Episode 152 – Making It in the Art World by Brainard Carey / The Last Question

The Last Question

Then came the very last proposal and question. I told the curator that we wanted to do a large-scale exhibition with sculptures as well as sets that enable the viewer to enter into the space and have a new experience. While I was saying all this, I was enthusiastic and excited about what I was saying, and I also kept my thoughts and ideas brief, under three minutes each, usually less. After describing the last idea, which I was most excited about because of the scale and size of it, she knew what I would ask next and said, “Oh, Shamim might like that project and the museum has a large, six-thousand-square-foot space that could accommodate that.” Of course I was thrilled at this suggestion, and I said, “Yes, that sounds perfect,” to which she replied, “I could just tell her [Shamim, the curator], or do you want to send me something?” This was an interesting point in the conversation and very telling about how I presented all this. She was saying she had enough information to pass on this idea to another curator without having any more information from me. That meant that my pitch to her was succinct enough that she could remember it. That is one of the keys to getting quick results. Be clear, be compelling, and also make it short enough to remember. My answer to her was that I would send her an email when I got home about the show that she could pass on to the curator.

Following Up

Before I explain what I sent to her when I got home, let’s look at the big picture. If I had started right off with something direct, like, “I want to meet X, can you help me to meet her?” or if I had started right off with the big project, I may not have gotten the results I was after. But by starting small and being brief, I not only worked my way up, but the situation also became more relaxed as we became more comfortable with each other. When I got home, I wanted to send her something that she would then pass on to the curator I was interested in. Rather than send her links to images or a website or anything else, I sent her a simple text. I made two separate texts. The first I called “Brief Summary of the Praxis Project,” and in one paragraph, I described what it was. I wrote that paragraph as if it were a listing in the newspaper. By that, I mean I wrote it in third person and I described it in a way that made it sound like something interesting to go see.

That is the challenge that journalists have when summing up shows for the listing section. How do you make a listing seem compelling enough to make someone want to go there? In this case, I was fairly straightforward and just described it as though it were already happening. I titled this short text “Brief Summary of Exhibition.”

It read like this: “The artistic collaborative of Brainard Carey and Delia Bajo creates a sculptural installation so large you can walk into what feels like a Felliniesque set, complete with sculptural elements and a movie. The result is like a surrealistic amusement park for adults.” That was the brief description. Then below that I added another description that I titled “Extended Summary of Exhibition.” In that summary, I added more details to make it exciting, but never got too specific, partially because it hadn’t been done yet, and I wasn’t sure what we would do exactly.

To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here.  To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.


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