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7 Worst Mistakes New Artists Can Make in the Vital First Gallery Interview

November 6, 2013

If you want your art seen and you want it sold, your best bet is a private gallery on the high street. Today, you can start preparing for...


Your first interview with a private gallery director. It's the vital step in becoming a professional. It's so important to your future career that you ought to start thinking, today, about how you'll handle it when the day comes. From close to four decades of experience as both artist and gallery director, here are my top items to put on

Your list of 'Don'ts.'

1.Fail to phone ahead to confirm your appointment.

If you've made this mistake, it's unlikely this gallery will give you the chance to make another. A polite, brief check is the professional thing to do. So many unexpected events happen in a business day, it's only sensible to make sure you won't have a wasted trip. At this point, your value to the gallery people is an unknown and – sad but true -  it's unlikely they'll phone you to confirm.

2.Be late or too early for your appointment.

The base of simple good manners is respect and consideration for the other party. Even if the gallery has no visitors, its director will be busy behind the scenes. Just introduce yourself to the person on the front desk and in a polite way, ask for his or her name. Repeat it straightaway, as you thank her and again after you ask for directions on where you should wait.

3.Fail to bring your portfolio.
Painting and sculpture are all about images. No words can take the place of images. ( As a visual artist you know this, okay?) The director needs to make a quick decision on whether to take a chance on you. That decision is largely based on images of what you create. Of course, when you called to arrange an interview, you'd have asked which format the director prefers. Make sure you bring only that. If all goes well at the first meeting, you'll have the chance to show your work in other formats.

    When you demonstrate you value the director's time, she's more likely to ask you back or even make a visit to your studio.

4.Fail to turn off sound on your mobile device.

If you've made this mistake, don't compound it by answering any message on your mobile. No amount of charm will make up for the clear signal that you lack consideration for both the staff and any visitors present in the gallery.

5.Present yourself in an outlandish, 'arty' costume.

Professionals don't need to advertise their status with props. Behave like a professional from Day One and you'll be treated as one. As an artist, it's expected you're a playful character, not boring and in deadly earnest about yourself. But leave the party tricks for party-time. This is a business meeting.

6.Use unneccessary art 'jargon.'

If the need arises during conversation with the director - and if you truly understand the terms - a natural use of specialised language is fine. Otherwise, stick to your natural way of speaking  and let the director set the tone.

7.Talk yourself 'up' to gallery people.
Self-advertising is unlikely to impress either the director or her staff , unless it's backed up with evidence. If you had reviews of recent exhibitions of your art, you wouldn't be at this first interview, now would you? You wouldn't be reading this article on how to prepare for the interview, either.

    The day surely will come, if you persist with your art and your dream of having it shown to an  appreciative public. Ready yourself now, so when opportunity knocks, your door's open. Good Luck!

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