Art World Job Hunting in the Recession

12Jun09

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by Emily Waldorf

There is much urban lore about the ambitious and creative women who choose to work in the art world.  Charlotte York of Sex and the City fame first incarnated the archetype and it was further developed by Danielle Ganek’s loveable gallerina protagonist in her novel Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him.  What happens to these characters in a recession?  Many eager art history graduates are wondering the same thing and they are more anxious than usual this year about how to land a job in the art world with the news that Sotheby’s and Christie’s are laying off more and more employees and exhibitions and gallery shows are being put on hold due to the economy.  Obviously, this is not a great time for anyone in any industry to be searching for a job, let alone one in the notoriously insular and cut throat art world.

But don’t despair, design historian and blogger extraordinaire, Emily Evans Eerdmans, shared her insightful tips in her post, The EEE Guide to Getting Your First Job in the Art World. She gives straightforward and sage advice that anyone can follow such as making sure not to pigeon hole yourself in one speciality when you really want to specialize in another.  Do you want to be in the fast paced art market or tucked into a museum curating exhibitions?  Do you love to write about art or do you long to palpably work with it as a conservator?  If you want to become an expert in contemporary art, don’t accept a job at an Old Masters gallery. She also stresses the particularly strong value of interning in the art world, and the often overlooked importance of looking the part (you can’t go wrong in an all black ensemble).  Stay informed about art world news, make an effort to see important exhibitions in your area, and don’t be shy about telling everyone and anyone you know about your job search, in the art world most positions are filled through word of mouth.

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