Public speaking can be a bit scary but the truth of the matter is that when it comes to artist talks it's likely that you will be speaking to a small group in the intimate setting of a gallery. So it's really not that bad! So how do you make it happen? Well, if you are having a show you can always ask the gallery if you can arrange an artist talk. It is a fantastic way to help people connect to you and your work on a deeper level. It makes up for the fact that at your art opening people often don't get a chance to speak to the you, or even know which person is the artist.
In preparing to speak about your work you can listen to artists speak about their work. If you can't make it out to go see some artist talks you can listen to many artist talks on-line in the form of video interviews and filmed presentations. If you make an artist's talk, its always a good idea to put it on your website. Check out the video below with artist Sheri Bakes, she speaks with authenticity about her work.
Another way that you can prepare for artist talks is by holding some slide nights with your artists pals. One structure for this type of event that works so well is Pecha Kucha which means chit-chat in Japanese. Below is the artist Andy Dixon speaking about his work at a large Pecha Kucha event in Vancouver. You can host a smaller event yourself with the aid of a computer and a few extra chairs. So how Pecha Kucha presentations work is that 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format keeps the presentations fast and to the point and the slides or images can act as little reminders about topics for the speaker so they don't need to prepare and over-rehearse. This keeps the flow light and fun and a little bit casual.
I recently read this really thorough article from Art Business.com that will give you a great deal of guidance in preparing for giving an artist talk. Here is a little excerpt:
* Begin by writing down whatever comes to mind about your career and your art. Free associate and don't bother with organization, grammar or spelling. You want to wring as many ideas out of your brain and down onto paper as possible.
* When you have enough material, separate out those statements that best characterize you and your art. These should include brief background and explanatory information about what your art represents, what being an artist means to you, what compels you to create art, where your ideas originate and how you incorporate them into your work, and so on. Keep in mind that many people who attend art openings enjoy art but know little or nothing about either it or the artists who create it. These are people you have a chance to attract and win over, so direct a significant percentage of your words to them, and not only to those who already know and love you.