Many artists who make a living from their work employ a studio assistant—or, if they’re lucky, a whole team of experts to help them manage their art business.
A studio assistant can be a valuable asset to a flourishing art business, assisting with everyday tasks around the studio like packing artwork, preparing canvases or materials, setting up equipment, sourcing models or props, managing accounts and even writing exhibition proposals.
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If you’re at the stage in your career where you’re thinking of hiring a studio assistant, congratulations! Here are some tips for getting a good one!
Look for someone who appreciates the opportunity
Most studio assistants are artists themselves. They relish the chance to be inside the studio of a professional artist and learn from your success.
Choose someone who is enthusiastic about your artwork and the chance to learn about life inside a working studio. An assistant’s job isn’t glamorous, so experience is never as important as a good attitude and enthusiasm.
Write a list of essential skills
Before interviewing potential assistants, decide on the skills you’ll require them to have. Remember that some things can be taught (such as darkroom process) but you might not have the time or energy to teach them.
Other things you might want your assistant to have would be a driver’s license, a head for numbers (if they’re dealing with accounts) and fluency in more than one language.
Write it all down and ask each candidate about them—it’s no good hiring someone for on-location work only to discover they can’t get anywhere unless there’s a bus stop.
Ask for recommendations
Talk to your other artist friends about their studio assistants. Are they happy with them? Would they recommend them for the duties you require? Are there any essential skills they wish their assistant had?
If you’ve seen the good work ethic and happy service of one of your friend’s assistants, why not ask if they could work for you as well? Most studio assistants work part time freelance, and would be able to take on more than one client.
Talk to local art schools and art students
Art schools and programs are probably the best place to look for potential studio assistants, since many of the students hope one day to become professional artists and would love the chance to see how a studio is run.
Approach the program director and ask if they could recommend someone directly, or at least make an announcement in class.
Depending on the duties your assistant needs to perform, you may even be able to hire a high school student who’s interested in art. Most high school art students have training in basic equipment use and techniques, and would relish the opportunity to gain such valuable experience before they decide on their future art career.
Any other advice for hiring a studio assistant? Let us know!