Art Business The Web

  • << Back to Articles for Artists
  • How to Sabotage Your Art Shows,

    Sales and Gallery Openings

    Feeling too famous? Selling too much art? Getting too popular? Based on actual experiences I've had with artists at their openings and shows over the years, those are about the only logical conclusions I can come to. Seems like some artists are just plain determined to undermine their careers. Now if you're wondering whether that might describe you, then check out these proven methods that any artist can use to sabotage their art openings, open studios or any other occasions where their art is on display and they're in attendance:

    * Act important, distracted or preoccupied. The key here is to look as unapproachable as possible.

    * Speak only with people you already know.

    * Disappear for significant periods of time and make sure you tell no one where you're going. Or tell someone where you're going and then go somewhere else. Or tell people what time you're arriving and then either show up late or don't show up at all.

    * When people ask you questions about your art, tell them you don't know or haven't really thought about it. Or answer them, but look really put out by it.

    * When people ask about the significance or meaning of your art tell them it means whatever they want it to mean.

    * When someone asks the price of a piece of your art, tell them you don't know or you're not sure. Or tell them you haven't figured it out yet. Or better yet, ask them what they think it's worth.

    * Talk to one person for a really long time (preferably someone you already know and can speak with anywhere) and ignore anyone else who appears to want to speak with you. (I actually had an artist tell me once that he'd get to me as soon as he was done talking to his next door neighbor. You guessed it; I didn't hang around very long after that.)

    * Act like you can't wait to end a conversation with someone, and then as soon as it's over, start a conversation with someone else and act much more interested in them.

    * Interrupt or abruptly end a conversation with someone so that you can start a conversation with someone else who's walked up to you and who you want to talk to more.

    * End a conversation for no apparent reason, walk away, and start a whole new conversation with someone else.

    * Walk up to anyone who has a profile in the art community like critics, collectors or bloggers, introduce yourself and immediately start talking about yourself and your art... whether they're interested or not. Or tell them you'd like to explain your art, don't wait for an answer, and start explaining. The longer you talk and the fewer opportunities you give them to respond, the better.

    * Drop lots of names whether you have any personal involvement or connection to them or not.

    * Talk about all of your art world accomplishments with no prompting whatsoever.

    * Suggest to people who look interested in your art that if they buy directly from you and not through the gallery, that they can get it cheaper.

    * If you see someone you don't like or who you don't like talking too, but they have some standing in the community-- collector, critic, blogger, etc.-- rather than bite the bullet and exchange pleasantries for maybe 30 seconds or a minute, evacuate the premises the instant you see them coming... and make sure they see you doing it.

    * Deliberately avoid eye contact with, or better yet, look straight through people who you can tell would like to speak with you, but who you don't know and, based on that, have decided to ignore.

    * Ignore someone based on how they look, what they're wearing, or their age.

    * If you notice that someone is interested in speaking with you while you're speaking with someone else, continue the conversation for as long as possible and refuse to even acknowledge their presence.

    * Surround yourself with several friends at all times so that no one has easy access to you.

    * On the opposite end of the continuum, hover around your art and as soon as someone looks at it, tell them you're the artist and either ask them if they have any questions or better yet, just start talking... and keep talking.

    * Launch into long and detailed explanations of your art whether the person you're speaking with asks for them or not.

    * Make sure you explain your art in terms that hardly anyone can understand. Confuse people by using as many MFA art words as possible.

    * If someone can't figure out or understand what you're saying, make sure you act condescending or inconvenienced by it.

    * Disagree with people's impressions or responses to your art and correct them as often as possible.

    * Act amazed and astonished if someone you're speaking with hasn't heard of you or is unfamiliar with your art.

    * Drink too much, smoke too much or do whatever else you have to do to make sure you're completely out of it.


    * Now that you know WHAT NOT TO DO at your art events, you can read all about WHAT TO DO here: Art Opening Protocol 101

    divider line