‘Tis the season, again, as yet another clutch of expectant, optimistic and hopefully talented young graduates thrust themselves into the wide world of employment. The graduation shows are now starting to happen thick and fast, and the wise London Creative need not pay for a drink between here and mid-July if they can only get themselves invited to the right events! Bearing in mind how important these events can be, I’ve put together a few suggestions for those who are about to go through the process:
Don’t stand in a huddle with all your mates – now’s your chance to meet new and possibly very useful people! I appreciate you may be nervous, but I’d suggest drinking just enough to make you feel confident (your mileage may vary on this one, but don’t take it too far – see below) and then start circulating as best you can. Hell, it may even be worth positioning yourself near the door and greeting unfamiliar faces as they come in. Just don’t offer to take their coats, or ask for tips!
If you see anyone unfamiliar standing around looking at your work, sidle up and engage them in polite conversation – ideally related to your work, but talking about Britain’s Got Talent would work in a pinch. You don’t know whether the person in question is simply your fellow students Mum, or the head of Art at M+C Saatchi. Although you might be able to guess in that instance, as they’ll probably be dressed differently.
Don’t get too pissed, at least not until the end of the night. The sight of a shit-faced student is nothing new, we’ve all been there, and we’ve all seen it before – wait till the punters have gone home.
Make sure the people responsible have got enough free booze in. You’ll be surprised just how much can be put away.
At times other than the main “Private View” or opening night, make sure someone’s always in attendance at the gallery, and that there’s a healthy supply of postcards/business cards etc on hand. A surprising number of people may call in during the day, as we do work some odd hours, us photographers.
Get there early, and help with setting things up. This way you can make sure your stuff doesn’t get hung way down the back, in an unlit alcove. Ideally you’d already be involved with the committee or group who’ve been organising the show anyway, so you’ll have had some input into choice of venue and so on.
Make sure you’ve got a healthy supply of your freshly printed business cards to hand, ready to be pressed into other people’s hands.
Send round polite reminder emails to people you’ve invited a couple of days before the event. We’re a forgetful and busy bunch, and a gentle reminder never goes amiss.
Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. If I can pass on one thing I learnt from my graduation show (which was a little while ago now…) it was that there’s actually only a fairly small chance that someone will walk in and commission you or give you a job on the spot, so don’t be too hurt if you’re still holding onto 99 of your 100 business cards at the end of the night. Your graduation show is actually more about ending a period in your life in a memorable way, and launching you into a new one with a boost.
Apologies if this post seems a little scattered – I’ve been drinking the coffee, and am amazed I can even type as my hands are shaking so much.