Walking through an art studio or photo gallery is often fun and relaxing, featuring dynamic modern art or stark black and white photographs. If you’ve ever wondered who is responsible for the peaceful ambiance found in galleries, look no further than the gallery director. A gallery director has the ultimate “cool” job. It's up to the director to make her gallery the hot spot of the cultural set. If you know the difference between a Monet and a Renoir, and you think Andy Warhol had more talent than just painting soup cans, becoming a gallery director may be just the ticket.
Paperwork isn’t glamorous and getting a paper cut is never fashionable, but administrative work is a necessary part of a gallery director’s job. Art galleries are like small art stores, and as in any store, there are salespeople and a store manager. The gallery director functions similarly to a store manager. You would hire gallery staff and schedule work hours, and deal with behind-the-scenes administrative tasks like payroll and bookkeeping. In smaller galleries, the director may wear many hats.
A gallery isn’t complete without items to showcase. The gallery director spends a large amount of time obtaining pieces of art for her gallery. If it's a small gallery, you could reach out to art collectors in the local community, museums or other galleries that may loan art for a showing. Much of the art in a gallery is for sale, so the director also locates artists with works that are distinctive enough for a showing. You would also oversee placement of the art so it can be shown in the best way to help it sell. Selling artwork involves a lot of paperwork, so the director oversees the sales and handles delivery schedules. Many galleries have exclusive artist showings held as special event parties. You would assist planning these social galas.
Galleries can typically be found off the beaten path. Sometimes they're in downtown areas or tucked away on side streets. Getting people into the gallery is the job of the gallery director. In larger galleries there may be a public relations or marketing person, but most galleries are small so the director performs this role. You work with local social magazines to make sure gallery events are advertised. You also ensure social page reporters and photographers attend these events. Everyone likes having their photo taken at the newest gallery showing, which generates more foot traffic. Gallery directors also promote upcoming artists with special showings.
Potential gallery directors should first and foremost have an interest in art. Majoring in art history or fine arts in college is recommended. If your goal is to become a gallery director, your best bet is to start out working in a gallery or museum as an intern or volunteer. Getting experience working in a gallery is key. Your days will be spent interacting with the public, so social and communication skills are necessary. Since you will also be managing staff and running the gallery, business and leadership skills come in handy as well.
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