Should You Be Getting Out More?
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Should You Be Getting Out More?



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 prizes, funding.

Find out about private views, for instance:

  • Talk to your fellow artists, tutors, friends.
  • 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 inbox.)
  • 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 come in!  

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 existing connection.  

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 possibilities. 

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 with you.
  • 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 home.  

  • 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!


If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.

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