Who is my audience?

Following on from our recent lecture, I thought I ought to look at who my audience is (and who I might want them to be).

At present, I have a very limited audience. It consists of me, friends, family, colleagues, cohort and anyone who stumbles over my blog! I’m not sure if, at the moment at least, I am bothered about having a wider audience.

The work I make is to evoke a memory. A feeling I had about somewhere whilst I was there. Usually it is about colour or something I have found visually stunning when there. Some of my audience will connect with that because they were there with me at the time, or because they have heard about it from me. But to a more general audience, that will be lost on them. Does that matter? Is there some way that I should portray that feeling to them in another way prior to seeing this work? Should there be text and sound prior to this or should it accompany the piece? Or does that not matter? A hint at that would allow the audience to feel what they want to feel from the piece and not be constrained by my intentions.

I think I want the audience to FEEL something from my work – like a memory of their own – without me defining what it is. Perhaps I want them to remember a time when they saw a fabulous sunset, or experienced lots of wind somewhere and the sound associated with that. Without me imposing on them what that should be.

I create the work because I have a need to replicate these memories in more than just the photograph I took at the time (which is what I use as source material). In my head I can remember the experience. I would create this work whether I have an audience or not. Prior to now, a lot of that work has been adapted into pieces for my home – a reason for being – rather than being a piece of art for art’s sake.

Perhaps I am afraid of what people will say about my work, but perhaps I am also not bothered as it is more about capturing my memories or feelings about a place.

My main criteria for success are:

  • Did I enjoy making it?
  • Do I like the end result?
  • Does it evoke the memory?

I’m not really bothered about other people’s responses to it because it is about MY memory. If anyone else feels something from it, they will have their own feelings and responses. Is that self-indulgent? Who says art can’t be self-indulgent?

At the moment, my pieces are about beauty. But I can see this changing as time goes on. I already have some ideas about conveying movement and busyness. I can imaging ugliness or beauty within that, may come into play along the line. Anything that creates a strong memory within me – or a feeling I can convey with a composite is fair game as far as I am concerned.

If someone commissions me to do a piece, then I feel that might compromise what I did. It certainly wouldn’t be my sole intent anymore. Any parameters they give would be a compromise. Whether it be size, or colour etc. whatever it is would be a restriction. Also payment promised may (at least for now) be too much pressure.

I am, however, pleased to put a piece in a gallery and ask for payment. If someone feels my work is worth paying what I request, then I am happy to let it go. At this stage it isn’t like I can create an exclusivity to myself (in the way that Satchi and Emin and Hurst do) – so paying a rate to cover my time and materials is fine for now. Commission on top of that. And if someone wants to pay that then great. Not sure I could cope with the pressure to create something from a commission yet.

My audience is not restricted to any particular type I don’t think. Anyone can look at it and understand it – in terms of seeing my memory. And they can take what they want from it. I don’t have any political or challenging messages to my work. It is about remembering something you cherish. Maybe people will find my work gaudy or in your face or contrived. All I am worried about is whether it captured what I was feeling.

I want to try to push my work out into the public domain. And am hoping to expand into this area later in the year. At first, I would prefer these to be remote – too hard for me to get to – so I can feel more comfortable about my work before being challenged about it face to face. But once I have a few good pieces created, I intend to start applying for exhibits.

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