Art Jobs


Art Jobs: Art Gallery

Art Career Option: Consultant

I have to admit that I don't really know a lot about art consultants. From what I've read, they usually represent a group of artists and will work to sell the artists' work to museums, corporations and private collectors.

I am represented by a consultant, although I don't know if that's what she considers herself. She calls her business a gallery but she doesn't have a physical gallery space. She created a website for the gallery where she features several images from each artist. She contacts collectors and interior designers and if a client is interested in a piece, she will contact the artist and arrange to pick up the artwork. She will then take the artwork to the client's home or business so they can see if it matches their couch. Well, hopefully they make more sophisticated aesthetic judgements...

If she sells the piece, she keeps a percentage, much the same way that a gallery owner would.

I assume that consultants work in a similar way.

So this week I've begun sending packets to some consultants. I identified a few in the Art in America gallery guide that I've mentioned several times. I looked at their websites to see if they had submission guidelines and I don't think any of them did. So I just made sure I had the current address and tried to find a contact person.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation that features about 20 paintings, about 3 installation shots, my artist's statement, and my resume. I also included a version saved as a PowerPoint slide show, a version saved as a pdf document, and a folder that includes only the jpg images. Hopefully this will cover all the bases - accommodate all programs and platforms. I burned all of this to a CD.

I bought some 6" x 9" envelopes and made some mailing labels that match my letterhead. I included a cover letter, the CD and my brochure. I made a little sleeve for the CD out of the same letterhead paper.

I'll be sending out 14 total. Most of them are in New York but surprisingly about 3 or 4 were in Houston. I'll let you know what happens.

This article is excerpted from

Art Jobs: Museum

Art Jobs: Education

Art Career Options: Museums and Galleries

I went off on a tangent about consultants yesterday and forgot that I was supposed to talk about career options!

OK, let's talk about those career options. As I stated earlier, when I began my MFA program, I thought that the only viable career option was to teach on the college level. But I discovered that museum and gallery careers are also available for people with studio MFAs.

Some schools offer classes or degree programs in museum studies. If you're serious about museum work, then museum studies or art history are definitely the way to go. But studio art is also a good career path, as long as you also have some experience that they're looking for...

Curators usually require art history, but often registrar and education positions will only require an MFA. A registrar is a person who sort of organizes and takes care of the artwork in a museum. When artwork is donated or purchased, they will document the condition of the artwork and enter the information into a database. A registrar will work with curators and preparators, deal with insurance, loan agreements, and shipping.

I spoke with a registrar that works at a major museum in the area and she said that she often has to travel with the artwork. If a really big expensive piece is shipped somewhere, she will ride in the truck with it. Well, not IN the truck, but in the cab with the truck driver.

Museum education positions will sometimes require a background in education, but not always. Sometimes they will want someone with museum or gallery experience along with an MFA.

How do I get experience?
The best way to get experience is to volunteer. Some museums and galleries have paid internships, but most of the time the positions will be unpaid. The unpaid positions at major museums can be competitive and prestigious. But a smaller museum, local art gallery, or community art center will most likely be excited to have you as a volunteer. Just be willing to work and you'll learn a lot.

I got a lot of gallery experience while I was in grad school. I worked as a grad assistant in the university art gallery. I worked with another student, unpacking and packing artwork, arranging shipping, buying supplies, installing artwork, patching walls, organizing receptions, and marketing shows.

My university also has a student gallery in the student union that is completely run by students. I volunteered at the gallery director for a year and a half. The students were responsible for installing, patching, marketing, and receptions. Many of them had never had their own shows, so to help them, I put together a packet of information on hanging artwork, writing press releases, reception checklists, and other tips.

I also help the local art group with their shows. I've volunteered as the exhibition chairperson on several shows. This usually involves a LOT of organizational and delegation skills.

One summer I volunteered as an intern at a contemporary art center. I helped out with research, marketing, and exhibit installation.

So if you try, it's pretty easy to get experience in museums and galleries. The big trick, though, is to network. The jobs are very competitive and it helps to know people, talk to people, and ask lots of questions!

This article is excerpted from

Art Career Option:Teaching

Well, Jenna, and the mysterious "Anonymous," have asked what I didn't like about teaching...

When I decided to go to grad school, I knew that teaching was pretty much the only reason that people get MFAs. Not that I don't know plenty of people with MFAs who don't teach. It's just the standard career track - BFA, MFA, teaching position. And then you're expected to produce work and exhibit while you're teaching. And I do think that being in the creative/academic environment would be beneficial to keep one in touch with the art world.

So I went to grad school and kind of secretly hoped that I wouldn't have to teach. But I was eventually asked to teach a basic drawing class. It turned out to be two sections of basic drawing during one semester.

Now, I knew that teaching would be hard. Preparing lessons, finding still life items, doing demos and lectures - it all takes a lot of time and energy. And it turns out that all of that was even a lot harder than I had anticipated.

But, honestly, what turned me off to teaching (at least in the university environment) was that the students really didn't want to be there. I guess I had an unrealistic expectation that college students are adults and they wouldn't be there unless they wanted to be. Basic drawing was made up mostly of students in their first semester. And at least half of them really didn't care. They would do the absolute minimum (if that much), make lots of excuses when they couldn't, and expect a good grade.

I also didn't feel qualified to teach the material. I had been able to draw at one time, but it's definitely a skill that you have to practice. So I really felt like a fraud. Someone pointed out that I knew more than they did, and that was really the only way I made it through. I felt like I was just a step ahead of them.

I know when I take a class, the enthusiasm level of the instructor makes a big difference. If someone is really passionate about the subject and really loves to teach, then you'll probably have a good experience. I feel like if I can't be that, then the students are being short-changed.

That said, I do love to teach encaustic workshops. And I would love to teach bookmaking. I'm excited and passionate about those two things, and I feel comfortable with the material.

The encaustic workshops are a completely different audience. They're excited to be there and really want to learn, so it makes it really fun for me to teach.

Perhaps my perspective about teaching would be a lot different if I had felt that way about drawing.

So I guess I should have said that I decided I didn't want to teach art in a university. I enjoy teaching the workshops and I'll probably continue those as long as I can find people who want to take them.

There are artists who make a pretty good living teaching workshops along with selling their artwork. Some of them even develop a following. So workshop teaching is definitely a possible teaching venue for artists.

I'll talk more next time about some other career options.

This article is excerpted from




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