If you find it difficult to introduce yourself as an artist, you're not alone.
“I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily for some people. And yet it’s critical to be able to say it with confidence.
Why Your Artist Introduction is a Struggle
It seems to be easier for people with art degrees, especially MFAs, to proclaim their profession to the world. This might be because there is a physical piece of paper that says you completed a curriculum to the satisfaction of an institution.
There isn’t an official governing body that confers the title of artist on anyone. You don’t have to pass any state licensing boards or get certified.
For most people, there is no turnkey moment when they say, “NOW I know I’m an artist.” It’s more of a slow, steady slog on the way to the title.
This is why it can be difficult to introduce yourself when you are in the process of becoming.
But this shouldn’t stop you from trying.
Why You Should Care About Introducing Yourself as an Artist
Introducing yourself as an artist is the beginning of your professional relationship with another person. Not introducing yourself as an artist results in missed opportunities.
When you stop apologizing for your art . . . when you stop waffling on your purpose . . . others begin to view you as the artist you want to be. And even though you may not be perfectly comfortable with the title, this buy-in from others will boost your confidence.
So stop introducing yourself with a label from your day job. Lead with this: I’m an artist. It's really that simple.
What You Should Say
Your artist introduction is all about how you respond when someone asks, So, what do you do?
This isn’t an opportunity for a commercial about your work. It’s a chance for real connection.
When someone asks what you do, let’s face it, they are mostly being polite. They are exploring how far they want to carry the conversation. They’re looking for something to relate to.
All you have to say is: I’m an artist.
You’re looking to engage the other person, not to control the conversation. If there is interest, the other person will ask questions.
You should be prepared to follow up with a brief (!) sentence or two about your work. Again, you’re looking for conversation, so make sure your language is inviting and intriguing.
Don’t inflate your position. Don’t be that person.
Make it natural, but own it. Say it with confidence.
Those with whom you were meant to connect will respond positively. Don’t worry about the rest. You have higher things to concern yourself with. You’re an artist.
Introducing yourself as an artist is a cornerstone of your professional presentation. Pulling this together with a well-honed artist statement, bio, and marketing packet will increase your confidence dramatically.
This post was original published on January 15, 2014 and has been updated with comments left intact.