These days, it seems like I am often asked more often whether I give art lessons than whether my art is for sale... and in talking to fellow artists, I know I am not alone.
Spring, and the outdoor Arts Fair season, is not far away
What Does it MEAN?
Just today — while spending four hours at the Red Dragonfly Gallery, interacting with visitors — I actually had more people ask whether we offer art lessons than people actually interested in the art, itself.
Much of the time, I am not sure whether that's good, bad or indifferent.
In a sense, it's somewhat flattering that people clearly think enough of the art that they'd care to ask for lessons in how to do it.
On the other hand, it also feels somewhat offputting — when you're an artist — that people love your work, but have no interest in buying it, they just want to make it, themselves. Maybe I am overly sensitive here, but it actually feels mildly insulting.
"At The Water's Edge"
A Look at the Purpose of Skill and Talent
Feelings aside, it makes me pause to ponder the deeper implications of "having a skill," or "having a talent?"
It is our purpose to create, or is it our purpose to teach?
When I think back over my 30-something years in the art business, I must conclude that I have know more art teachers who decided to be "artists-only" than I know artists who decided to also teach.
Personally, I can't imagine teaching art... perhaps because I am working with the bias that the only reason someone is willing to spend $50 on an art class is that they hope to learn how to paint a painting, rather than pay $500 for it at a gallery.
Yes, I'm a little bit jaded and cynical, but keep in mind that I have stood on both sides of the sales counter, in this particular equation.
Which is not to say that there aren't people who sincerely seek art instruction because they sincerely want to learn art techniques.
Public Art in our downtown area
Looking Backwards, to a Time Long Gone...
In the traditional sense, art was often taught when someone chose to become apprentice to a master of some kind of fine art — maybe a painter, maybe a sculptor, maybe a ceramicist, maybe a goldsmith.
After some years of apprenticing, the student would set forth and become a master, in their own right.
When we fast forward to current times, odds are that those who are genuinely sincere about learning an art technique are more likely going to approach a community college or university to learn, rather than walk into a random art gallery, admire the art and then ask "do you teach art?"
And so, it's perhaps the approach I find a little offputting... what ar your thoughts on this? Please leave a comment!
The Red Dragonfly is an independent alternative art gallery located in Port Townsend, WA; showcasing edgy and unique contemporary art & handmade crafts by local and worldwide artists. All images are our own, unless otherwise credited. Where applicable, artist images used with permission.