How Not to Schmooze a Gallery Owner

In PDN‘s Fine-Art issue, photographers explain how they met the gallery owners who recently signed them: at portfolio reviews, through referrals from colleagues, and by having their work seen in group shows or competitions. They did not, however, make the mistake of trying to introduce themselves when the gallery owners were preoccupied by trying to sell photos. Gallery owners have said that art fairs and gallery openings are the worst times to hand them business cards or promos.

ArtBusiness.com, the website of an art appraisal and consulting service for artists and collectors, has a new article on the etiquette of attending art openings. It lists “behavioral blunders” artists sometimes make, such as: “Ask the artist to introduce you to the gallery owner,” “Whip out your cell phone and start showing people images of your latest art.” It also lists the blunders the rest of us make. A personal favorite is, “Stand in front of a single piece of art with your friends and talk for half an hour straight without ever moving or even thinking about occasionally checking to see whether you’re blocking anyone’s view.”

We don’t agree that every item on their list is a frequently seen “blunder.” A few are matters of common courtesy rather than some plague on the art world. But it’s a useful reminder that while an opening looks like a party, it’s a professional setting, and impressions count. We can imagine how wider adoption of these tips would give more people at an opening a chance to actually see the art, and maybe get more helpings of the cheese cubes or pretzels, too. The full list can be found here.

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