I have been going to artist receptions for my work for about a year now, and I have learned a lot about putting yourself out there. Networking becomes easy when you see these events as social events but in a business setting and always have a business mind-set entering them. Sometimes people freeze up at the word, “networking” and while I don’t blame them, a bit of a change in perspective helps in these situations. I’m going to share with you what I learned and to get the most out of your artist reception.
1) Thank and Introduce Yourself to the Juror
If the juror happens to attend your reception as well (sometimes they don’t, shame on them!), go ahead and introduce yourself but also remember to thank the juror for selecting your artwork. You’ll make a lasting impression and may lead to something else down the road. It’s always a win for being polite.
2) If you strike up a conversation with a fellow artist or member of the event board don’t forget to give them your information
You have business cards right? In this day and age, it’s so easy to reconnect with someone you meet at an event. Not having networking, social or business cards handy can mean that you may miss a really important opportunity down the road. I don’t always give out my information but if I end up liking the person and/or their work, then I give them my business card.
3) If your reception has a celebrity attending, introduce yourself.
Sometimes major fine art competitions and conferences have celebrities to help attract more patrons. At the my Capitol Hill reception I met our Congressmen and while at the time I didn’t have time to give Joe Kennedy my business card, as I was first in line to be called up for my award, that would’ve been the perfect opportunity. At the Harvard Leadership Conference, I got Jason Love’s attention because I treated him like an individual and not someone who was in the spot light – unlike the other Harvard students.. he happily took my information.
4) If alcohol is served, have a glass or two!
Some of the best receptions that I attended are those when I had a glass of alcohol. The alcohol helped calm the nerves and helped me socialize better with the people around me. Obviously, if you have issues with drinking, than this one can’t be done. But I’ve had some of the best evenings when some alcohol was consumed, it helped me relax and have a good time!
Obviously, the most important part of making the most out of your artist reception. Back at a reception for the Boxcar Gallery I met another gallery owner which led to another exhibition later in the winter. The same thing happened this past April when I went to the EcoArts festival in Provincetown, MA. If I hadn’t gotten to know the gallery owner where the Art and Meditation workshop had taken place, I wouldn’t have been invited to another exhibition later in June in Provincetown at the Gallery.
There you have it! These are my five top activities to do at an artist reception. Some receptions will not be a fulfilling and it could depend on weather, location, marketing, etc. So if there aren’t many people, don’t feel sad just make sure you take in the art and take away at least one thing if the reception didn’t live up to your expectations (and sometimes they won’t!).