"I see you're drawing. Will you draw a picture of me?&q

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Fatal-Noogie
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13 Apr 2014, 8:54 pm

I use drawing/sketching as a coping mechanism at parties, bar scenes, coffee shops, etc.
I draw people, props, architecture, anything to keep myself visually engaged in my environment.

But ... I very often get interrupted by,

Quote:
I see you're drawing. Will you draw me?

Sometimes I feel like replying,
Quote:
I hear you're using words. Will you write a poem about me?

I understand why they approach me with requests, but I don't like it for several reasons.
I tend to draw people who happen to be in interesting light at interesting angles.
When I get requests, they tend to face forward in generic poses in boring or insufficient light,
and some won't hold still at all. (If I didn't draw, I would do the same things they do, but still.)
Even when they're generous and they pay me for a sketch, which I don't feel I deserve, I'll
still wish I had drawn what I wanted instead.
I don't like having the pressure to meet an arbitrary standard that I find boring.

How do I let people know I don't like requests, without seeming rude?

I've never been a musician, but I suspect they can relate to this. ( "Will you play my favorite song? ... Why not?" )


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Naturalist
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14 Apr 2014, 12:57 am

This is difficult! I love to sketch, but have never been able to develop a habit of it in public places, partly for the reason you mention. Here is why it bothers me:

1) Drawing helps me focus my thoughts. If someone approaches me, they have disrupted or distracted that focus.

2) I enjoy drawing people at a distance, but I hate looking intensely at people face-to-face--it makes me very uncomfortable.

3) I don't like people watching me while I work, and I don't want to talk about my work. Even for compliments.

I don't understand why people expect that if you are artistically inclined, you will want to turn that inclination into a social opportunity. Frequently, I will have an urge to draw or write as a means of "tuning out" the social environment around me! I think people ask for you to draw them because people like seeing how an artist might perceive them. (And people think I am self-centered!)

I used to offer lots of advice to artists when I worked in an art supply store, but this one has me stumped... Sorry I can't offer an answer. I can think of "polite" things to say, like, "thanks for your interest" but it seems very insincere when what I really want to say is something like, "leave me alone!"



Tahitiii
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14 Apr 2014, 3:27 am

I don't pretend to know what that's like, but I had a thought.

Could you tell them that this is therapy, and that you're just getting to the most productive part? That if you stop now, it will disrupt your focus.



BirdInFlight
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14 Apr 2014, 5:20 am

I really like Tahitiii's suggestion about informing the person that this is therapy!! While reading this thread I was stumped and couldn't think of a polite response myself, as this is a quandary for sure.

But the therapy angle sounds like it would really make a person back off in respect for that. Telling someone that you're engaged in an activity for therapeutic reasons really changes the tone and I don't think many people would want to intrude on that once they know.

I think I will work that advice into a couple of my own situations where people tend to interrupt my process.

.



Aspie1
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14 Apr 2014, 6:49 am

I don't recommend revealing to a stranger that you're doing it as therapy. There are too many people out there who will turn it into a joke against you. Instead, make their request sound impossible. Unless you're drawing a person from memory when make that request, you can do this. It's based on the fact that there are four basic categories of art: landscape, still life, portrait, and abstract. And most artists do not draw all of them. So...
Them: "I see you're drawing. Will you draw me?"
You: "I don't do portraits; I only do [another type of art]."

Of course, you still run the risk of well-intentioned people telling you: "Oh, that's OK. Can you try anyway?" With them, just be persistent and keep saying no. Try saying that you don't draw portraits, and their picture will turn out bad. If this happens in public, and they keep pestering you, don't feel uncomfortable about threatening to call security or even the police. (You're kind of SOL, if you're at a private party; just pack up your setup and leave, if it gets too bad).

The source of these ignorance-driven interruptions is this. Many art fairs or street festivals have a exhibits with artists painting people. You pay them $20 or so, and they paint a picture of you. Whether it's realistic, a caricature, or abstract, it depends on the artist. So people see you drawing, it reminds them of those festival exhibits, and sadly, makes them take your work less seriously.



BirdInFlight
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14 Apr 2014, 9:15 am

I also like the idea of making it seem like portraits would be impossible/turn out badly, as a way to deflect the request. That would be effective.

But I do think there is a way to work in the "Ohh, it's more just a therapeutic activity for me, a way to get quiet time, etc" angle without engendering jokes or mocking or something negative. Most people with any manners will back off politely if someone puts them in the picture about trying to get some relaxation/alone time/therapeutic hobby time, etc.

To the OP -- is there anything you can do with your body language to dissuade people from approaching? It may not always work, but perhaps even small things like making sure you are leaning away from the general crowd, turned slightly inward to the nearest wall, and trying to shield your drawing pad -- not in an obvious way but enough to make it seem like you're not hoping to be "on show" somehow (not that I'm saying you do that), but more like you are giving off signals that it's almost a surreptitious activity. You may have tried this already, as there's a way to have very open body language that seems to invite approach, or closed that would discourage most people, plus degrees of those in between, and experimenting might result in subtle changes in those around you.



Saul3903
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14 Apr 2014, 5:18 pm

If it was me, I would say "Sure, I do commissions, but I'm working on something else at the moment." then hand them a flyer with pricing and an email address, and tell them to hit me up if they wanna make an appointment.

Most will leave you alone once they have something in their hands, and very few will never bother to actually contact you. On the off chance they do send you an email, this gives you the option to ignore them (much easier over email) or give them what they want, but on YOUR terms. You can't lose.


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Fatal-Noogie
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14 Apr 2014, 8:48 pm

Tahitiii wrote:
Could you tell them that this is therapy, and that you're just getting to the most productive part? That if you stop now, it will disrupt your focus.
Yeah, I could say it's therapeutic. I hesitate to call it "productive". They may get suspicious when I change drawings abruptly, or if I need to wait a half hour before I get my next idea for a drawing. They'd still think that's a half hour when I could have been drawn them - not realize it's part of my thinking process.

I thought of a funny idea. I should devote the first 4-or-so pages to each new sketchbook to intentionally TERRIBLE DRAWINGS, and when people move to where they can see, I can quickly flip to those pages and pretend I just started learning to draw that week. ;)
... Of course, if they know how to draw then I may have to listen to their advice on artistic techniques that I already know. :roll:

Naturalist wrote:
2) I enjoy drawing people at a distance, but I hate looking intensely at people face-to-face--it makes me very uncomfortable.
If I can convince the other person to stand wherever while I move to the opposite end of the room, that helps reduce awkward eye contact. 8O (It's not an ideal solution.)

Naturalist wrote:
I think people ask for you to draw them because people like seeing how an artist might perceive them.
That's the catch. I don't know what to think of someone I met 15 seconds ago. My perception necessarily lacks insight.
The ego-centrism I don't mind so much. I like getting requests from friends to draw them "whenever", because it gives me the time to think over a meaningful composition, and choose the reference photos that have the most interesting visual elements. And if it turns out bad, I can throw it away and start again and they never have to know.

Naturalist wrote:
3) I don't like people watching me while I work, and I don't want to talk about my work. Even for compliments.
Same here. Tho I do appreciate when people compliment the paintings I put hours into. But when they compliment the scribbles and thumbnails that I just used for brainstorming I feel awkward, like they're just trying desperately to find something nice to say. I wouldn't tell a poet, "Wow! You wrote such an excellent shopping list."

Aspie1 wrote:
If this happens in public, and they keep pestering you, don't feel uncomfortable about threatening to call security or even the police.
Nobody has ever pestered me to that extreme. I don't think anyone wants a portrait done by a severely disgruntled artist. If they tried to get one, they would only get a severely disgruntled portrait. :tongue:

Saul3903 wrote:
If it was me, I would say "Sure, I do commissions, but I'm working on something else at the moment." then hand them a flyer with pricing and an email address, and tell them to hit me up if they wanna make an appointment.

Most will leave you alone once they have something in their hands, and very few will never bother to actually contact you. On the off chance they do send you an email, this gives you the option to ignore them (much easier over email) or give them what they want, but on YOUR terms. You can't lose.
That's an idea, but I think the cards and prices are a little too involved. I don't want to setup a business, but I could tell them to inquire later by email. That will weed out the people who are so drunk they only think they want an illustrated portrait, and who presumably loose interest in the drawing when sober. Then I can address the people for whom it would actually mean something.

Mostly it's the monotony that's boring. If ever I hear someone say "Hey, will you draw a picture of that knarly oak for me?" or "Draw what this city will look like in 100 years," or "draw the internal anatomy of an insect on the moon Titan," we will instantly be friends. :D (I'm not saying I would do a good job drawing that, but I'd certainly enjoy trying.)


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Ganondox
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18 Apr 2014, 12:36 am

Just tell them that you are busy working on a project and can't be interrupted.


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