Miss Manners: Gallery Etiquette Guide for Artists

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 10.24.54 AMI love being a gallerist.  I love art and I love artists.  I’ve devoted the last 30 years to helping artists develop the skills they need to manage their careers.  Yet, still, after all these years, I just can’t believe some of the things artists do.  If you haven’t already done so,  please take a moment to read one of my archived articles, “5 Surefire Ways to Annoy a Gallery”.  I’ve updated the list here, with a few of the most egregious crimes I’ve experienced lately.  See if you recognize yourself here…

It’s great to go to openings for several reasons. a) It familiarizes you with the gallery and the particular art they show b) it gives you an opportunity to network and meet other artists c) it gets you out of the house and you will usually get free wine.  However, there are certain things artists should NEVER do at openings:

1. Please do not bring postcards of your own work and leave them on the counter.

2.  Please do not engage my clients in conversations about your work unless they are genuinely inquisitive about it.

3.  Please do not talk to me for more than 1-2 minutes, or expect me to look at your work during an opening.  Galleries are in business to sell artwork.  Opening receptions should be focused on the artist who is exhibiting at the moment.  It is during their opening that I want to meet their friends and collectors and talk to my clients about the work.  Don’t monopolize my time.  If you would like for me to see your work, send it to me via email and/or call to schedule an appointment.

4.  Art Fairs are also a wonderful place for you to look at work, familiarize yourself with various galleries, but please Refer to #3.  Most galleries spend several thousand dollars to participate in Art Fairs…this is NOT the time to approach them about your work and enter into long philosophical discussions.

5.  If you’ve had more than 3 glasses of wine, you should leave.

Generally, being respectful of the gallery directors time is all I’m saying here.  I know how hard it is to get your work “out there.”  I admire you for wanting to exercise every option to familiarize me with your work…but, please take a moment to think that what you think of as an opportune moment, may do you more harm than good.


One Response to “Miss Manners: Gallery Etiquette Guide for Artists”

  1. Sheila Fein said:

    Jan 11, 13 at 10:01 am

    Hi, The advice you give is great. I met you at the TOAA talk you gave recently. I run People Sketchers, which is an uninstructed life drawing continuing workshop.
    Best Wishes, Sheila Fein