It’s necessary for artists to be able to talk about their work. In clutch situations, it’s critical to be able to explain what you’re doing quickly, with the audience in mind.

Even if people have seen your work, you still need to know how to talk. Usually, if viewers are interested in your work, they want to dig deeper.

Where to start

People such as curators and gallerists want to understand your work, not judging the book by only the cover. They want to know your influences, motivations, interpretations, and processes.

Distancing yourself from your work can be challenging. Art can be difficult to explain, especially your own work. Refer to your artist statement and dig even deeper to get to know every aspect about what you do.

Obtain an elevator pitch

Own it

When explaining what you do, avoid starting a sentence with “I’m interested in…”. For example, you explain that you’re interested in the way color and pattern creates optical illusions. Instead, explain that you use color and pattern to create optical illusions. This gives off an essence of confidence that you’re technique is successful, rather than experimental.

Short and sweet

Your elevator pitch should be less than two minutes or much shorter, depending on the situation. Avoid going off on a tangent, and only cover what the audience needs and wants to know. They don’t need to know what your day job is; only be defined as an artist. Use the most important features from your artist statement and the current or recent highlights of your career. Your content may vary depending on who you pitching to and what your trying to achieve.

“I paint figures at contradicting conditions of dream and reality. I currently have a body of work in the ‘Disturbed Matter Exhibition’ at Arthouse Gallery. One of the paintings is featured on the cover of the scholarly journal, ‘Disturbed Politics’.”

Avoid negativity

Negative statements about what you do reveals a lack of confidence and does not convince the audience that you succeed at what you do.

Keep the audience in mind

There are different levels of art appreciation among the audience to keep in mind. Through experience, you will develop a knack at customizing your pitch accordingly.

Studio visits

During studio visits, you should prepare to present a longer, more detailed elevator pitch. Give as much information necessary, and don’t bore the audience with what they don’t need to know. Some curators don’t want to have to ask any questions and some prefer to develop their own interpretation before you spoil it. Modify your presentation according to your visitors.

Know the answers

Whether at a studio visit or an exhibition reception, it’s important to know every nook and cranny of what you do, so you can answer any questions. These are some questions to consider:

Why did you choose the subject matter?

Conceptually, what are your intentions?

Have you used symbolism?

Do the colors have any significance?

Why did you choose the title?

Why did you choose that size?

If you regularly use different mediums, why did you choose this particular medium for this piece?