3 reasons the art world is intimidating and what you can do to overcome it.

We have all been there. Door like a bank, tinted windows and a buzzer system – it doesn’t exactly make you feel right at home. The art world can seem like a strange and intimidating place to navigate for several reasons so, what can you do to make it feel less intimidating? 

Here are three of the key daunting aspects of the art world and what you can do to overcome them.

Reason One – The Buildings

This is a big one in the art world and the first real obstacle when finding yourself wanting to visit a museum or private gallery. Usually these places have either:

– A heavy door like a bank.
– Entry is operated by a buzzer system.
– A guard on the door who lets you in.

Remember it is just a building. When museums and galleries took off in the 18th and 19th century these buildings which houses amazing art collections were meant to show their country as a leading cultural nation. They needed these buildings to make a grand statement and that is what they do.

But here is another way of looking at it. A door which is difficult to open; or has a buzzer system or a guard, are not meant to keep people out, but to keep things in! Works of art are high value objects and these are just security measures to make sure any sticky-fingered visitors who may want to take their chances, (and believe me, there are plenty out there) find it just that little bit more difficult to get out quickly.

Take a deep breath and open that door. Ring that buzzer, say hello to the guard and ask them how their day is! People want you to come to their spaces and see the shows they have worked so hard to put on.

It just so happens they are in grand buildings with a little added security.

Reason Two – The people

Is there anything more intimidating than a three-piece suit, posh accent and a whole universe of art vocabulary you have never heard before in your life?

It is hard not to feel intimidated when presented with someone so polished and educated but you have to remember you are just dealing with another person. A human being just like you. Moreover, they are just doing their job and probably have their manager or director able to overhear any and all conversations they are having. So just keep that in mind.

It is also important to remember that the vocabulary used in the art world is just industry jargon! It is exactly the same for people who work in marketing, sales, HR and computer software, each industry has its own niche vocabulary, the person you are interacting with is just using theirs!

If you still find it intimidating, politely let them know you are just looking, you are happy to walk around yourself and if you have any questions, you will let them know.  They will quickly leave you alone and remember – they want you in these spaces.

Reason Three – Price Point

So, you have made it past the door like a bank. Navigated away from the sales assistant who is watching you like a hawk and now you stumble across a work of art you like. The problem? Its price tag is accompanied by the most 0’s you have ever seen in your whole life!

This is a BIG REASON so many people find the art world intimidating but it shouldn’t be so! The history of the art world is made up of stories of record breaking paintings and sculptures selling for millions and millions of pounds, but whoever started the rumor that in order to be permitted to see such high value objects you need deep pockets to match the price tag, has a lot to answer for.

Just because you cannot buy something (or anything) doesn’t mean you can’t look.

Think about it like this – do you buy something in every single shop you go into on your local high street? What about browsing on the internet? Buy everything you see there? Probably not, am I right? 

Just because you aren’t buying doesn’t mean you do not have a right to look. You do. 

Art is for everyone. Whether you are looking or buying, you belong in these spaces – so get out there and explore them!

And if these spaces make you uncomfortable then it’s simply a case of practicing being in them.

Now go see some art!

Jo McLaughlin

June 2021

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