As an artist you are also an art salesman. Especially if you are trying to get in a gallery by going to Thursday night openings. If an art opening starts at 7 get there at 7. The owner will be anxiously milling about wondering if anyone will show up and there you are. Dress noticeably well. Look like you walked out of the pages of Vanity Fair magazine. Do not dress in a painter’s uniform of Dr. Marten’s, tee shirt and paint splattered pants. That look is over. Get a nice suit from a thrift store and have it tailored for about $14. If you are female do not show up in clothes you have made yourself. Do not try to look “interesting”. Get a perfume spritz and buy something hot at Bloomingdale’s. Return it the next day.
Compliment the director/owner on their insight and fine choice of art. Even if, and it surely will be, a horrid a pile of dung. Laugh rotundly at any attempt at nervous wit he or she may proffer.
You are essentially a donut maker-guy going into a donut store. Like Yum Yum Donuts. They have plenty of donuts already. The donuts they have are not selling particularly well. They do not want more donuts. It does not matter if you think your donuts are better. They do not care. They want to sell their donuts. They do not want to see you.
Do not under any circumstances bring art cards from your latest group show in Bushwick. This is critical: Do not bring up that you are an artist unless directly asked “…and what do you do?” by the director. Write this on your hand if necessary. I know you have spent way too much time alone in your studio and have this pressing need to tell them about your work and how great it would lo
ok on their walls. They do not care. They are thinking about themselves and the art they have to sell. Just like you are thinking about yourself and the art you would like to sell.
At the gallery, stay away from the bottom shelf champagne and especially the cheese tray. This was not set out for you. The cheese is from Costco by way of China or somewhere and will immediately clog your carotid arteries.
Gradually, as the gallery fills up, make your way to the outside of the room and then to the door. As you go, take all the business cards you can. Accept each card with both hands and examine it as if you have been given a miraculous gift. Thank the person and keep moving to the door. As you exit the building throw all the material you have collected in the nearest dumpster. Remember, no good ever comes from a business card picked up at a cocktail party or a gallery opening.
Repeat as necessary, until you are in the gallery. It may take awhile. Pick up the book by our dear friend Molly Barnes, “How to Get Hung”. It is invaluable.
And don’t forget the donuts.