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Embarking on a Career in Art – Sorcha Richardson Guest Blog

April 19, 2020

Job-hunting in the current climate is undoubtedly a challenge, however finding a route into the visual arts hasn’t always been easy. Below are my top tips for anyone looking to find that first role in the industry…

Do your research

Before spending valuable hours applying for different positions, take time to thoroughly research the industry and identify those areas that best suit your current experience, and are of greatest interest to you. From working in national institutions to roles in commercial art galleries, auction houses, and everything in between, there are a vast array of positions out there, all of which require different skillsets and expertise. Take time to educate yourself on the various positions in these organisations and what the day to day of the job entails, then consider how your experience to date aligns with this

In an art gallery or museum for example, you might want to work in exhibition preparation, curating, research, communications, or on the technical side of things. Ensure you review the job specifications for any available positions, check out similar roles on LinkedIn and review industry profiles via sources like Frieze Magazine, Artforum and the Art Newspaper.

With entry level roles and less experience, think about how you can make the experience you do have relevant to the role in question and ensure that shines through.

Remember to always consider your strengths, and where you will bring value to an organisation, whilst also having the opportunity to learn.

Tackle your CV and LinkedIn

Next up, and now armed with a better idea as to the specific roles you are interested in applying for, it’s time to tackle your CV. Whilst presentation is key, don’t let graphics or design drown out your core strengths and offerings. Focus on succinctly detailing your experience to date, relevant academic qualifications, and interests that are relevant to the role in question – remember, we all love baking and yoga so unless you’ve won the Great British Bake Off or worked as a yoga instructor, leave these attributes for pre or post interview chat!

With a particular role in mind, ensure you demonstrate the skills that align with the requirements of the role. For example, with a role in curating or exhibition preparation, you will want to detail any experience you have of putting an exhibition together, both conceptually and practically. For more technical roles, you will need to demonstrate your ability to handle artworks, utilise CAD software, or operate certain tools and equipment.

Arts organisations are utilising the power of digital platforms, now more than ever, so create a LinkedIn profile that reflects your CV and use it as a tool for following those companies you are interested in working for, or industry recruiters and insiders who will post about job opportunities.

Finding the right role

Connecting with the right recruiters and finding the best online jobs boards is vital to tracking what roles are out there, and seeing when positions become available. There are multiple websites worth mentioning, but some strong starting points are listed below for those looking for roles in the UK, US and globally (where recruiters are concerned):

Guardian Jobs – Arts and Heritage

Arts Jobs UK

National Museums Jobs

New York Foundation for the Arts

Sophie Macpherson RecruitmentDRAW Recruitment

There are also a number of arts networks to consider joining, like Marguerite London, a club for women who work in the visual arts (Marguerite is a private members’ club, however tickets can be purchased for some of their events on a one-off basis). Another network, with a similar focus on women is The Association of Women in the Arts

Beyond this, ensure you get out to gallery exhibition openings (private views are nearly always open to the public), museum shows, talks and interesting arts events in order to keep your finger on the pulse, and meet and connect with artists and others working in the industry.

Mentoring

Seeking mentoring, as a student, graduate or at any point in your career, can be incredibly beneficial and rewarding.  Many universities or academic institutions run alumni programmes, where you are afforded the opportunity to connect with other alumni working in your chosen industry, an invaluable resource to tap into. Or if you’re already in an organisation, don’t be afraid to seek out experienced colleagues and ask if they would mind grabbing a coffee and having a chat. You’ll often find that most people are more than happy to offer advice and guidance to younger or less experienced colleagues.

If the options above aren’t available to you, research those working in your chosen field on LinkedIn to see if they have noted that they are available for ‘mentoring’ or ‘getting coffee’ and if so, reach out and ask if they would be open to having a discussion.

Keep an open mind

Try to keep an open mind when applying for roles, particularly as a graduate, as your first role will not define you, however it will all add value to your overall professional experience in the long run. Embrace each role as a new opportunity to learn and develop, and don’t be afraid to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, as a strong work ethic is valued greatly within the industry. Remember, we all have to start somewhere.

For any follow up questions you can get in touch with Sorcha directly via LinkedIn: LinkedIn

Last, but by no means least, working within the arts can be an incredibly rewarding experience, so don’t be deterred if it is something you wish to pursue as there is nothing quite like working with art every day!

Guest blog by Sorcha Richardson

Sorcha Richardson is an Associate Director at White Cube, a leading contemporary art gallery, with locations in London and Hong Kong.

Having worked across various departments since joining White Cube in 2011, Sorcha now sits within the gallery’s Curatorial department, where her role is focused on working with artists, and the strategic management of the team.


Passionate about working with artists to realise ambitious projects, and ensuring art is accessible to all, she is an advocate for mentoring in the art world. Sorcha holds a BA in History of Art and Architecture from Trinity College, Dublin and an MLitt in Art and Business from the University of Aberdeen.

For any follow up questions you can get in touch with Sorcha directly via LinkedIn: LinkedIn

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If you are a WIN member and would like to write a guest blog, please get in touch at enquiries@womensirishnetwork.com. If you are not yet a member you can join here.

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