When you ask art students what they want to do after they graduate, many tell you they want to work in a gallery. For some, that is the ultimate dream, including me (at least for now). For the past 4 months, I have been working as a communications intern at a gallery here in Rotterdam, and I was never exactly sure what to expect. So, if you are thinking of pursuing a similar dream, here are 5 things that I have learned so far.
1. You may have to take on multiple roles
Aside from updating social media accounts, writing press releases, and communicating with artists, I also have to clean bathrooms, scrub floors, and wash windows. While my official role is communications intern, I also perform practical tasks and take on the role of volunteer at openings and weekends.
2.People are actually nice
It’s not as cutthroat as movies like Velvet Buzzsaw or The Square make it out to be. Curators, writers, and artists are more than willing to talk to you, help you, or reference you to other professionals when you ask them to.
3.Handling works of art
Though I instinctively knew that works of art are both priced and insured at astronomical prices, I was not prepared for the reality of touching and handling them. It involves white gloves, whispering, and silence, to say the least. Simply moving a sculpture a few centimetres to the left required extreme care and precision. I will never again underestimate the job of an installer.
4.Artists are bad at emailing
Part of working in a smaller gallery involves direct communication with artists. While their artistic vision is commendable, they obviously prioritise this over checking their inbox, leading to awkward follow-up emails to follow-up emails.
5. Be prepared for anything
Because galleries often work at a fast pace, I have to stay online during weekends and evenings. This means answering emails, making phone calls, and working on social media. Ideas change, plans are altered, and work hours are shifted.
Overall, I can say that the past few months and weeks have been extremely rewarding for me and I have learned more than I expected to. Each day is completely different, and I never seem to get the slightest bit bored. While it is not always as glamorous as in the movies, it’s definitely an experiencing worth having.