Skip to main content

Social Works?: Live 2019

Connecting with Curators and Commissioners: A Guide for Artists

Engaging with curators and commissioners is a crucial step in an artist's journey, not just for securing exhibitions but for building awareness and relationships within the art world. Here's a guide to help you navigate these interactions with confidence.

Connecting with Curators

Curators may be linked to galleries, museums, or independent projects. They curate art based on themes, concepts, or specific artistic movements.

  1. Research and Relevance: Identify curators whose interests align with your work. Not all curators are affiliated with galleries; many operate independently or within institutions. Tailoring your research can lead to more meaningful connections.
  2. Showcase Selectively: Presenting a curated selection of your work is crucial. High-quality images and a clear articulation of your concepts can pique a curator's interest. 
  3. Build Relationships: Engage with curators through art events, talks, or social media. Offer insights into your work without the immediate expectation of an exhibition. Genuine interactions can foster long-term connections.
  4. Invite to Studio Visits: If possible, inviting a curator to your studio offers a personal insight into your practice, providing a deeper context to your work.

Engaging with Commissioners

Commissioners may be looking for artists for public art projects, private collections, or specific initiatives. Their focus is often on finding artists who can create works tailored to a particular brief or space.

  1. Understand the Brief: Clearly understand what the commissioner is seeking. Tailoring your proposal to fit the brief demonstrates your ability to meet specific requirements.
  2. Highlight Relevant Work: Showcase projects or pieces that align with the commissioner's needs. Including work that demonstrates your versatility can be advantageous.
  3. Professional Presentation: Your proposal should be professional and concise, outlining how you intend to meet the brief. Including sketches or concepts can be helpful. 
  4. Network Widely: Commissioners often come from various sectors, including public bodies, private organisations, or community groups. Expanding your network can open up diverse commissioning opportunities.

General Tips for Engaging with Curators and Commissioners

  • Clear Goals: Understand what you’re trying to achieve. Are you seeking exhibition opportunities, or are you looking to work on commissioned projects? This clarity can guide your approach.
  • Online Presence: A professional online portfolio is invaluable. Axis offers a distinguished platform for members, especially through the Professional Membership, which enhances your visibility to both curators and commissioners.
  • Stay Informed and Connected: Keep abreast of calls for artists, exhibition proposals, and commissioning opportunities. The Axis network can be a vital resource for such information.

Engaging with curators and commissioners requires a nuanced approach, with an understanding of their distinct roles and objectives. Through targeted research, professional presentation of your work, and leveraging networks like Axis, you can create opportunities for exhibitions and commissions, tailored to your artistic goals. 

Joining Axis opens doors to a supportive community and resources designed to amplify your voice and work in the contemporary art scene.


Further reading


Highlights: 20 - 26 May, 2024

By Axis web

COMING SOON! The Axis Fellowship 2024


Curated Selection: Architecture

Become a member

We support our members with: insurance, networks, space, opportunities, R&D awards, profiling, advice and mentoring.
Become a member