Monday, May 30, 2011

Art Snobs: Lessons I learned in one interview

It was just supposed to be an interview for my article. It ended up feeling more like the Inquisition.  Strange feeling when the interviewer becomes the interviewee. I learned a valuable lesson about people that day.

The art world is very competitive and arts professionals and collectors have a tendency to act snobbish. “Art snobs” I like to call them. You know who they are… The ones that ask “what did you study?” and “what do you do?” Well imagine how I feel when I studied and worked in business and marketing -- not art history or a gallery -- and try to move into the arts world.

So what do you do if you find yourself discussing Impressionist masters with an art snob? Here are a few takeaways that you may find useful when dealing with one. Or if you are a snob, perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two, dahling.

1.  Know your facts. Before making any statements, make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you’re meeting, be prepared and read as much as you can on their topic of expertise. Double or even triple check your facts if necessary.  Always ask, if you are in doubt. Art snobs will hold you to the fire and have no problem embarrassing you in front of others. I learned this the hard way when I published an article based on outdated information.

2.  Never make assumptions. Okay, okay, this is human nature. But beware if you are talking to an art snob! I assumed that this seemingly successful and sophisticated person, was open to an interview and would freely provide me information… wrong. This person assumed that -- and treated me like -- I was an unworldly, inexperienced kid... wrong. She kept taking calls and made condescending comments toward me the entire meeting. Meanwhile, earlier that day I interviewed one of the wealthiest and most revered collectors in town who gave me undivided attention and answered all my questions respectfully. When in doubt, always assume the highest and best of the person you are dealing with… Art snobs, this one goes for you!

3.  Don’t take it personally. Everyone’s got their baggage and insecurities. I sure do. Although I try to be more empathetic and thoughtful about how I approach people. Many people are not as intuitive. If you are meeting an art snob, keep in mind that they may have had a very expensive, fancy education or grown up in a different lifestyle. Simply put, they may not be comfortable in their own skin or don’t have the same level of emotional intelligence. Give people a break. If they are rude or disrespectful, it could be because they were not hugged as a child. Awww makes you want to take pity on them, huh?

4.  Be aware of your own vibe. Without realizing it, we may come across in a negative or unapproachable way. Perhaps you went in with a preconceived notion about the person that is creating a barrier? Goes back to a previous tip, try not to make assumptions about the other person.

If you've met an arts snob, or are one, I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you've experienced and if you can provide any insight.