The Art of the Studio Visit
I know studio visits are very important – being an artist and a curator this is a huge part of my schedule and my life. Getting a studio visit can be tough, particularly from a gallery you like or an art dealer you want to work with. It is possible to get your art heroes and gallerists in your studio, but I caution a few tips before and during the process.
- Ask to visit your art hero’s studio before you request they visit you.
- Go to the galleries you’d like to show with and don’t invite them over to your space until you develop a strong relationship.
- Don’t direct message someone on Instagram and then not follow up – emails can help solidify plans and are less likely to slip through the cracks.
- Be Patient – people often only come once to visit so it’s great to have a lot of strong work up.
- If you’d like tough feedback – you have to ask for it! Be honest and open!
I have compiled a list dos and don’ts for when you finally get the visit you’ve been wanting! Of course, I do realize each visit can carry different goals and agendas but here are some basic considerations:
To do in a studio visit:
- Ask the advice and opinion of your studio visitor.
- Make sure your walls are filled with the work you really want to talk about! Be specific!
- Do not hang up everything!
- Offer coffee, tea and maybe a light snack.
- Make sure to ask the thoughts of your visitor often when you aren’t sure what they mean.
- Don’t be afraid to show work that is not finished or complete yet!
- Do your research on your guest and their professional practices.
- Take notes after or during.
- Follow up with a thank you email or note in appreciation of someone taking the time to visit!
Not to do on a studio visit:
- Do not self deprecate – no one wants to be in your space hearing how you’re not good at what you do.
- Don’t brag – no one wants to be in your space hearing you list all your shows.
- Don’t have a full meal ready – too much work for you and too much time being asked of the guest
- Don’t talk more than your guest.
- Don’t email someone right after asking for a recommendation or a show – let him or her offer these things and just continue building a strong relationship!
- Don’t post work on social media without asking.
- Don’t start taking photos right away – this makes the visit feel disingenuous.
- Don’t direct message the person after they visit asking if they can post your work – this is tacky and superficial.
If someone does not get your work don’t attach yourself too strongly to his or her review. Additionally, if someone loves your work, don’t attach yourself too strongly to his or her review as well.
It is important your work come from you and not from positive and negative praise, which are often times very subjective and even market-driven. Studio visits can lead to sales and shows – sure, but often times they are an intimate conversation about your work and your life. Be honest and open while also listening and engaging your guest. I have been on enough studio visits where I did not think this was happening and it really can leave me feeling deflated.
Studio visits can be tough, but mostly, they are the reward of a life dedicated to hours working alone. A chance to share ideas, thoughts, and learn from others – this should be treasured and taken as seriously as possible.