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workshop advice

updated tue 5 oct 10


Steven Branfman on mon 20 aug 01

Vince is absolutely right in his remarks about not devulging the name of the
workshop site or presenter. One person's (or more than one for that matter)
opinion does not make for fact. It meerly expresses their experience. More
harm than good will be done by bantering around the names of people and
places who have disappointed you. As someone who has lived both sides, as a
presenter and as an attendee I can tell you that it is hard to please all the
people all the time. As a presenter I certainly try my best but sometimes
there is someone who for whatever reason remains unsatisfied. I am not saying
that this person is wrong. On the contrary, they are correct and certainly
entitled to express their opinion. However, there are many factors that
contribute to a successfull workshop including an accurate description of the
content and all of the aspects that have to do with the hosting instituition
that are often out of the hands of the presenter. Sometimes the expectations
of a participant are unrealistic. Sometimes the description is
unintentionally misleading. Sometimes, sometimes............But here is some an attendee you are in the hands of the
presenter and there is always something to learn and something positive to
take away with you. Don't be silent (but don't be obnoxious either) during
the workshop. Ask questions and be a "participant" not just an observer. Be
open and receptive and let the presenter do their thing.

Steven Branfman
The Potters Shop
31 Thorpe Rd.
Needham MA 02494, USA
781 449 7687
fax: 781 449 9098

Patti Petit on sun 3 oct 10

A lot of it depends on the presenter. I think it is important to always lea=
ve them wanting more. That said, some of the best presentations I have atte=
nded were done by artists with long careers and a large and interesting bod=
y of work. Having watched them demonstrate they actually let us inside thei=
r psyche, meeting their muse, sharing their thoughts which were not always =
directly clay related. You might want to try out some approaches on a frien=
d whose opinion you value and who values your work.
Patti windy NE GA

Lili Krakowski on sun 3 oct 10

Congrats, James and all good wishes.

I have given a few workshops and have attended some. They are =3D
occasions akin to meeting in-laws, new co-workers, etc. You will be the =
exciting new kid, they will be as eager to please you, as you them. =3D
Yes, there will be a few idiots. Como no...There will be some who want =3D
to be able to say forever that they are bosom buddies of THE James =3D
Freeman. Others eager to tell you that Tillie Goofball with whom they =3D
took a workshop wherever, does it another way, and a few who want your =
entire attention. You have lived in the real world, so you deal with =3D
them the same way you do in real world. From your message your audience =
will be college students and some inner discipline will =3D

I gather Power Point is a fancy new improved slide show thing. Fine. =3D
Many--like me--fall asleep at slide shows and planetaria--not the topic, =
the constant flickering of light. So take breaks. =3D20

1. At the very start say something ":human" and identifying about =3D
yourself. Not your whole private life, just a few words about how you =3D
came to clay, why, and --assuming you had a previous career-- what led =3D
to the transition and blah blah blah. I start by explaining my accent, =
how that relates to my good fortune in having Frans Wildenhain as =3D
teacher, blah blah blah. If you have travelled extensively like Steve =3D
Slatin then IF and only IF what you have seen abroad has influenced your =
work, tell'em that.

2. Stick to the topic. Stick to the topic. Stick to the topic. Too =3D
often while rolling out slabs, or wedging or centering the presenter =3D
wanders off topic. When you do whatever give some background info. As, =3D
when wedging, you could talk about different methods, about stinky =3D
clay, about being careful recycled clay does not have fallen things in =3D
it--like Xacto knives, and beer bottle caps. I invited a friend to =3D
come down to Syracuse to hear a lecture, announced, advertized, as =3D
being about ***. The lecturer spent like 5 minutes talking about *** =3D
and then talked about himself the rest of the time. NO! Stick to the =3D
topic you are supposed to discuss. =3D20

3. If you want to show slides of your early work, by all means relate it =
to NOW. Skip the "you see what a klutz I was, now I am a genius". Show =
them what actually might be interesting and related to them. "Here is =
an early piece. That particular rim runs through all my work". "I =3D
used to love dark brooding 'Wuthering Heights' glazes. I evolved into =3D
bright cheerful ones because...." No one cares about your baby =3D
pictures...(As more of my friends are becoming grandparents, let me =3D
repeat: no one cares about baby pictures. It's a baby. It is yours. =3D
Fine. Let it go!)

4. A couple of workshops I have attended have been ruined because on =3D
the first night of the workshops participants had a drunken party, the =3D
presenter drank along with them, the second day was a hangover disaster. =
Need I say more?

5. Have lifesavers with you. Yes, a change of clothes. Your clothes =3D
well may get a bucket of slip dumped over them. Extra glasses. =3D
Someone may step on them. Just be prepared. The worst-that-happens =3D
only is the worst when you have not anticipated it.

6. You are a charming brilliant lovable guy., They will get that =3D
message instantly, and a good time will be had by all!!!!!!

Bon voyage, and congrats again

rickmahaffey@COMCAST.NET on mon 4 oct 10

I have presented and attended many=3DC2=3DA0workshops/lectures to audiences=
re there were at least 7 languages spoken.=3DC2=3DA0=3D20

=3DC2=3DA0In those cases pictures are very important.=3D20

We work in a visual medium so lots of pictures are important.=3DC2=3DA0 As =
cusi said "Why talk about sculpture when we can take a picture".=3DC2=3DA0=

Having clear information is paramount.=3DC2=3DA0=3D20

Any written information on a slide=3DC2=3DA0should be clear and large enoug=
h to=3D
be seen from anywhere in the room.=3DC2=3DA0 I plan for rooms with at leas=
t 10=3D
0 feet (30M) from front to back.=3D20

Written information should also be short because many people will want to c=
opy down the information.=3D20

If you are in a situation where there is translation, keep statements short=
, or break them up into one or two sentences.=3D20

The worst talk ever at one of these international conference was a person w=
ho talked for some 30=3DC2=3DA0 minutes (seemed much longer) with only thei=
r na=3D
me on the screen.=3DC2=3DA0 The presenter then spoke at length while rapidl=
y cl=3D
icking through the 15-20 pictures (5 to 10 seconds each) then proceeded to =
talk more while the screen showed her name again.=3DC2=3DA0 This was schedu=
led =3D
to be a 25 minute talk in a tight schedule.=3D20

Among the best was a talk by Paul Soldner in 1980 who used two slide projec=
tors and kept the photos moving as he talked first one slide then the other=
fading one in and one out.=3DC2=3DA0 His words worked perfectly in concert=
h his pictures.=3DC2=3DA0 The talk was 40 minutes and it just flew by!=3D20

I like using a lot of images - I show up to 100+ images in a 50 minute Art =
Appreciation lecture - and keeping the language simple when the concepts ar=
e complex.=3DC2=3DA0 I also like to spend a little time reviewing at the en=
d of=3D
the talk and I always ask for people to tell me if I am going too fast.=3D=

It seems people usually want to see more photos of your work or pictures th=
at show information on the topic.=3D20


Rick Mahaffey=3D20

Tacoma Community College=3D20

6501 So 19th St.=3D20

Tacoma, WA 98466=3D20