Here is a list of questions handed out in my current graduate seminar class. Answering these questions, I believe, will help any artist better understand themselves and their work. I have difficulty in talking about my personal art work, and always have. It gets a little easier as time moves ahead, and I develop both as an individual and a maker. There are often so many layers of ideas, philosophies, questions of existence, and personal life observations and experiences that are embedded into my work, that I tend to get so overwhelmed when talking about it that I close up. Unfortunately, people are then unable to fully encompass all aspects or dimensions of my work. This is something I need to work at. It is an issue I am fully aware of, and I am trying to take steps in furthering my ability to verbalize the meaning of what I do.
Are you an artist / image maker, or something else? If something else, - what?
How do you personally conduct (or engage in) “research” to develop your work?
What artists (or places) do you look to, (go to) for inspiration?
Could you write a list of ten artists (or more) that influence your current work?
How do you edit your work? How do you decide your best work is good, how do you know it for
Where does your best work come from, what is the genesis of your images and ideas?
Examples might be: divine inspiration, the product of internal dialog with a side of your self,
from research and past growth of your work, one image or object, leading to the next, intuition
and emotional reaction to spontaneous image making, etc.
When / how, did your best works originate? Did it ever feel like you could control the process of
creating really good art?
When you look at / (ponder) your best work, do you think about it in terms of art historical
context? Do you wonder if the work will be in museums, or talked about in academic circles?
Do you often think about what your favorite artists or friends or past teachers would think about
your work? If yes, why and is that important? Who do you have mental dialogs with, when
thinking about or editing your best work?
Do you need to be alone to initially design / create or make your artwork? If not, what type of
social interaction is needed to create or support your work?
Most artists have strong egos, do you? Is that good?
When did you first know that you should be a working artist?
Is art making your “life’s work”, will art making be a long-term thing for you? Will you still be
making art five years from now? If you never have critical acclaim and success, will you still make
Who / what / where / when, is the ideal (or target) audience for your work?
Is your ideal audience small or large?
Is the future success of your work dependent on commercial galleries or on particular kinds of
viewing spaces? What are those spaces?
What level of sophistication or education or art historical awareness, does your audience need to
have, to experience or really appreciate your work?
Does your audience need to understand a particular language to see / understand your work?
Are you an “elitist” artist? Is that good (or not), why? Is art making “ethical” in the modern world?
How important is “competition” to your ability to make better work? Are you driven to get critical
attention and acknowledgement of your intellectual capacity and genius? Why?
Is there some viable way to create or expand an audience for your work? Is the development of
an audience, critical to your work and success? What are you doing to create and connect with
What artistic movement(s) are you a part of (if any)? Examples might be: Contemporary artist,
modernist, minimalist, conceptual artist, traditionalist, etc.
Is your work dependent on an existing group of viewers or supporters or an institution(s) or a
particular periodical or social network, or website or anything like that? If yes, what are those?
Consider the following two words, which one is more important to you artwork?
idea or object Can your work function without one or the other? Why?
What past art movements led to your work being created?
What is your best work about, what are your themes and what is the content of your work saying
Do you owe some allegiance or debt to a past movement or series of movements for your work?
Could your current work exist without past artists engaging in acts of communicating with their
peers, writing critiques, creating social movements, organizing and writing manifestos?
Could you, (should you) write a manifesto? Why? Who would you work with (or organize) to be a
part of a movement? Are “art movements” dead now? Why?
Are we still in the era of Romanticism, Modernism, Postmodernism, or some other era or
movement? Does that affect your work or its perception? Is your work dated or tied to a time
period or style? Is that ok?
What is your main medium (or material) of expression? Why?
If all paint or clay or bronze or paper (insert your main medium of expression here) magically
disappeared, would you be able to keep on as an artist or would that end it for you? What does
that last answer, mean to you?
How critical is “skill” in making your work? Can you / will you get more skilled?
Is movement or choreography or specific body motions, or rituals, critical to your work? What do
you do to work on improving your skills and movements or rituals?
If your hands fell off, would you still be able to make art? Would you still find a way to make art?
Does the answer mean anything to you?
Do you keep a journal of ideas and/or a sketchbook of preliminary drawings? If not, why not?
What do you need to do personally, to improve your ability to make better work (and to edit your
work more aggressively)?
Are you hip or sophisticated or aware or perceptive of the art world at large? Is that important?
Can you name ten important people in the art world, critics, curators or art power brokers? Is that
Can you name five important conceptual artists? Is any conceptual art or artist, viable to you? Is
Is art theory, and critical discourse, important to you? Should it be?