Gita Joshi is an art curator, coach for artists and writer of Show Your Art: How to Build an Art Career Without a Gallery.
She studied art history and trained in curating at Central St Martins. She opened a gallery in 2013, called Orso Major and it was an award winning gallery at Waterloo, London til 2016. Since then, she has had many hats from curating to helping artists or been a juror for art competitions. On top of that, she’s the host of the Curator’s salon a magazine and podcast.
Interview with a busy lady on a mission to empower artists.
Gita, You are a curator, and also a coach for artists. How did you come up with this mission to help artists through your book or podcast for example?
When I opened my gallery in Central London, I received a lot of ‘bad’ submissions from artists. Whilst I couldn’t represent them in my own gallery, I was aware I could still help them on their applications and submissions to other galleries and this just grew organically alongside my other work with the Open Studio and exhibitions. It’s not something I initially set out to do, but over the past few years it’s just run parallel to all of my projects within the industry and has been such a great experience – I’m so proud that The Curator’s Salon has really brought everything I was doing in the art world to a full circle and has enabled me to diversify the way I share my coaching and expertise into tangible resources such as my book, affirmation cards and The Curator’s Salon podcast.
What are the common problems artists face when they come to work with you?
A lack of confidence and Impostor Syndrome are probably the two most prevalent issues that artists are facing when they come to work with me. They know that there’s a market for their work and understand that their work is a valuable cultural contribution, but they might not know how to reach their audiences or how get in front of galleries. It is a common belief amongst artists that the only way to sell their artwork is through art galleries and as detailed in my book, Show Your Art: How to Build an Art Career Without a Gallery, this simply isn’t the case. There are so many avenues that artists can explore to get their work seen and I think the rise of virtual shows and digital outlets will prove to be pivotal in the way that we consume and display art in the coming years.
Equally, I think that this mindset is rooted in the desire for validation so then the next step is about understanding the root of these problems and teaching these artists how to think differently and more strategically. I believe that you always have to be your own best advocate. Self-confidence is something that a lot of people are lacking and is something that I always encourage when speaking to artists. It’s about being the best advocate of your work, but also of yourself. There is a section in my book, where I talk about ‘learning to be your own agent’. You have to believe in yourself and make great work, but you also have to ensure you don’t get fatigued by having to do your own marketing. It’s hard work, but if you stay focused and believe in yourself you will get to where you want to be. Once you understand the roles within your art business it makes it easier to hire people to support you, so you don’t have to be doing all the things yourself forever!
You are currently working on a project for The Curator’s Salon magazine: can you tell us more about it?
The magazine, Art Seen, is set to launch in May 2021, and is another format for me to help artists to show their art within a publication. As a publication, it’s more of an evergreen format compared to a time-based exhibition, which obviously has a closing date and is a more traditional way of showcasing art. Art Seen will contain a mix of interviews and artists’ features; it’s been a lot of work, but I really can’t wait to publish it.
What do you like the most about your work?
Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to meet so many interesting people and to work on so many different projects; I’m so happy with the way that everything has aligned and enabled me to really follow my heart when it comes to work. I absolutely love what I do through curating and supporting artists by showing their art to wider audiences. The group coaching that I offer supports artists to empower themselves, which allows them to amplify their personal reach and messaging. It’s a very intuitive process and I love helping artists to find their own voice and self-belief, and paint their own path.
Why did you want to become a curator?
I always thought–and was always taught–that to work within the arts sector, you had to work for a museum. However, once I’d started my curating programme, I began to realise that there were different options for me to create a career for myself in the art world, without being an artist. Being a curator meant that I could still have a creative outlet, and work with the artists that I wanted to work with. A huge passion of mine has always been about showcasing artists who I feel deserve a wider audience, and I always enjoy discovering new artists through open calls.
How do you see the future of exhibitions and art fairs with the rise of online shows?
I still think they both definitely have a place and an audience: I don’t think that the return of exhibitions, as lockdown restrictions ease over the coming months, will negatively impact virtual shows or vice versa. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how exhibitions adapt as we’re allowed to view them in person again, but I think our year in lockdown and dealing with the pandemic will certainly impact how much people appreciate seeing art in person.
On the other hand, virtual shows have provided a vital lifeline for artists; they have enabled them to have their work seen on platform across the globe and be opened up to an audience that they wouldn’t normally have access to. As they are pretty much future and COVID-proof, I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. Whilst museums and other attractions are beginning to be able to re-open, I do think that overall visitor numbers and accessibility will continue to be affected whilst the stricter regulations and limited capacity measures remain in place, at least in the short-term.
What else have you got planned for this year?
I’m very much looking forward to the launch of Art Seen in May, as it’s something I’ve dedicated a lot of time to, which features some amazing artists. I’ve also got a couple of virtual exhibitions in the pipeline, including Intrinsic Nature in June and one another dedicated to artists aged over 40years for August.
In the summer I will be jurying a new art prize called Women United Art Prize organised by Mona Lerch of Art Mums United. https://www.instagram.com/womenunited_art_prize/
I’m also really looking forward to the TRANS|FORM exhibition with ArtCan that is likely to happen in November.