Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Ask

OK, so I've explored how to turn some of those excuses around to start really promoting yourself. But what can you from there?

Lately, I have been much more forward when it comes to seeking opportunities to show my work, at least in regards to asking people about opportunities as I become aware of them. I don't know exactly how or why this happened, perhaps it was partly because I wanted to get as any of my paintings out there where they can be seen and maybe even sell for the holidays as possible, but it has proven to be interesting and informative. And I know even still I could do more, but I am getting a lot better about it.

Cold-calling galleries rarely results in what you'd hope for, but making informed decisions about what to pursue and fostering existing relationships can make a big difference. Do your research first and find out who you should talk to about showing your art in a particular setting. Get actively involved in the organizations, galleries and institutions you belong to to build a rapport with them and to get a better sense of what they have to offer, and then take advantage of what opportunities they do have.

It is really good to be consistent, professional and communicative. Follow directions and don't hound anyone about anything (especially if they gave you a timeline of when you can expect to hear back upon submission), but keep the lines of communication open in case questions come up. Get involved in other ways and get to know the people you're working with or would like to be working with if possible (in the sense of helping out, not of being pushy). And be grateful for any responses you get when seeking opportunities, even if you don't get in. This can be frustrating when communication is sparse, but make sure that you follow through on your end and that you are responsive and responsible.

Try not to engage in gossip and remain as professional as possible. How you treat others will make an impression, good or bad, so try to focus on presenting yourself as positively and responsibly as possible. Networking and social contacts are especially important and are far-reaching, so it is especially important not to burn any bridges lest they come back to haunt you later on. (Don't forget, gossip travels fast whether or not you are involved in it.)

Be gracious and keep in touch with those who have helped you in the past. You don't have to be in constant contact for someone to know that you're thinking of them and that you still appreciate them. If you're feeling like little more than a number in a turnstyle, remember that you are responsible for allowing yourself to become so easily forgotten (or not) depending on your actions. Many professors are approached by students seeking recommendations long after graduation, and they can be hard-pressed to recommend students that haven't kept up with them as they don't know what those students are doing. Keep in touch with gallery owners and those who have offered you shows; let them know what you're doing and don't let them feel taken advantage of. This can be hard sometimes when something is over because it is so necessary to focus on what is upcoming, but those with whom you've shown will likely want to follow your career and see where it is taking you afterwards and may be among your biggest fans and support system, so don't shut them out.

No comments: