The art world is a mystery to most people, even those of us who work in it are often confused about what it is we actually do, and how it actually works. When we talk to our friends about what we do, most of us are met with faces of bewilderment, or perhaps even – in my case at least – people can sometimes speak down on us, as if we’re stupid, or work in a sector that is deemed “unimportant.”
As we all know, the art world is far from “unimportant.” But what do your pals think of what you do? We asked our art squad for the reactions they are met with.
Our responses range from “I have no friends :/” to “that it’s mad.” Does the art world take your friends away from you? Travelling to and from fair to fair, biennial to biennial and studio to studio can leave little time for socialising. That said, I think we can all agree that the art world is ridiculously insane.
But, while the art world is fun, what with private views, parties and international travel, there is a lot of admin involved. “They think it’s the coolest and the most extravagant job”, says a pal, “When in reality it’s just a lot of paperwork.” We hear you sister! Another friend concurred. “[They think we’re a] bunch of weirdos, they don’t understand”, she explained, adding, “Others think it’s very interesting, [but they] don’t get the reality behind the scenes.” She then preceded to send me a selfie with her face in her hands. A picture says a thousand words my friends…
That said, the understanding of what it really means to work in the art world can be varied, as one very popular pal explained: “I have different categories of friends. The art world friends, the 40-something-year-old artist/professional friends, the my-age, art-is-corrupt, money laundering yada yada yada friends and the “wait, how much for a painting” friends.” And the moral of this story it seems is: “pick your friends wisely, especially if you work in the art world.” While another went into more detail. “They know that working in the contemporary arts sphere is precarious and I think they admire my courage of not having a regular salary. They think that I’m a very strong person, and they think that I have it all figured out”, she explains, “On the contrary, older people like my relatives have no idea what I’m doing, and cannot put it all together. Overall, I think all of my friends respect me for what I do, but none of them is ready to do the same.”
And to summarise? This friend said it all: “I think it took them about 4 or 5 years to really understand and realise what it is that I actually do and how hectic it could be, they think it’s fun to be a freelancer and work in art because they all have 9-to-5 jobs, so to them it’s a colourful world in comparison. I think some of them still don’t have a full grasp on what my job is.”
Words Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @the_art_gorgeous