This summer I interned at Con Artist Collective & Gallery in New York City. The gallery is located in the Lower East Side, a prime location for the New York art scene. LES is abundant with galleries, street art, and good food; thus, it is quite popular with the youth. Con Artist Collective prides itself on being an open collaborative space and gallery, exhibiting works by members.
At Con Artist, I work as a gallery assistant and am responsible for the day-to-day running of the space. My tasks are quite expansive and there is a lot of overlap with other intern positions in the gallery. I perform tasks such as storage and handling of artworks, submitting group exhibition ideas from the forum onto the calendar, contacting artists to submit pieces for shows, contacting press and updating media profiles, and hanging shows. Most of the time I perform a lot of administrative duties such as adding our upcoming exhibitions to our press, communicating with artists in our forum and assisting at the front desk. I also do a minor bit of graphic design work for our web fliers, as well as writing one-sheets for our press releases. In my first week I was tasked with creating a list of possible show themes and fitting them into our calendar. Last week I hung my first show. The gallery is unique in that we do not curate shows; so, we usually have an interesting assortment of submissions. Hanging usually takes place on Sunday nights and Monday mornings. Show themes differ weekly and we have gallery receptions every Wednesday night. I work 4 days a week for 8 hours and have weekends off. We also function as a workspace, so I interact a lot with artists in the community.
This internship has really opened my eyes to administrative careers in the arts. Up until now, I thought my only career path would be a job as a graphic designer. I worried that my work would not have a real impact on the arts scene. Weirdly enough, I’ve fallen in love with having a lot of responsibility and viewing the business-oriented side of the Arts industry. I even started looking up jobs as a gallery assistant due to how strongly I took to the position.
My advice to future interns, would be to apply early to jobs. It’s never too early to secure a summer internship and it really eases the pressure in the last few weeks of school. Speak with your advisor about credit for your internship and have it approved well before you start. I didn’t hear back from any of the other internships I had applied to and came upon Con Artist purely by chance. I had googled artist collectives in New York and it was one of the first results. Once at your internship, don’t be scared to ask lots of questions during the first few weeks so that you’re not stuck when your boss leaves you to your own devices. Because of the open-ended nature of tasks at Con Artist, it helped to have a list of tasks for every shift. Be observant and don’t be afraid to interact with other interns.
Though cliché to say, receiving summer funding was a blessing. Without it, I likely would not have been able to realize nor afford my dream summer in New York. I was able to take on an unpaid internship and also cover my basic expenses in the city.