The art world – a champagne lifestyle…?

Susan Mumford by Chris King

Photograph by Chris King

I can only imagine the number of full time artists and gallerists who have received the following response when they tell non-art world people their chosen career path: “You must enjoy a wonderful lifestyle.” In my case, I can’t count the number of times that others have made such a remark, which normally includes at least one reference to champagne.

When someone visits a gallery, the setting is most often a seemingly relaxed atmosphere with not a lot going on, apart from socializing and talking to people about the art on display. Indeed, this is exactly what the curator and maker want to achieve – that is, a peaceful setting presenting gorgeous creations away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

It is often the case that an artist or gallerist will have a bottle of bubbly chilling in the fridge at all times, just in case that big collector visits and the moment is right.

The need to socially engage with patrons at gallery and exhibition events can present a challenge since such occasions are key selling opportunities that require one to at the top of one’s game. How can you navigate sales negotiations or provide an articulate quote to a journalist following an evening enjoying good conversation and fine wine? Booze makes socialising easier, but by using just a touch of EQ (emotional intelligence), one quickly understands that hosts and artists alike are well received when seemingly partaking in social festivities.

So, what should one not do? Do not for goodness sake dilute wine with water. In my formative days in the art world I tried this technique once and in short, it’s terrible. I found it to be such a revolting exercise that I proceeded to drink a single bottle of beer for the rest of the evening! That must have been an interesting look in my cocktail dress at such a high profile vernissage…

And what can one do to blend in yet maintain total clarity of mind? Drink juice that has the appearance of the drink one’s guests are sipping, presented in the same style of glass. For example, cranberry juice works well for red wine and likewise, apple juice has the look of white wine. For bubbly varieties, try sparkling cordials in which the colour has a matching appearance.

You will find that while guests are taking closer and closer looks at the price list, you can effectively interact for the benefit of the show’s success. And then at the end of the night, you can enjoy a toast with that special bottle you tucked away in the back, to thank those that have helped and to celebrate success.

Name: Susan, 30-35

Profession: Arts Entrepreneur at Be Smart About Art, Susan Mumford Arts Projects & Association of Women Art Dealers

Drinking Habits: Moderate

From: Arkansas, USA

Lives: London