When we are looking for temporary or permanent candidates for vacancies in art galleries, we are principally looking for someone with an interest in and passion for art, as well as experience working with members of the public. This means you don’t have to have specific experience working in an art gallery, if you do that’s fantastic, but strong customer service skills are just as important,
We are looking for a diverse range of people across all ages, genders and ethnicities. We find work for candidates who have years of experience in customer service, galleries or studios and are looking for part-time flexible work. We also give opportunities to candidates who would like to get into a career in the art world and haven’t been able to get their foot in the door.
Many of our candidates have studied art at university, some have master’s degrees or even PhDs, so they know their subject well. However, they also need good people skills as being in primarily public facing roles they will be engaging with members of the public, answering questions so enthusiasm and passion are as important as knowledge!
A great way of showing you are a good candidate is to have done some voluntary work in your local gallery or arts centre. If you don’t have a background working in the arts, this is a great way of showing you have what it takes to work in a gallery. If you have studied art or curation but have not had experience working with members of the public, volunteering is a great way of showing and developing your customer service skills.
I definitely like to see applications from people who have done voluntary work in their local museums or galleries as a way of getting some experience, as they definitely come across as someone who’s proactive and keen. If you live in north London, I’d recommend approaching the Camden Art Centre, for example, because it relies largely on volunteers; I have subsequently been able to place many of these volunteers in paid work.
Gallery assistant – This role involves monitoring the galleries, engaging with members of the public and answering questions, remaining vigilant to your surroundings and the safety and security of the gallery. People will expect you to not only know about the art on show but also have an opinion, know some background, and be able to engage with them about it. There will be times when you have to ask people not to do something, such as touching an exhibit, or eating or drinking in the gallery, so you must be confident enough to approach them and handle the situation politely but firmly. Be aware that gallery work can have very busy and quieter periods but this is a good time to learn more about the art you are working with in order to be able to talk about it knowledgeably.
If you are sent by Artisan to work at an exhibition, you will be shown around and briefed on it, ensuring you are more comfortable and confident at work. For permanent roles, individual galleries will offer full training which would likely involve more security aspects of the role.
Ticketing and Retail – For these roles, a retail or box office background is an advantage, but you will receive training on the technology and the specific systems each gallery uses.
Sadly, art galleries have been heavily affected by the pandemic, and while the majority of galleries have been able to open their doors, the government guidelines do change. Safety measures and social distancing mean that many of the smaller galleries are having to restrict the numbers of visitors at any one time. It is a great time to get out and support your local galleries!