Gallerist

I job shadowed Susan Hobbs who runs an art gallery in downtown Toronto. Susan started the gallery in 1993 after a year and a half of preparation. It was certainly worth the preparation since its success has sparked numerous art galleries to open on the same street. Susan runs six shows per year and although that seems like a small number, each show requires a lot of preparation. Before each show starts, Susan and her assistant have to write to clients, write text for the website, write a lengthy pamphlet about the show, create advertisements for art publications, decide which pieces are right for the show, price the pieces with the artists, send out e-vites, and physically install all of the art. When Susan isn’t preparing a show she also has to manage the 16 artists she represents. The way I understood it is her relationship with her artists is comparable to a sports agent with their athletes.

I got to tour the gallery and the art was very interesting. Two pieces really caught my eye though. One piece was a sketch done by Michael Snow, who is a very well known Canadian artist. I knew who he was before and to see his actual art was incredible. The other piece was a metal sculpture that was $20,000. It was a cool piece, but I still can’t believe how expensive it was.

That being said, art is definitely a luxury item and Susan says that the economy definitely affects the business. In fact, over the past few years several galleries closed. The art industry isn’t an easy industry to make money in, although you can do very well. A big frustration for the industry is that studies show that most people look at a piece of art for under 10 seconds. Susan says this can be frustrating and that in order to appreciate the art you have to work at it, open your mind, and understand that loving art is a process.

A Typical Day

Every day varies for a gallerist. On a Saturday, 40 people could come through the gallery and some days they may have none. However, they still have to prepare shows, install the art, and manage the gallery.

Top 3 Perks

1) Lots of international travel

2) Meet interesting people and work with great artists

3) Looking at new engaging art everyday

Job Culture

Periods of busy work followed by slow work, indoors, planning shows, hanging art, making transactions, interviewing artists, meeting new people and customers daily

Requirements

- There are no educational requirements although an art background and degree is recommended 

- Susan has a bachelor of fine arts and studied art history in Germany 

- People become gallerists from a variety of paths - Susan knows teachers, real estate agents, and hair stylists that all run galleries

Skills Needed

People skills, communication, artistic, self - motivating, near vision, lots of patience


The Field

- Attendance to most art galleries has gone down since many exhibitions can be seen online, however, going to a gallery is a completely different experience