with the artist and get a closer look at where and how the art magic happens.
Consider It a Privilege
Visiting an artist's studio is reserved for the fortunate few whom share an immense passion and love for art. It is the pinnacle for a collector to experience and see the artworks of their favorite artists first-hand in their natural environment.
Getting to know the artist personally and discussing with them what goes in to creating the work is an integral part of connecting with the art beyond just its visible surface. There is so much to learn, so much to take in. The key is to go in to the studio visit with an open mind.
Getting the opportunity to meet and speak with an artist, on their own turf is an exceptional experience, one unequaled to any other; and, something you're sure to cherish for many years to come.
Be Ready for Surprises
One of the true joys of the studio experience is the opportunity to see the artist in his natural habitat being their natural selves. This is what real collectors and art lovers crave and expect from their artist encounters. The artist may be in the thick of his/her work just prior to you arriving for the visit. The studio may be in disarray. The artist may be going on little to no sleep and greet you in an old work shirt, pants and shoes with paint splattered about. Don't be shocked! This is the essence of the studio visit! If the point was to see them polished, dressed to the nines, their artwork hung immaculately on pristine white walls and a clean open space for your viewing comfort, perhaps an art gallery exhibition opening would be more suitable for you.
The studio visit is meant to be gritty, you're getting in the trenches with the art and the artist, seeing the inner workings, understanding the roll their surroundings plays in their process. Anything less, would be a re-enactment of what a studio life is, it would feel staged and inauthentic.
Real collectors want to see it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. It all interests them, because they know that every little bit is another piece to the bigger puzzle.
Don't Expect Romance
A healthy dose of admiration for your favorite artist and their work is normal. You see in them a piece of you and it's that deeper connection which attracted you to their art in the first place. You reach out to the artist to schedule a studio visit and they accept. Now what?
Although it may be tricky to navigate and control our emotions in the presence of those we admire, that is precisely what is expected of you in the studio setting. The artist is taking time out of their busy and creative schedule to give you a closer look at what it is they do (and may even go so far as to discuss why they do what they do). They want to see and hear your reaction to the work, why it is you gravitate to certain pieces, what it is about about the work that speaks to you and how you came to discover it.
The studio visit is by no means 'a date' or an invitation to let 'sparks fly' in a romantic way. An artist is allowing you in to their sanctuary, a very intimate a private space and it deserves to be treated respectfully. The objective of the visit should always be to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of the artists mind and soul. Embrace it! If all goes well a beautiful relationship will blossom, one of mutual trust, admiration and respect. Sure, unexpected things can happen; after all, anything is possible. However, a romantic connection should never be the priority when visiting an artist's studio.
Don't Criticize The Artist
All artists have self-doubts, consciously or unconsciously. They are vulnerable and sensitive creatures and this is especially true in the studio. In the studio, an artist feels at home, can be his or her self with reckless abandon. You won't find an artist being more themselves than you will in the familiarity of their own creative space. They are letting you in to their private world and it should never be seen as an opportunity to attack, belittle or criticize them. Sure you may have some differences of opinion, aesthetic preferences, favor one piece over another, etc. however, the purpose of getting to know the artist is to learn something new, see things in a way you may not have previously and to open your eyes to new possibilities in that artists work.
We realize everyone is a 'critic' but going in to a studio visit with the intent to talk down to or make an artist feel less than the genius they are is certain to put an abrupt and often unpleasant end to what would otherwise have been a magical studio visit.
Always Use the Golden Rule
At the end of the day, it's all about using common sense. Being respectful, kind, and understanding goes a long way when meeting someone for the first time and artists are no exception. Studio visits are meant to be fun, engaging and insightful. And, by keeping in mind the things we've discussed here today, you can be certain your next visit will be all that and a whole lot more.