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A Day in the Life of a Gallery Director

A Day in the Life of a Gallery Director

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

And of course, on a daily basis I would be in contact with collectors, either those walking in, those with appointments, or on the phone; coordinating deliveries and installations (a service we offered to all of our local clients), making presentations and handling T.O.s (turn-overs, art consultants would usually begin a presentation and then introduce me at a later stage of their sales process and I would either close the sale or offer details that enhanced the probabilities of the consultant closing the sale. It is a business after all and sales are the most important charge of the gallery director.)

As often as possible, after a consultant had finished with a collector, we would vet the experience; dissecting what worked and what didn’t. Why they bought what they did or why they didn’t buy anything. What the consultant could have done better. One day a week before the gallery would open, I would hold an hour-long all-consultant meeting where we would discuss upcoming events, work on sales presentations, and consider new and better ways of doing business. It is important that your staff, particularly the art consultants, feel that they have a sense of gallery ownership; that their voice and opinion matter to the success of the gallery.

And there is the merchandising of the gallery. Even without a specific show, I like to keep the art moving. At home I prefer the salon installation (a la ”Samuel F. B. Morse’s “Galleries of the Louvre“) and sometimes I would employ that technique in the gallery, depending on the artist and the work, but more often than not, we kept the art hung gallery-style (in a line, one after the other, with the occasional double-hang.) At an exhibition with an artist reception, the entire gallery would be devoted to their work for at least two weeks. After that we would start to reduce its size over the next couple of weeks, slowing adding our other artists back into the mix. If there wasn’t a special exhibit or focus, I would re-hang the gallery every two weeks (as well as changing the art in the windows), particularly because the majority of our clientele were local. When I directed the Circle Gallery in the Westin Maui, we re-hung the gallery less frequently as our clients were tourists almost exclusively and were in the hotel for three days on average, but change was still important in keeping the staff fresh and excited about the art we presented and sold.

The interesting thing about being a gallery director is that the job does not end at 5:30. After the gallery would close, there may be community outreach programs to attend, gallery openings, artist open-studios, all of which are about connecting and networking with your community. Although I believe in the power of social media to help network, there is no substitute for face-to-face communication; that is real community building and it pays major dividends when you are in the business of placing art into the homes and offices of those who love it.

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