Illustration by Petra Larsen

Illustration by Petra Larsen


Etiquette for Artful Living

Dear Babs, I’m an art student about to graduate with a BFA in photography at one of the best art schools in the Los Angeles area. Is it okay to work in a commercial photography field while showing artwork in galleries? Besides presenting two separate portfolios/series of work: one for commercial, the other fine art, how do you recommend going about this? The reality is after graduating school I need a steady paying job. I have acquired technical skills and thought this could be a good way to make a living and still produce my art as well. Will this inhibit having my fine art taken seriously and showing in galleries?  
—Jade, Los Angeles

Dear Jade, The risk of taking a job in the commercial world is the fact that your colleagues will not be artists, per se. I fully understand the need to make a living, beware though that you may begin to fall astray from the art world. But this could become a world you might prefer. Think of all the bullshit and disappointment you’ll be missing by not being connected to the art world anymore. You’ll be surrounded by actual people who aren’t cut-throat megalomaniacs and competitive artist “friends.” Something to consider. But in the end, it should be okay to straddle that line between the commercial world and the art world. To really work the system, it is always best to be in the system. But nothing’s permanent, so give it a try, make some money, develop marketable skills, make your own art…and stay alert.

Dear Babs, I’m an emerging artist and was recently out of town at an art event/party where I met some art dealers who live in the same city as I do. They inquired about a studio visit. I said okay to one of them but when I got back home they started contacting me constantly and it seemed like they were coming on to me, which was confusing because all I was interested in was a professional relationship and possibly showing my work with their gallery. My boyfriend is now mad and I’m not sure if I even want the art dealer to come for a studio visit as it is in my garage. I feel like they are not taking me seriously as a young artist. What do you think is the best way to deal with this type of situation?

  —Violet, Los Angeles

Dear Violet, Could it be possible that they are coming on to you and still want to see your art? I would entertain the idea of a studio visit and always keep the conversation on your work. Make sure your boyfriend is present when you have your studio visit—just to be safe. Art dealers can be sleazy, but they also can make you rich and famous. It’s a slippery world, the art world. By the way, tell your boyfriend to chill…you can’t help it that other men might find you attractive! Good luck.

Babs cares.
Please email your questions to