The Artmosphere: Do You Know Your Art Crowd?

Posted by: Lyra Pappin

Everyone is familiar with the clichés about the art world.  Some are good and some are bad, most are amusing, but which ones are true?


We can never be sure which of the Art Clichés we’ll meet in galleries and at shows, so let’s take a tongue-in-cheek glance at the folks you might encounter when you step into The Artmosphere. 


The Slob


Usually a painter or maybe a fashion designer, The Slob is so into art that he or she just doesn’t have time to dress according to “society’s standards”.  Instead, The Slob’s typically long and scraggly hair, plain white t-shirt and baggy jeans indicate that he or she lives, breathes, and dies for art.  Of course, these so-called plain clothes always have at least two shades of paint on them at all times.  Not a moment of The Slob’s art-filled day could be substituted for such trivialities as showering and shopping.  The Slob is also so dedicated to art, that he or she apparently has little time to eat, traditionally being wiry thin.


Slobs have an affinity for smoking cigarettes and looking bored, which is common in the Artmosphere, but there is less disdain on their faces than say a Poser, or a Gal.


Although Slobs can be easily noted by their collective refusal to conform, this contradiction doesn’t necessarily negate all talent and creativity.  This look is easy to attain and it can be hard to identify a True Slob, though this kind is known to exist.   The True Slob, the most genuine classification, really doesn’t care about social conventions and is truly dedicated to creating. Miranda July evokes this kind of True Slob appeal, which is also noted by an occasional attempt at actually dressing appropriately, revealing enough confidence that we will note the Inner Slob.


Slobs also tend to be the friendliest of the Artmosphere crowd, though generally shy and reserved.  This may account for some initial aloof attitude, but most Slobs have warm hearts, so don’t be afraid to approach them as they appreciate interest in their work. 


(Tip: Everyone in the Artmosphere either secretly or overtly enjoys discussing his or her talents).


The Gallery Girl aka The Gal-Gal


Gal-Gals are one of two things:  Pretty girls and/or pretty girls majoring in some kind of Art program.  Gal-Gals work at art galleries either because they are interested in art or because they appeal to the Artmosphere.  What would a gallery be without a thin girl in a black dress standing around?


Unless they are models with little to no interest in art, the Gal-Gal can actually be quite helpful.  Besides pointing out the washroom and coat check, she can provide insight to Posers and Collectors alike as to which exhibitions are most impressive or popular.


In spite of their expensive taste and pristine art educations, Gal-Gals aren’t really there to talk, so their looks of disdain and boredom could be genuine, though they also contribute to the vibe of the collection.  A friendly Gal-Gal would be hard to come across, though they are known to be receptive to older men with expensive clothing.  Imagine an unknown Mischa Barton in all black who thinks she should and will be famous and you get the idea. 


Always approach Gal-Gals with caution and a direct question; please refrain from suggestive comments and attempts at wit; scorn comes naturally to Gals.


The Artiste


The Artiste is a cooler version of The Slob, both in appearance and attitude.  Instead of eschewing social constructs, The Artiste exhibits his or her wildly innovative artistic soul by blowing our minds with their debonair attitude and clothing style.  Revealing just how successful they are, Artistes dress with a keen eye for fashion that is ahead of the curve.


Generally eccentric, willfully peculiar, and smugly confident, the Artiste wears well-tailored clothing that is just a quirk away from being disastrous.  Think David Bowie or David Byrne in this group.  A neat suit, with something flashy to highlight their creativity.  A pair of odd glasses, brightly coloured socks, or an unexpected and outlandish pattern on a shirt are staples of the Artiste’s well-to-do wardrobe.


The Artiste’s style is not for the meek or mild, but is always impressive and appropriate.  He or she knows that over the top is not creative as it is too easy.  Willing to take risks and revealing an intelligent eye for fashion, the Artiste is nicer than you might think and a genuinely interesting individual.  He or she hates to be seen as “trying” to do anything, so a clumsily feigned modesty can be expected.  Although the Artiste also appreciates compliments, he or she secretly expects them more than The Slob, so you should be prepared for long monologues.


The Collector


The Collector would love to be as finely dressed as the Artiste but rarely pulls it off.  Their styles are similar, though Collectors reveal a wider range of looks and generally focus on high-end designers.


Depending on the gallery, Collectors can be anything from an Old Money fur coat and cashmere scarf couple or a pressed white shirt and black pants modern minimalist pair. 


Collectors spend more time than anyone else in the Artmosphere in galleries, gazing thoughtfully at works and noting the intricacies of pieces they wish they had created. 


Although collectors may view art as an investment or regard their grand purchases as an indication of their status, galleries and artists alike rely on these big spenders to keep the art economy churning.  Many collectors even like and appreciate the art they buy, having intricate knowledge of the history and business of art.


Collectors vary in temperament and pretension, so tread lightly.  If you are a poser, do not attempt to take on a well-dressed Collector, as he or she may sneer at you with such force that your black-rimmed glasses will fog up.


The Poser


The Poser knows that being interested in art is a cool intellectual pastime, but possesses neither the brain nor patience to put actual time into learning about it.  His or her interest in art is guided by the trendy and obvious choices.  He or she would laud the glories of Picasso but never know that he was born in Malaga, not Madrid.   These embarrassing errors don’t cause The Poser the requisite shame and he or she will usually try to make some kind of intentionally blasé comment about the emphasis he or she places on the art, not the trivial facts.


The Poser can be noted for their aforementioned black-rimmed glasses and showily typical “weird” outfits.  Often mistaken for art students, The Poser doesn’t realize the difference between The Artiste’s tasteful eccentricities and overloads on the ridiculous and annoying.  Expected behaviour may include the propensity to wear something religious like a rosary and call it ironic.


The Poser can also be found halting conversations, making people mumble uncomfortably, or hitting on a Gal-Gal.  Posers are conspicuous and tempting to taunt, but this should be avoided.  In the very least, a Poser in the Artmosphere has selected a worthwhile interest to feign cultivating.  If you are feeling extraordinarily generous, you may even attempt taking a Poser under your wing.  He or she could grow into the next great Collector or Artiste.


Living in Artland

Life in the Artmosphere can be draining but also exhilarating and educational.  And the best thing about those in the Artmosphere is they never take themselves too seriously.  Right?

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Lyra Pappin
Toronto, ON, Canada

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