Friday, July 16, 2010

If Your Attitude Stinks, No Work For You

Part of being professional artists is more than just having a certain skill set or a strong portfolio. While many of us creatives would rather we just do what we do, paint when we want to paint, and basically have total freedom over every aspect of our lives, that is, unfortunately, not a reality for most of us. The truth of the matter is that we still have bills to pay, and to do that, someone needs to pay us. Even if we have the skillz to pay said billz, if there are no one to sell said skills to, then you're going to be out of luck.

Thus, we have to sell our art to designers, clients, art collectors, etc., etc. While a select few artists can be rude, crazy, and generally not fun to be around, Monkey + Seal think that their reputation will eventually work against them, no matter how "great" they might be. Basically, Monkey + Seal advise to be a professional.

By being a professional, we don't mean that you have to wear a suit and tie and act like you're some no-fun, all-business boring bum, but that you act with integrity and respect. Respond to business emails. Show up on time. Follow directions. Be a nice person. These things, while seemingly obvious and simple, are actually more rare than you might think.

As curators in their roles as Paper Hat Productions, Monkey + Seal have gotten a first-hand look on the other side of the fence - we often are looking for opportunities from other organizers, gallery curators, and the like, but with Paper Hat we get to see what it's like to get approached by artists looking to be featured in a future show. While we generally give everyone a chance (we at least check out everyone's work if they have it online), we most certainly do not curate people into shows if they have terrible attitudes.

At our first show, someone came up to Seal while she was live painting and insinuated that her work wasn't so great. Then, when he asked who she was, and she told him that she was one of the curators for the show, he suddenly changed his tone and introduced himself and gave her his business card and told her how great the show was and how he would love to get involved. Guess who isn't going to be in our future shows?

Now the reason why you being professional can get you ahead of the game (or more likely, being unprofessional can get you put on the poop-list) is that besides whether or not curators think that your art can sell, curators have to work with the artists. Curators send emails with info on where to drop off work, how sales will work, and if they're good, they'll want to interview you, get photos of your work to post up on their site for promotional material. They are going to send you postcards, digital flyers, promo material to put up on your blog. If they're doing their job, they're going to be doing their best to promote you, and if working with you is a pain in the butt, then they're not going to want to do it.

You have to think about the curator. Are you making it easy for them to want to work with you? If you are late, how much is that going to inconvenience the curator and the other artists? Are you going to show up and act like a diva and embarrass the curators? If you are making the curators' life hard, they are not going to want to work with you again. Most likely, if they're curating a show, they're going to have connections with other curators. Just as if we like to brag about how great other artists are, we're also quite vocal about how we've had bad experiences with person x and y. Word spreads fast, so do yourself a favor and make sure that you've got a clean reputation moving forward.

In saying this, we don't expect bribes or people sucking up to us (that turns us off just as quick as if you are rude or lazy), but we advise that you think about what sort of image you're giving off, and whether or not that image is going to help or hurt your career in the future.


Anonymous said...

I like that this was written about; I’m sure many people have seen first-hand how quickly people can change their perceptions of you just because you may have connections with someone or something they want for their own personal agenda. On the other hand, if you’re nice and professional on a sincere and daily basis, you have more chances of being accepted and having good things come to you!

Monkey + Seal said...

Most definitely, Shannon. We're all about trying to increase the amount of good karma in the world!