Monday, December 12, 2011

Mixed Messages

A large part of our job as artists is to decipher, interpret and then deliver what the client wants.  A client could be a director, an art gallery owner, someone who commissioned you for creative work or even the audience that you love to perform for.  Figuring out what people want often isn't easy.  Many times, they don't even know what they are looking for, "but when they see it, they'll know".

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard that line before and how I think it's an excuse on their end so they don't have to effectively communicate to you what they're looking for.  You may get lucky sometimes and get an explanation of what they want, but it's often a contradictory mish-mash of adjectives that don't make any sense.

I've collected quite a few examples from audition notices that are quite humorous and down-right confusing.  Allow me to share some of my favorites with you, with my thoughts/comments in bold.

Looking for "Chinese or Chinese mix or Chinese base ie, Vietnamese Chinese or Taiwanese."  [I didn't know the Chinese ethnicity was a base mixing ingredient.]

Wardrobe: Brown or khaki cotton twill work shirt or polo shirt or anything.  [Anything?  I guess being specific was too tiring, so they gave up.] 

Seeking American born Chinese male, also able to play authentic Chinese born, slightly autocratic, but friendly, commanding and resolute.  [How do I play/emote a birthplace?  And you want me to be a soft bad-ass?]

Looking for friendly, intelligent patriarch not goofy or oafish.  Attractive, but not model.  [I don't know how to do mediocre good looks.]

Needs to be truly Chinese.  From China or parents born there.  [So if my Chinese parents were born in the U.S., then I'm not truly Chinese?  When do most people lose their ethnicity?]  

Seeking someone interesting/attractive/cool looking.  A fashion designer (probably furniture, not clothing) or exporter.  [I didn't know there was such a thing as a fashion furniture designer.  Exporter?  First of all, random.  Second, I didn't know they had a unique look.]

Seeking normal everyday looking Asian guy.  Wardrobe is casual but should look like he lives in a small far away village.  HE MUST NOT LOOK MODERN!  HE MUST NOT LOOK AMERICAN!  [A rice farmer's hat is not part of my everyday casual look]

Need someone cool, but not too cool.  [I'm not sure how to play mediocre cool.]

These were some of the descriptions that made me laugh/writhe in pain/reconsider my acting career.  But on the flip side, are you clear and concise on what you want as an artist?  If I were to ask you: Why do you want to be an artist?  What do you want to accomplish as an artist?  What do you want to show the world with your art?  Would you be able to communicate your answers clearly without throwing around a bunch of contradictory adjectives?

Being able to effectively communicate your desires as an artist will allow other people to understand you as an artist and then they can begin to appreciate your art.

Be clear on what you want and tell the world!

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