Two emotions, that in my opinion, are not particularly useful in art are fear & envy. Today I'm going to address the first, Fear & perhaps talk about envy in another post.
Melissa Lee, who I recently did a show with at Pecola wrote in a recent blog post about finding her voice, some of the struggles that she had. "Too shy to approach people at shows, I attended arts events by myself and failed at the whole networking thing." I'm totally felt this way in the past, especially when I was fresh out of college. I've gone to art openings, slithered around the room looking at the work and rushed out, all without saying a word.
I tried a couple of things, specifically in regards to art openings that's made the experience immeasurably better. I still look at the art, but I'm usually more at ease while talking to strangers.
1. Go with a friend, mentor or teacher who is more experienced and can introduce you to people. This introduction can make following experiences easier. Don't forget to extend the favor to other artists once you become more comfortable.
2. Have grace for yourself. Set the bar low at first, try talking to one person who you don't know. I'm an introvert, so I find social interactions to be quite draining overall, so sometimes when trying to improve my abilities I would fail. Its okay, though.
3. Come up with some questions. Develop some icebreakers that anyone can answer, whether they are an arts professional or not. A really simple question that I like to fall back on is, "What's your favorite piece in the show?"
4. Practice talking about your work, background & job before you go. I find that practicing talking out loud by myself to be my secret weapon. This helps when trying to explain in a social situation, it can really ease the nervousness of the setting.
I hope that you find these tips helpful & tell me about any tips, tricks you got to make fear disappear at openings.