First Impressions

I sat out in the sunshine this morning with my sketchbook and got to thinking about the weekend that just passed and all the new people I’ve been meeting recently. Zac and his family came to visit me and we had a great day out in Prince Edward County which consisted of a stop at the Waring House for lunch, Karlo Estates winery, Vickis Veggies seedling sale and a stop for dinner in Bloomfeild. As we sat sipping wine, talking and people watching at Karlo Estates (my favourite winery) the owner came around to shake hands with customers and say hello. Watching all of these introductions take place, I couldn’t help but notice there were some good handshakes and ones that made me cringe like: the people who think a handshake is done with the tips of your fingers alone like they’re shaking the hand of a baby dinosaur.

I remember learning the importance of a good handshake before my first job interview and practicing with my dad. I think it’s an important skill to have. After all a handshake is often the first opportunity to contradict first impressions based on preconceived ideas from a person’s appearance like: appearing weak, with facts like: being strong.

I think this idea of first impressions and first meetings translates to art and design as well. When we first look at a piece of art we make judgements about it based on appearance but maybe we need to shake hands? Unfortunately we can’t shake the hand of every artist whose work we look at but there are other ways that a deeper connection can be made. Often artwork will be accompanied by an artist statement; I think this piece of writing is the equivalent to a handshake, it’s how we meet the artwork and begin to see the way that the artist would like to introduce their work. If we look at artwork like we’re interviewing employees for a great new position in our roster of favourite art I wonder what would happen? When we meet an artwork and read the artist statement that is poorly written and is only shaking our fingertips like we’re the baby dinosaur, it is time to move on. When we meet an artwork that firmly shakes our hand and inspires us through it’s ability to clearly articulate a message, it is time to hire your first employee!

  • Have there ever been people or artworks that upon shaking their hand or reading the accompanying artist statement made you re-think your initial first impression? All the time.