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What Do You Say After “Hello”? with Bob Sadler
You can learn to create wonderful images without interacting effectively with many people. You can spend years getting better and better as a visual artist. Then, one day, you want to sell your work.
Suddenly, you have a new challenge. What do you say to a gallery owner who might decide to represent your work? What do you say to the news reporter who wants a story about you and/or your work? What do you say to people who approach you at an opening of your exhibit? Without warning, your job has changed from just doing the work to talking about yourself and the work.
Many visual artists really struggle with these interactive moments. People who are exceptional when expressing themselves through visual art are not always great at oral communication. That’s not secret. In fact, it’s a stereotype. We’ve all seen comedy based on artists trying to describe their work. The comedy routine plays the artist as vague, conceptual, and spacy. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s rare to see a great visual artist make a strong personal connection in a conversation.
Maybe because of the difficulty with oral communication, visual artists like to say “the work should speak for itself”. Well, the work does speak for itself…to an extent. The work gets our attention. We make something of it. Then, we want to know what the artist was thinking and feeling. We want to know who the artist is. We want to know the story behind this piece.
“I always liked Annie Leibowitz’s iconic portrait of Yoko Ono and John Lennon… the one where he is naked and cuddled up to Yoko on a bed. It’s a powerful image of two people in love and willing to embrace life. The picture speaks for itself, but the picture means even more when I hear Annie tell how she worked with Yoko and John and how she ended up with that moment. It means even more when I understand more about Annie’s life and career that led to this moment. It’s even more important to hear Annie say how she felt when she heard, several hours after the image was taken, that John Lennon had been shot and killed on his way out of the apartment that day. Suddenly, an image that was great becomes iconic. Now, I want to own a copy”, Bob Sadler.
What you say to people may be the difference between a sale and no sale, an exhibit or no exhibit, great press and mediocre press.
We’ve designed a workshop to help you do two critical things that often don’t come easy to visual artists. First, we’ll work on what you want to say. Second, we’ll work on how to make a strong human connection when you’re saying what you want to say.
Remarks by photography artist Susan Hyde Green
“I was fortunate to be a participant in Bob Sadler’s workshop at the PIE conference at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA. I have always been reluctant to speak in front of strangers, especially sharing my personal story. We were asked to consider what we would tell a gallerist etc. how our personal journey influenced our art in 5 minutes. I sat down and wrote something, learning that 5 minutes is really a long time! I felt that I had to share this story, no matter what, and was extra fortunate to be chosen. I had not looked at the paper for a few days and planned to read so when Mr Sadler took my paper away and moved me to another spot where I could not possibly cheat, I thought it was sink or swim time and the idea of failing in front of strangers was worse than the idea of teling my personal story! Somehow, he created an atmosphere where I felt completely safe and knew I could do this. I just began speaking as though someone else had inhabited my being and told my story and how it had everything to do with the art that I make. This was the best workshop I have ever attended, in terms of personal growth that would inform my art making from that moment on. I will always be grateful to have had such an extraordinary experience.” – Susan Hyde Green
This is a two-day workshop
Day 1 focuses on understanding what your critical personal values and behaviors are. We’ll work on describing how your unique life and qualities show up in your art. You will get a lot of support from us and your peers to better describe what drives you and how your drive influences your art. We dig deep into the culture you and your parents grew up in to see that influence. We explore the critical incidents in your history that shaped what you believe and how you behave…what turns you on and what turns you off. Then, we’ll look at some of your art and work with you to develop a narrative that ties it all together.
Day 2 focuses on the way you talk. We’ll work with the narrative you developed on Day 1 and give you some practical suggestions about voice, body movement, gesture, eye contact, and storytelling. We’ll give you time and space to rehearse in a safe environment with lots of support from us and your peers. We’ll work on a 90-second narrative and an 8-minute narrative. The goal is to show confidence, authenticity and likeability. From then on, you’ll always know what to say after you say ‘hello’…and your audience is more likely to feel compelled to support you and your work.
About Bob Sadler
Photographer Bob Sadler from Pacific Grove, CA is the workshop teacher. Bob has a similar workshop for corporate executives that he delivers every week somewhere in the world.
He has deliveredthis workshop at the Center for Photographic Arts in Carmel, CAand continues to coach individual artists. Bob is best known for a photographic project and exhibit called “Inherent Worth and Dignity”. His exhibit, featuring homeless men in Monterey County, is aimed at showing homeless men in the best possible light as a way of breaking the stereotype of ‘homeless man’.
The exhibit has been shown many times over the past four years. It was in theRyan Gallery at Art Intersection two years ago and at the famous Weston Gallery in Carmel, CA last summer. You can listen to an interview regarding the project and get a sense of how he developed a narrative and a voice to describe his photography and his career: http://www.awakin.org/calls/164/bob-sadler/