Listening to artists talk is both entertaining and valuable. You get a sense of who they are as people. You learn about the inspirations and motivations behind their work. And you find out about their studio and creative processes.
Beginners are inspired by listening to artists who have traveled a little farther down the path. All of us who share in the profession gain insights and strategies from listening to our colleagues talk about their experiences.
Listening to artists is so universally valued that nearly every art school or art department has some version of a Visiting Artist Program where guest artists talk with students and give public lectures.
Fortunately, in our media-centric world, we have access to lots of videos of artists talking about their work and sharing their insights. You don’t need to be enrolled at a school in order to hear some great talks. Museums, television networks and other online sites have impressive collections of artist talks available for anyone to watch.
Here are just a few of the many sites available. Each of these sites has dozens of videos you can see on demand. To give you a sense of what the collections are like I’ve included a sample from each of them.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection is titled Meet the Artist.
This is a short video from the Smithsonian’s collection featuring the painter Sam Gilliam.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a collection of videos titled Artists Working, Artists Talking.
Here is a video from the SFMOMA collection. In this video David Best talks about the temples he builds for the Burning Man Festival.
The Tate Museum in London has an extensive collection of artist videos.
This profile of the Singh Twins is from the Tate’s collection of videos. In it they describe their work overlaying imagery from British and Indian cultures.
Art:21 – Art in the 21st Century is a PBS series and educational archive devoted exclusively to contemporary artists and art.
In this video from Art:21 artist/activist Caroline Woolard describes how she and her friends created a real estate investment cooperative in order to provide affordable living and working spaces for artists in New York City.
Architectural photographer Jim Stephenson and film maker Edward Bishop have collaborated to produce a series of short videos featuring contemporary British artists and designers talking about their inspiration and working process. The series is titled Lightbulb.
In this video from Stephenson and Bishop, graphic artist Kate Moross describes her working process designing materials for recording companies and their artists.