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A Professional Portrait by Ben Springett

Gallery Manager & Head of Sales

Alon Zakaim Fine Art

Published: 2nd July 2017

What inspired you to pursue a career in the arts?

Probably about mid-way through my art history undergraduate degree in London did I realise that working with art every day would potentially be very rewarding. Internships with a couple of art dealers and an auction house also made me realise that following this path was right for me.

Can you tell us a little about your role?

As Gallery Manager in a small but fast-paced commercial gallery, I have to oversee all aspects of the gallery, from purchases and sales of artworks to arranging exhibitions and fairs and even washing mugs! We’re a small team of only four so everyone has to chip in with everything to ensure the smooth running of the business.

What does your average day entail?

The interesting part of the job is that no day is ever really the same and so it’s hard to define an ‘average’ day. I’ll often start the day running through my to do list, responding to emails, and making a loose plan of action for the day. More often than not this goes out the window when gallery owner arrives with a long list of other jobs! Being able to prioritise and multi task is certainly key.

How did you get your job?

I was promoted to my current role, but my first job in the gallery as assistant was advertised on the Guardian jobs website and I applied accordingly. Fortunately a friend of mine worked in another gallery on the same street, knew my boss and was kind enough to put in a good word. This certainly helped as the gallery received around two hundred applications but I still had to get through three interviews!

What is the best part of your job?

Aside from the excitement of not knowing what each day will bring, it’s always a pleasure to handle top quality artworks every day. Working closely with a small team who are great friends as well as colleagues is also something I value highly.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Keeping on top of all of the admin and paperwork is always a challenge. Like all jobs, there are boring parts such as paying bills and updating numerous spreadsheets which can be very time consuming and not very glamorous, but they’re equally as important in keeping the gallery functioning in an organised manner.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Being able to assist in the building of two important private collections of Impressionist and Modern art over a relatively short period was highly rewarding. I got to handle some museum quality paintings and travelled throughout Europe and to NY. It was very difficult to keep on top of all of the administration and a steep learning curve, but it benefitted the way I work today greatly.

What is your favourite Artwork?

It’s a tough question, but Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is probably the one painting that made me realise how important it is to really look at a picture closely and for a good length of time and inspired my choice of MA course (19th Century French Painting) and my future career working with an Impressionist art dealer.

Which artist would you have liked or would like to meet?

Canaletto. Attention to detail is something I pride myself on and the one thing I try to teach anyone who works with us at the gallery. Canaletto was the master at it!

What advice would you give to people trying to enter the art industry?

I found that interning in a number of different areas of the industry was useful as it helped me realise which route I wished to go down. Use the internships wisely and try to meet a good number of people in the trade as the wider your network, the easier your job becomes. Be honest, trustworthy, professional and as nice to deal with as possible so people remember you for the right reasons.

If you weren’t in the art industry, what would you be doing?

I’ve always been into music so would either be working as a record producer or aiming to be the next Ringo Starr…