How we brush off on eachother…
some of us just brush each other the right way, some the wrong way. When speaking of creative endeavors, it’s best to surround yourself with those who do the brush thing right. Whether it’s painterly skills or people skills, it all matters and it’s all connected. Who you are as an artist is directly connected to the image you convey, your presence. I hate to admit it, but it is a very personal thing.
I think life is stranger than fiction, so I offer you a true story. On Tuesday, I was in DOS coffee/wine bar indulging in a caffeine blitz and chatting with Julie (who offered great tips for PechaKucha Nights) when a fella, an artist, wandered over to us and started asking about the local art scene. He had moved to our wee town from Ashville N.C. where he had no luck breaking into their art community.
Here we go– The life lesson here is about brushing right and brushing wrong.
First question to this inquiring artist. I asked if he had a business card, No. OK, sometimes I forget mine. But, I always grab a napkin to write on, something if the person seems genuinely interested. Or pick up the Smart/i-Phone and SEARCH (That biz-card request seems old-school, I know… but I stick to my guns about this. It’s transferable– It’s concrete, it fosters a connection…it-requires-some-eye-contact. Maybe this seems small, but when a stranger is fishing for tips and some endorsement I want a hook-line-visual somewhere.) Next question. Do you have a website, No. (Sideways answer, “I’m on deviant art.”) Hate to break it to you, but no-one is going to go searching for your visual stuff. It needs to be easily web-browsed and linked, shared, viewed. And here’s where the whole chit-chat session went to brushing-me-the-wrong-way. He glanced down at his fingernails and started picking at the dirt with the sharp end of his mechanical pencil. Conversation over. What can be gleaned from this? Never underestimate the potential for spontaneous off-the-cuff connections. And, if you are trying to break-good-with-locals into the art network of your next new town then leave your fingernails alone. This artist (I never did see his art, partly because he wanted to touch my phone which is creep-EEE) was truly bewildered about why nothing was happening in his art world. Sigh.
OK. Flip side. How to brush people the right way. Do you have an artist-friend who’s having an Art opening/Reception? Go. Got an Artist-friend who is feeling big jitters before heading to the West Coast for 6 weeks of intense studio time? Cook a spaghetti dinner and fold Origami One-Trick-Ponies. Got a professional Artist-friend who wants to give you some valuable tips about painting/palette/plein-air techniques, then actively listen (it’s OK to cock your head like a puppy, that really gives good effect and shows genuine interest). Side Note: To Actively Listen is not an oxymoron.
What I’m pushing for here is awareness about our creative worlds. They can feel small, mostly solo, and our performance benefits from the pulse around us. Here’s the challenge: Reach in, reach out, and be agreeable. Brush people the right way.
Side Note: Upcycling is not just for crafts and trash, it’s for the canvas and studio space too. Revise, refine and re-boot whatever isn’t working for you. And here’s an image of artists brushing each other the right way at DOS coffee/wine bar.