There are certain expectations of artists who are professionals: their resume must include several residencies and grants; they must be represented by a gallery or several if possible; they must have shown in national juried exhibitions; and yes a website is also a prerequisite. Should workshops also be a part of the complete artist’s vitae as well?
Some artists may feel that workshops are ill-advised or not worthwhile. I’ve even seen artists’ blogs who claim never to have taken a workshop,—to be completely self-taught. I find that hard to believe since we are constantly copying and adapting techniques from others.
I for one believe workshops can benefit an artist, whether they have an MFA or not. I have participated in several. Some of which have allowed me to move forward with my work (although in a very different ways.) Others have only provided a few techniques or tidbits of marketing information. However, by selecting carefully and preparing in advance, I have never felt that I didn’t get my money’s worth.
Workshops provide you with an opportunity to gain new insights into your own work and through networking allow you to “talk shop” with an entirely new group of professionals. And yes, it is challenging to submit your work to a brand new set of critics, but also liberating. To leave satisfied, you must listen with an open mind, ask questions even if you feel they are naïve, and be willing to try something new—sometimes again and again.
Don’t be surprised if all of the AHA moments do not occur during the workshop sessions. I have had many occur days, weeks, or even months after I returned to the studio. In fact, I am still waiting for that moment from my last workshop. ,