Friday, May 7, 2010

Autism Society of America: New Documentary about Art and Autism

Autism Society of America: New Documentary about Art and Autism

New Documentary about Art and Autism

"I'm an Artist"

I’m an Artist is a film about students with disabilities at special-needs schools who achieve confidence, positive reinforcement and hope through an art program. In this documentary, young adults with Down syndrome, autism and behavior issues collaborate with a dedicated teacher to create artwork for their first professional gallery exhibition. As the students draw, color and paint, we witness how these children, who often struggle in life every day, gain confidence and self-acceptance through artistic expression. The documentary also follows the children to events such as field day and graduation, providing a rare inside view of life at a special-needs school. At the heart of the film is Mary Jo, a woman who never stops teaching her students that there are no mistakes in art. With unwavering enthusiasm and support, she demonstrates that children with learning disabilities can achieve more growth than most people believe possible.

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FineArtViews - Dare to be Different

FineArtViews -

Dare to be Different

by Gregory Peters

This post is by guest author, Gregory Peters. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Your job as an artist is to NOT be whatever anyone else is. You should not be doing what everyone else is doing. That mindset should color your every action. I was reminded of this last summer as I visited a local art show held outside in the California sun.

As I looked at each booth in turn, I was struck by the overwhelming sameness of the artwork I saw. Sure the artwork was all different, relative to the craftsmanship applied to the subject matter, but except for a very few examples, I found myself looking for something that was strikingly different. It was hard to find. Since I was not showing at this event, I had my "customer hat" on.

Photographs and watercolors were plentiful. Prints were common, and there were landscapes galore. As this event was set in a beach town, there must have been at least 20 renderings of the pier; each a little different. Only one artist took the time to go underneath the pier and view the scene from a different perspective, and his picture of the light streaming
through the weathered boards up above was striking. That was different.

There was also an Asian couple who offered some extremely detailed laser-cut paper images of a variety of subject matter. This material was also radically different from what everyone else was offering. It caught people's attention.

It's so easy to be average.

What's not easy is to create significant differences is what you do and make that significance into a buyer-oriented benefit. You see, people will buy based upon benefits to them, not features. Features are secondary. Benefits are often "perceived" value. You just can't put a value on what people view as important to them. The artwork must talk to them in a peculiar way so that they see themselves as owning the art, showing it to their friends and relatives, enhancing their living rooms, whatever. I have produced art which was marginal at best, only to find potential buyers delighted to be offered them. I have produced very substantial works of art which were dismissed by almost everyone. In most cases, this art was not different enough to stand on its own in comparison to comparable works those customers may have seen elsewhere.

When it comes to similar pieces of art such as you usually see in group-type events, people often revert to making buying decisions based upon size, color or price. So, there you have it. Your creative work has just been reduced to a commodity. Do you have this in more of a reddish color? Gee, I wish that piece of art were bigger, it would look so good in my entryway and is this best (price) you can do?

Most art does not elicit an emotional response in buyers. When your art can do this, your sale is pretty much of a done deal. You can tell when you nail it because a potential buyer will either begin asking questions about the artwork or buy it outright on the spot. They will smile and ask for a verbal OK from their significant other. They will lick their lips and nod often. If you're seeing this type of response from a potential buyer, you've virtually reeled them in. It takes only a little bit more coaxing to push them into a sale. Much as I love the spontaneous buyer, I'd much rather talk about the artwork and even dicker with the buyer. It is through talk that they make their minds up.

Hey, these are tough times economically, and while I don't always recommend you alter the price of your craft, you shouldn't rule it out entirely if you have a motivated buyer. 100% of nothing is not a very satisfying result of creative endeavors.

What can you do to create a difference in what you do? Study the competition and find out what is selling (or at least being offered) and paint to suit the market. For instance, if I were going to sell artwork at a Strawberry Festival, I would not hesitate to create some pictures and /or prints of something featuring strawberries. Perhaps a landscape showing colorfully dressed strawberry pickers in the early morning mist. Perhaps a large beautifully rendered watercolor of a ripe dew-speckled berry. Maybe a close-up photograph of a bowl of strawberries on a sun dappled porch. Get the idea? It may not be your particular specialty, but you could certainly use your particular artistic style and apply it to what people are seeking. It is in this way you create the emotional difference that attracts people's interest.

So what if it's not your favorite topic! It's not always about you the artist. It's often as much about the buyer and their interests and emotions.

So, what can you do to be different? Study your competition and see if there is something different that people have not seen before. Be different in how you display your art at a show. Your job is to not be like everyone else. You're an artist. Be an artist and release the creative spark in yourself that people are seeking.

Ask your visitors questions and use what they tell you to provide it next show. What are they not finding? Maybe you can provide it. Entertain their interests so they get to know you and it will make it easier to buy from you. Get their email addresses by offering something to them (such as a raffle for a piece of art) and you'll have the opportunity to re-introduce yourself and your offerings at a later date. That's different and there is no competition for their attention.

Just because the economy is poor does not mean people have stopped buying art. Dare to be different, address the needs and wants of your buying public and you'll make art sales a reality you can take to the bank.

Gregory Peters

This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by Canvoo,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

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