Do You Have a Body of Work to Show? – Part I

by John R Math on January 14, 2013

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As an artist do you have a body of work to show interested parties? What is a body of work? Why is it important to have this? How do you develop a body of work? We will explore these subjects and more a series of two articles.

To me a body of work is a collection of an artist’s artwork which demonstrates an overall signature style. Simply put, it is artwork that is instantly recognizable to most people who appreciate art. We all know who the artist is when we see a Winslow Homer painting, an Andy Warhol print, or an Ansel Adams photograph. You recognize their art instantly as they created a body of work which they developed and perfected over a period of many years.

If you were asked by a gallery owner, art collector or by an art rep to see your artworks, could you show them a selection of 15 to 35 pieces of your art in a style, medium and subject matter that was consistent and memorable to that person? In other words, does your art distinguish you from all of the other artists that these people have seen?

What you are doing by having a body of work is demonstrating a mastery and expertise in that personal style, subject matter or media to a viewer of your artworks. By having a consistent body of work, you are drawing attention to your art in this manner rather than by showing your versatility in many styles of art. Gallery owners and art collectors want to see the mastery rather than versatility.

Every month we receive entries from artists who send us (within a group or entries) different media and different styles which show us that artist’s versatility but in reality, most of the winning artists generally show us a consistent style of art, in the same media and an overall mastery within that genre. When we visit the artist’s website we will also discover the same style is also shown there too.

Here is a quick way which will help an artist to develop their body of artwork. What is the one thing that you love to paint? What is the subject matter that fascinates you? What media do you favor more than anything else? What style of art excites and captivates your imagination? The answers to these questions will help direct your focus for all of your future creations and thus, you will begin to develop your own personal body of work.

Your body of work could be about a certain subject (landscapes, seascapes, still life etc.), or it could be on any subject whereby you employed a certain style or a unique media as your focus. Overall, this body of work becomes a collection of your artwork and by doing this you are showing a gallery owner, art collector or art rep that you can create art that is consistent within your distinctive style.

Do you have a signature style and a growing body of work to show? If not, it is time to begin this task and in by doing so successfully, you will soon take your art to the next level.

Our next post will continue about this subject when professional artist Lori McNee gives us her ideas on how to approach, develop and present a body of work in Part II of this subject.  Body of Work Part II Here

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