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Four Communication Skills Every Art Student Should Master

In today’s world, communication is quickly evolving, offering us more options than ever before. It’s important to learn how to effectively and properly communicate with others, and there is no better place than college to hone these skills. Whether you are talking on the phone, texting, emailing, video chatting, direct messaging, or chatting online, you are engaging in a form of communication; and if you are an art student, you will quickly realize that communication skills are necessary for success. Artrepreneur sat down with Heather Pontonio, Art Program Director at Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, to outline some important communication skills that every art student should master.

Develop Verbal Communication Skills for Artists

As an art student, you will be required to not only display your work but also explain it. You will also have many class assignments, including in-class presentations and group projects designed to boost verbal communication skills. “Students need to learn and know how to be their own small business and advocate for themselves,” says Pontonio. The way an art student can do that, she says, is by learning and improving their communication skills through practice.

College can help students learn how to communicate their ideas about art verbally by discussing their work and that of others. Pontonio says that while students do learn some communication skills in school, it is still difficult because they are so isolated. “Networking events are important for students to attend because they force them to step outside of their comfort zone and talk to people they do not know,” she says. Having good verbal communication skills for artists will benefit them in the professional world, because they will learn how to work with others, engage with their audience, and effectively communicate their skills and expertise.

Master Keen Listening Skills

To become a better communicator, you must be willing to listen so you can understand other people’s perspectives. As an art student, some of the most important learning is based on understanding and conveying complex ideas and points of view. Communication is all about the flow of ideas from one person to another, therefore a good listener will be attentive and engaged. For artists, listening is key, since often times artists are inspired from something they learn from another artist. In college, many courses are taught lecture-style, which forces art students to learn to be better listeners. This is beneficial in the professional world because people want to work with others who are open to new ideas.

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Artists should learn that listening is an important first step to being an effective communicator.

Hone Your Writing and Presentation Skills for Artists

An art education means thinking outside of the box. Art school facilitates skills in presenting information to people through artistic mediums. Along with developing visual presentation skills, such as generating visual aids and supplementary materials, comes the importance of written communication skills. Making artwork is a great way of showing culture and history from various time periods, but if there was no text to go with the work, we would have trouble figuring out why or when they were created.

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One of the hardest tasks facing the average art student is explaining what their artwork is visually communicating. College writing assignments help to teach critical thinking and writing skills needed to communicate these ideas and art techniques. Each course you take in college comes with different writing assignments, which help students acquire and practice their writing skills. “Knowing how to write well will benefit students in the future when composing professional emails,” Pontonio says. Her advice to students is to keep your professional emails brief and to the point. Hopefully, an art student will have learned that they need to double check and proofread their messages from their countless college essays.

Develop Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are life skills we use every day, whether we are communicating with people individually or in group settings. People who have worked to develop these skills are typically more successful in their personal and professional lives. College gives students the opportunity to develop these skills through interactions with different types of people inside and outside of the classroom, including friends, professors, and administrators. It is very important for the art student to learn how to interact with different types of people since interpersonal skills are of the most important qualities employers or potential clients look for when hiring new talent. After all, employers and clients want to hire people who work well within a team and can communicate well with colleagues, customers, and clients. Pontonio says that interpersonal skills are necessary for everyone and can help frame an artist’s career path.

Scores of artists have recounted how the interpersonal skills they developed as an art student proved to be the single most important skill set they developed in college. “When you’re young, you talk to everybody,” contributing artist Ellen Harvey told Business Insider. “Your career gets its own momentum once you start meeting people.”

communication skills for artists
Being able to write about and convey the message behind your work is key.

Andy Omega, a painter who makes a living selling art on the street in SoHo told Complex that being gregarious with potential buyers is likely his biggest success factor. “I’ve made fantastic connections. My life is funded by selling this artwork. It’s kinda funny the way it happens; people have hive mind. Someone sees someone buy this Lolita piece and goes, ‘Oh do you have another one of those?’ or ‘Can you make one for me?’ and then all of a sudden you’re swiping credit cards, wrapping stuff up,” he says.

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As evidenced by this account, artists need to have good communication skills in order to interact with their customers and other artists. Artists need to have excellent interpersonal skills in order to connect well with others and succeed in their chosen career.

If you’re an art student that’s stumped about how you can develop better communication skills, consider turning to a familiar resource. Take a college course on communication skills, join a debate team, or spend time practicing speaking in public your fellow art students. Ask a mentor to review your written communication style, attend artist lectures to develop your listening and comprehension skills, and spend a lot of time networking to get used to feeling comfortable around people you might not know. When it comes to developing communication skills for artists, practice is key.

Are you an art student? Which communication skills do you want to master?

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About the author

Kate Mackie

Kate is an intern at Orangenius.

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