Meeting curators

So how do you get to meet a curator? The bottom line is they look like everyone else and they rarely wear badges. It is as important for an artist to research and seek out an appropriate curator as it is for a curator to find their artists. The two options for artists and curators finding each other are: by chance or by choice.

By chance:

  • Introduced at an event of some sort through a mutual friend, shared discussion.

By choice:

  • Make your work visible through open studios, exhibitions, websites, discussions, critiques, forums, residencies, social and other networking opportunities.
  • Do your research – identify who is curating or showing work that resonates with your own. Keep your own dossier. Do not bombard every curator that you hear about with a blanket email that most likely will be ignored. (By way of example Day + Gluckman receive 20 or so emails a week, often headed ‘Dear Sir ‘ – as both of us are women it doesn’t bode well for a future relationship with that artist).
  • Establishing contact – details are often on a press release and you can usually track contact details down through a range of ways – not least Facebook, LinkedIn, Axis and even Google.
  • Make use of your friends (in the nicest possible way), but don’t abuse that relationship. Artists are often referred to curators by other artists or introduced at events. An opening is not always the most pertinent time to talk a to a curator – it is often a work situation or even a social one.
  • I have heard examples where some curators, as they become more visible, will no longer go to openings as they are bombarded with proposals when they had hoped to be looking at the show itself. So keep things concise, interesting, chatty.  Make sure you have a card to give them and ask if you might have theirs.
  • Try and have the last word! Even if that is  “it was good to meet you, I know that you are busy, here is my card, let’s talk again….”

It’s worth saying that you should be talking to several curators at a time, just as you would establish relationships with a handful of targeted galleries. Maintaining those relationships is simple – keep in touch via regular updates, send through images of works in progress as well as invitations to shows that you have coming up. It is more than a work relationship – a curator can be a source of information as well as personal support and most relationships are based on mutual respect and friendship. A good curator will also tell you when its time to move up the ladder and can introduce your to new contacts, as well as helping you develop your practice, profile and professional skills.

Supporting their career is also mutually beneficial – don’t just attend your own opening – try and get along to the openings before and after you might show with them. It shows that you are committed to their career just as they are to yours.

© Lucy Day


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