Sunday, November 15, 2009

Art as Business: Teaching/Giving Workshops II

I've had this writer's block for this Sunday Post. I wanted to be consistent, to be funny, to write about how teaching art is business... but everything turned out horribly dull, confused- and, and, and very uninteresting.

So instead of writing about making money, marketing and great plans I'll let you know how I've taken these 3 great courses through teaching art these years (and they even paid me to take them!):

- 10 people sit at their desks waiting. They are quiet, some have their arms crossed. Many are sceptic. You have to open with the right lines. (rehearsing the first little speech is never wrong)
- You learn to speak up
- Anecdotes and metaphors will help to get the message through
- Humour is never wrong
- If you manage to start out great you have to live up to their expectations - and be even better in the end. The important is to convince them to pay attention in the beginning, keep their interest during (you don't have to be as good then) - and finish by being fantastic (so they'll feel: is it already over?)
- If you can show how to do something instead of just talking about it - do that!
- If you have several different classes you can test everything on one group first - if not good change it (When I've been teaching the same subject to different groups I've tried to vary which one is the Guinea pig)
- Never give them a chance to even start doubting your competence. First impression does last and will be hard to overcome if not good.
- Confident is not the same as arrogant. After establishing that you are the authority in the class room a little self-distance will make you appear human and make you more liked.
- It is easier to be self-confident when well prepared
- If you are truly self-confident you will be able to answer "I don't know, but I'll find out for you"

- Everyone wants to be seen. Make a great effort to remember names. If you are really bad at it let people know - and try instead to remember other things about them. If you remember where they live, how they take their coffee, what they love to paint, that they have a grand child who is a dancer - they'll feel seen by you even if you forget their names... (ok, ok - I admit: I forget names!)
- To be able to read people is the key to all relations. To respect their personal space. To see when they want help even if they say nothing. To let them be when they give you those signs.
- To let some people just do what they want - they are not you. (I once pressed a little old lady too much. She was really making improvements but then she suddenly wanted to go back to painting flowers ... but I wanted her to keep improving. She never came back... )
- Don't just talk about yourself. Ask what experience they have in the field.

These three courses has helped me very much in my Art as Business when it comes to presenting sketches and ideas for boards trying to get commission jobs, establishing contacts with galleries, talking in front of (big groups of) people at meetings - and much more.

As I got this writer's block when it comes to the teaching art subject I'll not continue to force it - even though there is much more to write about. Next week I will instead write about networking as an artist!

[this is a post in my series Art as Business. see sidebar for link to the other 14 posts]


Daniel Milton said...

Jag ser fram emot nästa söndag. För mig har nätverkande varit otroligt viktigt och troligtvis helt avgörande att jag kan hålla på med konst på heltid idag. Det ska bli intressant att läsa din syn på det hela.

Caroline said...

This is very interesting - I'll pop back to read some of your other Art as Business posts! Who is choosing this week's word?

Kitty Kilian said...

We all get writers blocks, painting blocks, teaching blocks even.. it's normal. I guess it happens to perfectionists more than to others. I know of one really succesful artist who will become very doubtful of her talents at least once a week. She says her husband understands and every week again tells her not to worry, she is really fine. Overcoming these blocks (by being relaxed and going for an extra jog and by thinking kind things about yourself) is the main thing I guess. Everyone gets stuck - but everyone just needs to pick themselves up. You are doing great - and not many people can write about all these experiences so openly and entertainingly!

Teaching can be just like you describe - and sometimes groups can be difficult - and at other times groups will forgive you if you happen to start out the wrong way.

Marchi Wierson said...

Thank you as always alexandra for sharing your experiences with us!! I am very grateful.

●• Thereza said...

interesting, as usual. i shall look forward to the networking chapter :)

Papi and Wee Granny said...

Is the watercolor on your blog a picture of you? Sorry, but it REALLY creeps me out! It looks like a terrifying teacher I once had.

Alexandra Hedberg said...

papi and wee granny. No - it's not me. I'm blond and look very harmless