Q: The West End Studio Tour is coming up and although it sounds cool, I think it might feel weird to tromp around an artist’s home. How can I make this less awkward for myself and the artists?
A: First, I totally get where you’re coming from. Under normal circumstances it is a little strange to walk into someone’s house, look at the art on the walls, and leave. But these aren’t normal circumstances. The artists on the West End Studio Tour are opening up their homes and studios for two weekends: Sept. 19-20 and Sept. 26-27. Trust me when I say they want you to come, and are welcoming people of all ages with open arms.
It’s not just about sales either. That’s part of it, of course. This is how they make their living, but artists love to talk about their work and hear other perspectives as well. But, as you point out, it might be hard to know what to say.
For this reason, WEST organizers Barbara Zuchowicz and David W. Jones helped me come up with a list of questions and conversation starters for Studio Tour participants like yourself. Consider this a “cheat sheet” of some of the questions you can ask an artist:
- Did you always want to be an artist? Why do you do this?
- What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
- What is your least favourite thing?
- My daughter/son loves art. How can I encourage her/him?
- What is important to you in your work?
- Would you still do this if you couldn’t make a living at it?
- I love painting and I want to get better. Any tips?
- Who encouraged you to make art?
- Who are your favourite artists, and how do they inspire you?
- What is your favourite thing (“subject matter”) to paint?
- What’s your favourite colour? (Usually, kids ask this question. David W. Jones says his stock answer is: “plaid.”)
To this list I would add: I really like this piece, can you tell me more about it? That’s the question I like to ask, because there’s always a great story behind every work of art, and what you learn might surprise you.
If you would like more information about the tour and the artists go to westendstudiotour.ca. KT also published a Q&A with the organizers in the last issue of the paper, which you can find right here.
I hope to see you on the tour!
Is there something in your corner of Kitchissippi that’s been puzzling you? Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to know but didn’t know who to ask. Send your burning questions (Kitchissippi-related of course) to us and we’ll help find the answer.