Michelle Williams once said “an interview is like a minefield.” She was referring to interviews with journalists, and of course that’s a whole different ball game, but it’s true that if you have an interview lined up – with a gallery owner, a potential sponsor or an agent, you have to come prepared… and tread very carefully.
Why do you need an interview, in the first place? Because your art does not sell itself; it is you who has to sell it. Even if someone really likes your work, you have to convince them that your art is worth selling or representing, and that you can also contribute to make that happen.
So do your homework. If you have a gallery or an agent in mind, talk to other artists represented there. Ask for their advice in preparing for the interview. Maybe they can even divulge some of the questions that the gallery owner or sponsor likes to ask his interviewees. Now let’s get down to business, because you still have a lot of homework to do.
Some interview essentials:
- Create, organize or update your portfolio. Include a resume.
- Write an artist statement – a short summary of who you are as an artist, a kind of personal ad that doesn’t sound like one, but leaves others wanting to hear more.
- It may sound obvious, but make sure you have adequate transportation to the gallery or the agency. Plan your route beforehand, give yourself ample time and try to get there 15 minutes before the interview.
- Dress nicely, take deep breaths before you go in, and be gracious and polite.
- Let the gallery owner or potential rep lead the interview. Answer questions as articulately as possible. Be prepared to answer questions about the theme behind some of your specific works.
- If the interviewers asks you, “Do you have any questions?”, make sure you have some ready. Do some research about the gallery or agency, prepare some things you want to ask.
- Don’t forget to thank the interviewer at the end, and leave an artist business card. Ask them when you can expect to be notified of acceptance.
- If you don’t get a call back in a week, phone them and ask about the status of your application.
Here are some commonly asked questions:
- Do you have your own unique and identifiable style?
- What media do you prefer?
- Who or what influenced you most to become an artist?
- Where have you displayed your art in the past?
- Do you sometimes wish you were not an artist?
- Why do you want to show your art at our gallery/Why do you want us to represent you?
- Do you have another job, outside art? How do you balance your work and your art?
- Why do you think your art will sell?
Remember: if you want to sell your art, bear in mind that success is essentially a collaborative venture.