If you work in the visual arts, how do you
regard going to private views? A good
chance for a chat with mates? A free
drink? A cheap night out?
Have you ever thought how they can help you
to develop your creative practice and promote yourself for the price of some
business cards and a travel ticket? (And if the thought of networking strikes you with dread, just think of it as going out
somewhere fun, but with a purpose!) Going to private views can help you to:
Raise your profile – become a familiar face
on the circuit and tell people about your work.
Make contacts – with galleries, potential
collaborators, advocates of your work, potential purchasers / commissioners.
Keep up with trends and information – find
out the latest on exhibition opportunities, networking events, awards and
Find out about private views, for
Talk to your fellow artists, tutors,
Visit websites such as www.newexhibitions.com, www.southlondonartmap.com, www.firstthursdays.co.uk for lists
of galleries and join email newsletter lists.
(A cunning trick is to get an email address which you use
specifically for mailing lists so that they don’t overwhelm your usual email
- Search Facebook forgroups / fan pages
connected with art and join / like the pages. (To start with, I would recommend joining
as many mailing lists and groups as possible. As time goes on,
you can then work out those which aren’t appropriate and scale things back.)
Join the Arts Council News mailing list.
Sit back and wait for the invitations to
Decide which to go to
Obviously, there will be work in which you
have an automatic interest or a gallery / artist with which you have an
For the rest, ask yourself:
- Is it a gallery where you
want to exhibit?
- Who will be there – will it attract the
type of person who might be interested in your work?
Is it a high profile private view at which
it will be good to be seen (or Tweet about)?
- Who is involved in staging it – are there
sponsors you could make contact with?
Will there be critics / art movers &
shakers you can meet?
These aren’t the only things to think
about, but just to get you into the habit of thinking through the
What to do when you are there
- Be ready to initiate conversations –
everyone at the event is there for the artwork and a simple comment about one
of the pieces can break the ice.
- Ask gentle questions of the other person
(don’t make them feel they are being interrogated!) People like talking about themselves.
- Talk about your own work.
- Always have your business cards and invite
them to visit your website to see your work.
Most people will happily exchange business cards
- Have a good conversation with
someone, but don’t stay all evening with them; circulate.
If you are nervous about going on your
own, certainly go with a friend but don’t fall into the trap of only talking to
them all evening. Make sure your focus
is outwards to new people.
What to do afterwards
Did you get a lot of business cards? Great.
But unless you do something with them, you might as well have stayed at
- Follow up the people you met with a polite
“very nice / fascinating to meet you last night at...“
- If you can, add a personal note (“was
interested in hearing your views on...”) as people like to be remembered.
- Make sure you have a link to your website
and invite them to visit it.
- If you have
a newsletter / blog, invite then to join up.
- On the back of their business card, make a
note of where you met the person.
Hopefully, you will be making so many contacts you will need a memory
jogger when they get in touch with you about a possible project!
(If you are not in visual arts, just think what your professional equivalents of private views are and adopt the same ideas.)
Go out, have fun, promote yourself and if you see me at a private view, do come over and say hi!