This week we sit down with Bianca Collins. Bianca is the Editor of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Los Angeles “Art Talk” and is also the Executive Assistant to the art critic Edward Goldman, AND the Founder of TheArtMinion.com! Bianca is truly an arts advocate, working hard to make the fine art world more accessible to Angelenos through cultural programs and her blog, The Art Minion. We are thrilled to share her career advice and work experiences in this Frank Talk with you!
What was your first job in the Arts?
In 2010 I began an internship at the first street art gallery in LA, Hold Up Art, which no longer exists.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
I learned how to spackle and sandpaper walls between exhibitions, to silkscreen posters, to edit press releases, and throw a killer opening reception. It was an important moment for me to realize that I really could be a part of this world, that my passions for uplifting talented artists’ work could evolve into a career.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
I fell into an upper level art history course at the University of Southern California because it seemed like the most interesting way to earn my Diversity requirement. The course ended up changing my life. I was challenged and engaged in a manner I’d never experienced in academia prior to that moment. I felt an immediate inspiration to share this knowledge with the world, although I didn’t know how I’d do so in the long run.
What do you do now?
I’ve been the Editor of KCRW (NPR Los Angeles)’s Art Talk with Edward Goldman, a weekly report on art and culture during All Things Considered, for the last 3+ years. I recently ended my blog’s hiatus – check it out at www.theartminion.com. Moving forward, I will focus on highlighting female and minority artist’s work. I am also a freelance cultural event producer.
Where are you from?
A military brat, I moved around the country until my father retired and moved our family to Calabasas, CA. I currently live in Echo Park, CA.
What is the arts community like there?
Downtown Los Angeles, the adjacent neighborhood to the east, is rapidly becoming the new epicenter of culture in Los Angeles. Museums, artist studios, and galleries are popping up everywhere, taking advantage of huge, long-defunct buildings that need a new lease on life. It’s a very exciting time to be working and living here as an arts advocate.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
As a triple minority – female, Latinx, and LGBTQ – I feel an immense responsibility to uplight the work of artists who similarly have to fight against institutional biases favoring white men. My heart and motivation especially lies with my Latinx community that is so often diminished and sidelined by the fine art world.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Never be afraid to ask questions, have an opinion, or befriend the people you admire most. Very few people, when asked to reveal more about what they do, will say no.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Working with 501(c)(3) A Window Between Worlds as Artist Liaison on the two-year community engagement initiative At the Core: Transforming Trauma Together with 10 human service organizations across LA County was one of the most fulfilling opportunities I’ve ever had to share the healing nature of art.
What has been a challenge for you?
After almost a decade of working in various capacities in the art world, finding a sweet spot of passion, ability, and opportunity continues to be the most important task on which to focus my energy. It’s been hardest to reject opportunities to keep myself focused on the avenues that will serve me best in the long run.
What is something you do every day at work?
It’s important to me to keep up to date with the latest art news, so I am an avid reader of art publications.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
A good employee can see around the corner to anticipate issues and prevent them from arising. A good boss doesn’t diminish the work of their employee or take credit for the grunt work when it wasn’t their own.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
Personally, I think enthusiasm is the best trait one can bring to the table at an interview. The person who wants the job most will usually work the hardest to prove their worth.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace?
Working hard and getting along with your colleagues is worth its weight in gold.
What are things you can do proactively boost your CV?
If you can, accept internships. Join committees. Figure out any way you can to get a foot in the door at the places you hope one day to work.
Are there any tips you can give people entering the workforce?
Remember that you likely won’t figure out exactly where you want to be at first. It will take time and several different positions before you realize what will make you happy, and where you’ll be most effective. Today, I don’t want anything to do with the commercial nature of art, even though the first two jobs I held over four years was in galleries. I know now that I prefer to support artists and their work through written features and opportunities to engage with the public.
In your experience, what are things to do and things to avoid during an interview?
Avoid lying about prior experience. The truth is always more appealing to an employer than a candidate who is clearly full of it.
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
Olafur Eliasson’s Reality Projector at Marciano Art Foundation was mesmerizing and haunting. I spent over an hour in the gallery taking in the bright colors and mysterious noises. MAF’s impressive current exhibition of Ai Weiwei’s Life Cycle features three huge bodies of work that incorporate thousands of pieces of traditional Chinese materials. MAF is a relatively under-the-radar new space in LA doing major things.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Egon Schiele, Robert Mapplethorpe, Yayoi Kusama, Kerry James Marshall, and Richard Serra are on my ultimate wish-list. To own even one minor work by one of these artists would be a dream come true.