The large, front room at the newly formed Savannah Artist Collective (13 E. 39th St.) was full this past Tuesday evening for a panel discussion and conversation on “How to Host a Studio Visit”.
The panelists for the evening included:
Rachel Reese, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Telfair Museums
Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator at Telfair Museums
Anna Quinlivan, Gallery Director of the Grand Bohemian Gallery at The Mansion at Forsyth Park
The moderator for the evening was Stephanie Raines, Interpretation and Engagement Coordinator for Telfair Museums.
The discussion covered best practices and some helpful dos and don’ts relating to studio visits and the artist and curator relationship. For those who may have missed this lively discussion, here is a breakdown of the helpful information that was shared.
Before the Studio Visit
- Do your research to know something of the venue and person you are approaching. Does your work fit in with their exhibition mission? Is the physical space compatible with your work? Who are their clientele or patrons?
- Fill your ‘toolbox’ to set a professional tone. Have a business card, an artist bio, high resolution images of your work and a website or artist page.
- Consider the timing and place of your introduction. If it’s in-person, avoid putting a curator on the spot outside work hours or at an event they are hosting.
- Play it cool. Being pushy, overly aggressive, desperate or just plain rude will only hurt your cause. Instead, be friendly, considerate and respectful in your approach. A genuine interaction goes a long way to building a positive repertoire for a future relationship.
- Once you have contacted a gallery director or curator, give the person time to consider the information you sent them and time to respond.
- Once a studio visit is planned, clarify the intention so both parties know what to expect going in.
During the Studio Visit
- Respect the time of the person visiting your space by being on time and keeping the appointment.
- A welcoming environment goes a long way. Offer water and have a small snack like fruit or cheese and crackers prepared. When possible, make sure the space is a comfortable temperature, restock the toilet paper in the bathroom, and have a place available for your visitor to sit.
- Minimize distractions that come from pets, smartphone, or a tightly-scheduled appointment.
- Be prepared. Prioritize what you want to show and express during the visit. Do not overwhelm the visitor with every piece you’ve ever created. Present a clear vision of your work and who you are as an artist.
- Give the individual time and space to absorb and consider the work. Don’t press for immediate or continual reaction and definitive critique. Inquire about things that will add value to your work, i.e how they like a certain presentation, or if they know any places your work would be a good fit for.
- Show respect for your artwork in how you treat and display it. Stacked, cluttered, hidden, or shoved under and behind should not be the words people associate with your work. Have pieces accessible and easy to view. Any videos that require loading should be loaded and ready to play.
- Avoid constant reference to your website as a tool to show your work. Take this opportunity for the curator to connect with you and the work in person.
- Show the curator/gallerist respect. They are an important resource for you and for other people in their field. The experience you have with them (good or bad) can follow you when others go to them for a recommendation or reference.
After the Studio Visit
- Offer opportunities for the visitor to experience your work again, such as an upcoming exhibition, art fair or special event that enriches the relationship to your work.
- Utilize social media and create a mailing list where you set a reasonable schedule to update curators, potential buyers, and appreciators with new work and and works in progress. This may garner additional visits and keep your work fresh in their minds.
- Do studio visits with your friends, other artists, and non-curators/gallerists to practice speaking about your work, fine-tune your presentation, and have others know your work on a deeper level. One of them may pass your name to just the right person.
The Savannah Artist Collective will be hosting more professional development programming for artists in the months ahead. Look for a ‘Grants for Artists’ info session coming in September and inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org about scheduling a show in the newest exhibition spot on First Friday Art March.