Gallery openings. Immediately I think: white walls, people with clinking glasses, fashion, quiet conversation… oh yeah, and art. Often the exhibiting artists are available to those who attend to ask questions and share about their work. So, what do you ask those artists? I hope to share with you quality questions today so that you can learn more about the artwork you are appreciating! And, if you happen to have deep pockets and hope to invest in this art, you should be able to ask good questions to ensure your money is well spent!
(And all you IB Art students out there. Yeah, you. These are great questions to consider and prepare answers for your exams. Take notes!)
I would first open with specific questions about the exhibit you are viewing. Artists can be nervous too you know! Ground the early questions in details and it will be easier to get the larger questions flowing.
Is there an artwork here you are most proud of? Why?
This is a great opening question. Remember in many gallery environments artists are trying to sell their work so they may be reluctant to pick out one piece, but I wouldn’t trust an artist who doesn’t have a favorite. Each artwork is individual and unique. I can still tell you which artwork is my favorite. I have a few, actually. Two stand out most for me in my growth as an artist. Guess you’ll have to see me at a gallery opening to find out which two! 🙂
If there is a particular artwork you like you can start asking specific questions about it. This is a great question that is really hard to answer. I always ask my students to try and articulate this.
What inspires you? What inspired this piece/idea?
Sometimes my inspiration isn’t clear to me until after I’ve made the work. We easily forget that artmaking is a nonverbal process so it isn’t until an artist has time and space from a work is it easier to articulate. But, there is always inspiration. Some artists decide to leave the deciphering of their work and the ideas behind it to the critics. I think responsible artists take time to reflect and consider their reasons for creating art. Hopefully they can articulate this to you. Do you really want to buy an artwork from someone who can’t?
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
This is always interesting to ask. Some painters I’ve read about will swear by a certain color and brand of paint. Someone else might have a paintbrush they love. For me? My journal/sketchbook.
Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
Some artists will consciously, or subconsciously, make use of a particular element or principle of art as their focus, or as their means to communicate within the artwork. Do they see this themselves? Do you agree with what they see? If they are smart, they might turn this question around and ask you what you see.
How did you start making art?/Why do you make art?
An artist’s backstory can be very interesting and offer more context on the work you are viewing. Often it is a story behind the work or artist that can bring it more worth in my own eyes. I’m sure it helps with sales, too. 🙂
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What other questions might be great fodder for conversation? Share below.
Interviewing artists. What a great idea! Very interesting post. I enjoyed it. 😀
I’m glad you did thanks so much!
Thank you, Carrie! This is very helpful now that I’m diving back into my art career after having been out of it for 10 years.
So glad to hear it Meena and welcome back to your creativity! The world is better with all of our creative energies in use! 🙂
My wife has a old painting of a old lady praying by Nicholis Maes its so old the note from the giver to the person receiving it and the back are real brittle,
how do I find out if it has value?
I have to admit this is something I’m no expert in. I would consider inquiring with someone at a local museum to see if they have contacts to any experts who authenticate artwork. Best of luck!
I have a bronze dog that’s been passed down to me the signature says in capital… ANVERS… could you tell me anything about the artist or where it comes from? Thank You… P.S i can send photos upon request.
Hi there, best of luck finding someone who knows, but I have not heard of that artist. Good luck and best wishes!
Anvers is the French way of writing “Antwerp” or “Antwerpen”, a city in Belgium.
I really enjoyed reading over your artists questions and it is a very interesting concept to interview artists! Thank you for creating this website!
Thanks for reading Katy! 🙂
I was interested in buying a design/print from an online database where I can become the owner of the the design/print. I wanted to use the print on some of my product. Does anyone know of any good websites where I can buy something like that from?
I do not know where you can do this… look up art licensing and see what you find. Good luck!
I bought a furnished condo that had a numbered Chaconne/ Adams print/painting? the back of frame is printed with line #363A frame#241 order #3642 Subject /Chaconne Artist/ Adams. Reconstruction of a high grade art object in perfect workmanship?
Its the guy playing the cello with the little girl in the gold dress. What do I have and should I keep it. Thank you! John G.
John you need to hire an appraiser, they would have the knowledge you seek.
I subscribed to Artist Think quite some time ago, but never was able to access the Artist’s Toolkit. I have tried accessing it several times from your home page, but it says only “you’re already subscribed.” Is there anyway to get the Toolkit that for some reason never downloaded onto my computer?
Thank you Carrie.
Hi Deborah! You should have received an email with a link to access the toolkit. It is the second or third email you get from Artist Think. If you can’t find it in your emails please email me and I’ll send you the link.
This is honestly so helpful for me as a BFA student. I am often shy and don’t know what to say but I know I should be networking and connecting with other artists during shows and galleries (that I love going to). It helps ease my mind when I have two or three questions prepared when I enter a gallery and these questions are great!
Vivianne I’m so pleased to hear it. It is hard to connect… our work can be so solitary but then to network and promote, it’s all about connection. It’s super smart to have some questions or ideas to discuss before you go. Thanks for reading!
this is a very useful website !
Thanks Mollie! Have a great day 🙂
where can I get info about an artist Garden C Morningstar or his 1925 oil painting called Delaware Canal at Bristol PA
Any ideas would be helpful
Alan your guess is as good as mine. If you know where this artist is from, you might look for a local historical museum to contact and ask more about it. Happy hunting!
Can you legally take a fine art painting and turn it in to a zentangle?
Brenda – it depends on the artwork. Artwork from the Renaissance, for example, is past any copyright law. If you take current copyrighted work and zentangle it may act as a “parody” or homage to the original work and thus be okay. But I am not an IP lawyer and I’d recommend you ask one.
Great article. I find it very helpful. I never know what to say at an opening to the artist. Now I do!
Glad to hear it Patricia. Best wishes 🙂
I have been in art school for the past 6 months. I am now moving into training to draw portraits. My true interest is in learning how to draw caricature. Will my formal training in drawing portraits interfere with my training for caricature? Are their any on line courses you could recommend for drawing caricature?
My philosophy is: learn all the rules so you can consciously break them. Art is about rule breaking, but why not learn all the traditional techniques we can so our decisions as creatives are fully informed?
Take everything you can in at school, but don’t let other people tell you what kind of art to make. Make the art YOU want to make. Good luck!
Found artist painting of F M Bennett 4’ by 2’6” signed any any one know anything about the value… have photos. Thx deon
I suggest you reach out to an auction house.
These are awesome. I’m wanting to make an about me video as an artist and these are great questions to answer.
I have found a couple of drawings and I can’t find any information about the artist. Is there a website that I can go to find help? Thank you
Ticy I don’t know. I’d suggest trying google image search to start.
I have a question regarding transfer paper. I want to use it to transfer pictures of flowers onto watercolor paper. Do you recommend using transfer paper for this use? If so, which kind do you recommend? I don’t want to leave too dark a line when I do it.
transfer paper comes in different colors. see if you can obtain a lighter color. the blue and other dark colors come out quite dark.
You can also coat the entire backside of your image reference in pencil then draw on top of the paper, over the flowers, to transfer the pencil marks to watercolor paper (which would be placed under the image, in contact with the shaded side of the paper. this can leave subtle marks.
I am not sure as to whether this question is relevant, or can be answered, but I am a beginning commission artist and am in a slight fix. A costumer has requested a painting or drawing of his dogs. I asked for reference photos, because there are 3 dogs, one of which passed away. He sent the photos, but wants all 3 dogs in the same shot, and the reference photos are terrible quality, of different lightings and at different perspectives! How can I go about this to make the painting or drawing realistic if I do not have the proper reference photo?
Hi Essie this is a tough one. I just spoke about this with another student of mine this past month too! You have a few choices:
(1) IF you haven’t yet agreed to a price or contract: (a) make it clear unless you have quality photos (which are defined as “insert definition here”) the commission will not move forward, or (b) make it a price that acknowledges the extra labor and effort you will have to go to using terrible photo references.
(2) Offer some sketches for pre-approval. If they don’t like them and you don’t want the extra labor involved in this kind of commission, kindly bow out.
(3) Do it for the learning experience, knowing it is going to be a huge task.
(4) Find images of similar breeds with similar poses in consistent lighting to compile together to help you and use the images they provided for the head shots?
I hope this gives you some food for thought. Personally, the extra labor involved in a project with bad image references isn’t something I want to do. But you should ask yourself what you want from this and how you might serve the client, then move from there. BEST of luck to you!
Can anyone, anyone tell me what style of art this is? I know its made digitally, but there seem to many different styles of digital Character art styles.
What system do you use to document the hours that you spend on each piece? I thought about taping index cards to the back of the work to keep up with the time spent or keeping up with it on a spreadsheet.
I don’t track my time unless its a completely new piece/medium so I can gauge my time/price. I journal everyday so I put estimates there when I’m curious about time spent on a work.
Hello, I am a student doing a project for school about researching others careers that we take Interest in, I was wondering if I could have an email to ask you some questions about having a career as an artist.
Sure Val. Carrie@ArtistStrong.com
Have you ever considered using a 2 yr old painting with wonderful color and paint over it to create a fresh painting that embraces the older design into the new fresh design? Basically, my question is, can an artist create a successful painting by using an older oil painting that will be painted over with a fresh design.
Is there a preparation that I should do before starting? It will be dry oil paint with fresh wet oil paint.
take the varnish off if it has varnish. and use oils on top. Yup!