New Graduate: How to make an impression!

by Valentina Fois

Summer is the time of the graduation shows. Every year thousands of young alumnus get off from school ready to rock n roll the Art world.

The competition is high and you should make sure to leave an impression on art collectors, curators and gallerists.

As a director and curator I get to meet many art students, from BA to MA. Often they send their CV to the gallery, or come in person to introduce themselves.

Here are my tips on how to make an impression, what to avoid and what to keep in mind:

1 Being professional will always pay you back.
I like people who speak their minds; when you are honest and express your own opinion, often people will recognize your value and take the time to listen to you. Don’t be afraid of taking a position, but always be aware not to overstep the mark. Everyone is different; with some curators, collectors, or gallerists you can be friendly and with some you have to keep the distance. Try to analyze who is in front of you, think twice before speaking and always be professional.

2 Introducing yourself by email
Try to avoid long emails, Arts Professionals often don’t have much time and are reluctant to engage with unsolicited proposals. If they like your work they don’t need to read your entire life story! Make sure to include all your contact details. Your signature shows that you are professional and know how to work.

3 Sending your CV
If you decide to send your CV to a gallery, make sure you provide them with all the right info: your telephone number, email address and a link to your website. Never take for granted that they know what you are talking about and who you are!

4 CV must be easy to read
Often people say that your CV needs to be catchy; well, I am not entirely sure about that. Avoid using too much bold, it looks like you are shouting, you don’t need to use 10 different colours and fonts. I believe that the key is to be well organized and tidy; a CV must be easy to read. You need to keep in mind that they probably see many CVs every day, so make it easy for them! Here is what I would like to see:

- One attractive image of your work
- Your contact details
- Your education
- Your shows
- Then you can add special projects/residencies and publications

If possible keep it 2 pages long, 1 is even better!

5 Select your works wisely
Please don’t send twenty thousand images of your work, nobody is going to see them, they will just make their computers crazy and even worse, their mobile devices! If you want to send images, then select the works that best describe your artistic practice, 2 or 3 images will do. Remember to always reduce the size and the resolution of the images, preferably send a jpg file because not everyone can open files with Photoshop, InDesign and so on.

6 Invest time into your website
Ideally before you approach anyone regarding your work you should have a website, this does not need to be fancy, even a blog will do. You just need to provide your listener with a virtual platform where he can browse your works. Often a curator will save the link of your page in a virtual list on their computer/ipad so make it possible for them to do so.
Also keep your website tidy, often I spend so much time in understanding how to navigate someone’s website that in the end I am no longer interested in finding the work!

7 Info needs to be up to date
Make sure that your CV and website are always up to date. Why is this so important? Well, it shows that you are professional, and care about your practice, that you are focused and willing to move on with your work.

8 Attend Private Views, everyone is nicer after a glass of wine!
Try to attend as many private views as possible. Go to check your mates’ shows, they might introduce you to the curator who might like your work too. Private Views are an important chance to get to know many people in the industry. Generally everyone is nice after a glass of wine, so catch the opportunity to let other people know what you are doing!

Don’t misunderstand me- I am not suggesting you pretend to be nice with everyone one, I am encouraging you to go out there and show what you have. Nobody will knock on your door!

9 Don’t confuse Initiative with rudeness.
If you want to go to a gallery and meet the director/curator/manager and so on, you can certainly do that but you need to have an agreed meeting. A gallery can be a really busy work environment, lots of meetings and issues to deal with on a regular basis, so if you want to see the exhibition then just show up there, but if you wish to have a meeting then you need to arrange this. Initiative is brilliant but be careful not to confuse this with rudeness.

10 Always be true to yourself. Nobody like fakes!

Please get in touch if you wish to add anything else and of course if you not agree with me!



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