How to Talk About Your Art

How to Talk About Your Art

We know that it can be really daunting when you’re asked to talk about a piece of art you made. Since your art is personal to you, it might feel hard finding the right words to explain your work. Whether you’re sharing a single piece or discussing your portfolio, there are some key points to mention that help people understand your work better. We’ll go over the most important insightful things you can cover so you can feel confident no matter who you’re talking to!

Method 1 of 10:
Introduce yourself

1
Your audience will learn more about your art if they know more about you. You don’t have to give your entire life story, but take a minute or two to discuss your background. Briefly mention what inspired you to become an artist and how you started making your work. You can also bring up what sets your style apart from other artists to help your viewers understand what makes your work unique. [1] X Research source Avoid using words like “aspiring” and “emerging” when describing yourself since it might make people question your artistic authority.[2] X Research source You don’t have to mention other careers you have, such as saying you’re a “business owner and painter,” if they aren’t important to your artwork.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 10:
Mention influences and inspiration

1
Your influences can be emotions, objects, or even other artists. Reflect on what you were thinking or how you were feeling when you first began the piece. Try your best to explain why it made you feel inspired and what it means to you personally. Then you can delve into other pieces of artwork and artists that you admire and how they influenced the choices you made in your piece. [3] X Research source It can help to free-write about your emotions and points of inspiration beforehand so you have areas to expand on.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 10:
Explain your artistic process

1
Every artist has a unique approach that influences their artistic choices. [4] X Research source Discuss and showcase what types of art studies you did to prepare, such as taking photographs, sketching, or mood boards. You can also mention why you chose the medium you used for the piece. Bring up what techniques you tried and how they brought out the emotion you were trying to capture. [5] X Research source Avoid mentioning conditional statements, like “I only paint on weekends” or “I draw when I have time,” since it may seem like art is a lower priority. Be careful not to use jargon that your audience doesn’t know. While artists might know the names of specific techniques, you might have to rephrase it for non-artists.
Advertisement

Method 4 of 10:
Point out meaningful aspects

1
These elements are the most essential for your piece’s overall meaning. Brainstorm what parts of the piece are important to why you made it, and explain to your viewers why they’re so important to you. They could be color choices, techniques, or subjects. Try to describe these choices in a few sentences so people understand why they’re crucial to your artwork. [6] X Research source Try to avoid purely describing the visuals of your work since viewers can already see them. Instead, add insight about why you included those visual aspects.[7] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 5 of 10:
Bring up the main takeaway

1
While you know the piece’s significance, it might not be apparent to viewers. If there’s one overlying theme you want your viewers to get from your art, explain it to them directly. Let them know about what message you’re trying to spread, even if it feels a little personal or sensitive. That way, your audience can get a deeper appreciation for the piece since you’ve given it more value. [8] X Research source Choose themes that resonate with your audience if you’re looking to sell your piece.
Advertisement

Method 6 of 10:
Identify common motifs

1
If you’re presenting a set of pieces, mention what ties them together. Find some common threads that run through all of the pieces in the collection and why you included them. They could be themes, specific mark-making techniques, or spatial forms you repeated through each piece. Recognizing and mentioning these motifs makes your audience more aware of how pieces are supposed to interact and flow from one another. [9] X Research source Try to focus on positive aspects instead of negative ones. For example, instead of saying, “My artwork is about environmental collapse,” you might say something like, “I envision a world where people know the importance of conservation, and my art captures the repercussions if we don’t spread that knowledge.”
Advertisement

Method 7 of 10:
Be honest about your choices

1
It’s okay if you don’t know why you made specific decisions in your art. Since art is a creative and visual medium, you won’t always have an answer for why you chose a color or made a specific mark. Rather than making up an answer on the spot, just mention that you aren’t sure why and that it just felt right. Your viewers might be able to tell if you’re not being authentic and your art might not make as large of an impact. [10] X Research source Avoid using hyperboles or flowery language as well since it can make you seem inauthentic.
Advertisement

Method 8 of 10:
Tailor language for your audience

1
You’ll have to talk to artists and non-artists, so adjust what you say for each. As you’re describing your art to new people, take into consideration how much they already know about art. Figure out different ways to explain the most important aspects of your art to an artist friend, a non-artist friend, an art curator, a neighbor, and a grandparent. Avoid using jargon with people who wouldn’t understand it, but think of a simpler way to phrase it. [11] X Research source For example, rather than saying “I used chiaroscuro shading,” you could say something like, “I offset intense blacks with contrasting bright lights to emphasize the figure.”
Advertisement

Method 9 of 10:
Anticipate questions from viewers

1
Your audience is bound to have some questions about your work. Try to determine what about your artwork draws the most attention, such as your subject matter or technique. Write down what questions you think viewers will ask and think of a few responses that you can offer them. Aim to answer the question in about 30-seconds so you don’t have to spend too much time explaining things. [12] X Research source There’s still a chance you can get caught off guard by a question, but it’s okay to take time to answer or say you don’t know. If you’re giving an artist talk, limit yourself to answering only 5–6 questions. You can always chat with people one-on-one later on.
Advertisement

Method 10 of 10:
Avoid sales pitches

1
Trying to push people to buy your art might actually turn them off. Even though you may want to sell your art, people won’t buy it unless they have an emotional connection with it. Give insightful comments about your art and why you put the time and value into it. That way, your audience builds a better understanding and might be willing to purchase the piece. [13] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 1 of 10:
Introduce yourself

1
Your audience will learn more about your art if they know more about you. You don’t have to give your entire life story, but take a minute or two to discuss your background. Briefly mention what inspired you to become an artist and how you started making your work. You can also bring up what sets your style apart from other artists to help your viewers understand what makes your work unique. [1] X Research source Avoid using words like “aspiring” and “emerging” when describing yourself since it might make people question your artistic authority.[2] X Research source You don’t have to mention other careers you have, such as saying you’re a “business owner and painter,” if they aren’t important to your artwork.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 10:
Mention influences and inspiration

1
Your influences can be emotions, objects, or even other artists. Reflect on what you were thinking or how you were feeling when you first began the piece. Try your best to explain why it made you feel inspired and what it means to you personally. Then you can delve into other pieces of artwork and artists that you admire and how they influenced the choices you made in your piece. [3] X Research source It can help to free-write about your emotions and points of inspiration beforehand so you have areas to expand on.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 10:
Explain your artistic process

1
Every artist has a unique approach that influences their artistic choices. [4] X Research source Discuss and showcase what types of art studies you did to prepare, such as taking photographs, sketching, or mood boards. You can also mention why you chose the medium you used for the piece. Bring up what techniques you tried and how they brought out the emotion you were trying to capture. [5] X Research source Avoid mentioning conditional statements, like “I only paint on weekends” or “I draw when I have time,” since it may seem like art is a lower priority. Be careful not to use jargon that your audience doesn’t know. While artists might know the names of specific techniques, you might have to rephrase it for non-artists.
Advertisement

Method 4 of 10:
Point out meaningful aspects

1
These elements are the most essential for your piece’s overall meaning. Brainstorm what parts of the piece are important to why you made it, and explain to your viewers why they’re so important to you. They could be color choices, techniques, or subjects. Try to describe these choices in a few sentences so people understand why they’re crucial to your artwork. [6] X Research source Try to avoid purely describing the visuals of your work since viewers can already see them. Instead, add insight about why you included those visual aspects.[7] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 5 of 10:
Bring up the main takeaway

1
While you know the piece’s significance, it might not be apparent to viewers. If there’s one overlying theme you want your viewers to get from your art, explain it to them directly. Let them know about what message you’re trying to spread, even if it feels a little personal or sensitive. That way, your audience can get a deeper appreciation for the piece since you’ve given it more value. [8] X Research source Choose themes that resonate with your audience if you’re looking to sell your piece.
Advertisement

Method 6 of 10:
Identify common motifs

1
If you’re presenting a set of pieces, mention what ties them together. Find some common threads that run through all of the pieces in the collection and why you included them. They could be themes, specific mark-making techniques, or spatial forms you repeated through each piece. Recognizing and mentioning these motifs makes your audience more aware of how pieces are supposed to interact and flow from one another. [9] X Research source Try to focus on positive aspects instead of negative ones. For example, instead of saying, “My artwork is about environmental collapse,” you might say something like, “I envision a world where people know the importance of conservation, and my art captures the repercussions if we don’t spread that knowledge.”
Advertisement

Method 7 of 10:
Be honest about your choices

1
It’s okay if you don’t know why you made specific decisions in your art. Since art is a creative and visual medium, you won’t always have an answer for why you chose a color or made a specific mark. Rather than making up an answer on the spot, just mention that you aren’t sure why and that it just felt right. Your viewers might be able to tell if you’re not being authentic and your art might not make as large of an impact. [10] X Research source Avoid using hyperboles or flowery language as well since it can make you seem inauthentic.
Advertisement

Method 8 of 10:
Tailor language for your audience

1
You’ll have to talk to artists and non-artists, so adjust what you say for each. As you’re describing your art to new people, take into consideration how much they already know about art. Figure out different ways to explain the most important aspects of your art to an artist friend, a non-artist friend, an art curator, a neighbor, and a grandparent. Avoid using jargon with people who wouldn’t understand it, but think of a simpler way to phrase it. [11] X Research source For example, rather than saying “I used chiaroscuro shading,” you could say something like, “I offset intense blacks with contrasting bright lights to emphasize the figure.”
Advertisement

Method 9 of 10:
Anticipate questions from viewers

1
Your audience is bound to have some questions about your work. Try to determine what about your artwork draws the most attention, such as your subject matter or technique. Write down what questions you think viewers will ask and think of a few responses that you can offer them. Aim to answer the question in about 30-seconds so you don’t have to spend too much time explaining things. [12] X Research source There’s still a chance you can get caught off guard by a question, but it’s okay to take time to answer or say you don’t know. If you’re giving an artist talk, limit yourself to answering only 5–6 questions. You can always chat with people one-on-one later on.
Advertisement

Method 10 of 10:
Avoid sales pitches

1
Trying to push people to buy your art might actually turn them off. Even though you may want to sell your art, people won’t buy it unless they have an emotional connection with it. Give insightful comments about your art and why you put the time and value into it. That way, your audience builds a better understanding and might be willing to purchase the piece. [13] X Research source
Advertisement