This week we sit down with Hannah Gulledge who is the Head of Communications at SCOPE Art Show. Before working at SCOPE, Hannah worked for a small gallery in Brooklyn and as a Production Assistant for a celebrity photographer. Hannah has lots of great insight about working at an art fair and she is thrilled to share her art advice for fellow young people starting out in the art world. Please enjoy this week’s Frank Talk here!
What was your first job in the Arts?
My first job in the Arts was interning at the Birmingham Museum of Art in the Development Department. Working in Development provided me a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with multiple different departments around the museum and understand the how they interconnected.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
While at the BMA, I learned a lot about communicating with artists. The focus of the internship was to assist in planning their Summer Art and Concert series, and while on the team, I had the opportunity to work with local artists and musicians. I was involved in the planning meetings, helped brainstorm ideas, and provided support for the talent. Learning how to listen and support artists and talent was invaluable and has carried over to every job I’ve had since.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be an artist. I went through a painting phase, a theatre phase, and a photography phase– among a handful of others. Some point along the way, I realized my desire to create was actually a desire to cultivate. While pursuing my undergrad in New York, I was introduced to ways I could be a part of the arts community that allowed me to support artists and art lovers alike. That was a big turning point for me.
What do you do now?
Currently, I am the Head of Communications for SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show based out of New York. In my role, I manage our partnerships, digital content, and the VIP and Press departments.
Where are you from?
What is the arts community like there?
The arts community is really thriving in Birmingham. Between the museums, science centers, historical landmarks, and stellar music venues, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
When I was younger, I had it in my head that I couldn’t pursue anything arts related while in the south. In a roundabout way, this small way of looking at the world opened my eyes to the rich arts community in my hometown and beyond. That realization taught me the important lesson that art could and, more importantly, should come from everywhere—not just big cities. How monotonous would art be if artists were only working out of major cities? Diversity of people and ideas gives art the power to reach and teach people the way it does.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
As a young person in the industry, the best piece of advice I have is to try everything. The more experience you have cross industry, the more value you can bring to your future employer and co-workers.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Getting to travel and help produce our show in Basel was an experience I’ll never forget.
What has been a challenge for you?
I sometimes have a hard time letting go of projects or partners that end up not working out. I had to learn early on that sometimes it doesn’t matter how prepared or how much work you put into a project, things don’t always work out, and that’s okay.
What is something you do every day at work?
Throughout the day, I make sure to check up on art world news. It’s key in not just being well versed in the industry but in spotting new trends.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
Let’s just say, you haven’t truly worked Miami Art Week until you’re asked to give VIP tours to C-list actors and rappers.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
A good employee doesn’t let their pride get in the way of team dynamics. A good boss trusts their employees and gives them opportunities to bring new ideas to the table.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
A hirable person is someone who is adaptable to different kinds of environments and teams while still having a keen sense of self.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace?
Positivity— this industry too often breeds cynics.
What are things you can do proactively boost your CV?
If you’re entering the art world for the first time and looking for more experience, I’d recommend volunteering at a museum. Many volunteer programs don’t require too many hours a month, so it’s easy to tack it on to your normal day job.
Are there any tips you can give people entering the workforce?
When I first entered the art world, I brushed off the advice to network, but I quickly realized that it really is all about who you know. Make meaningful connections, show your face at events, do the work, and watch new doors open!
In your experience, what are things to do and things to avoid during an interview?
Prepare well, but not so well that it sounds like you’re reading answers off a script. The person is interviewing you because they want to make sure you’d be a good fit on their team—as an employee and a person.
Any other anecdotes about your experience in the art world that you would like to share?
It sounds silly, but always wear comfortable shoes to the fairs!
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
Sam Gilliam’s solo show at the Kunstmuseum in Basel was really great. It reflected on the interplay between sound, color, and the artistic practice.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
My taste is kind of all over the place, but if I had the choose today I would love to own pieces by Matisse, Cezanne, Tina Barney, Mark Rothko, and Matt Kleberg.