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Heading for a career in the art sector?  Get the low down from Karl

Heading for a career in the art sector? Get the low down from Karl

Karl Chitham, Director, Tauranga Art Gallery

What did you want to be when you were 16?
An artist

What did you end up doing when you left school?
I spent a year at AUT doing a certificate in Graphic Design (before computers), then did a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Jewellery, then went to Teachers College and became a High School teacher for 7 years before changing career and becoming an Art Curator. 

Describe a day in your life at work:
A normal day is split between emails, writing for exhibitions, meetings with the Tauranga Art Gallery team, artists, businesses and people in the community and I also get to curate exhibitions.

Why do you love your job/career?
Being the Director of an art gallery allows me to work with a whole lot of really creative people, who are interested in thinking about and exploring new ideas. I also get to see the reaction of visitors and get to talk to them about the artworks and the exhibitions which is really enjoyable.  

How did you get into your career?
When I decided to become a curator I initially started up a small artist-run gallery with some friends from art school. Later on, after I had decided to move on from teaching, I applied for a job as a Programme Coordinator in a craft & design gallery in Auckland called Objectspace and the rest is history.

What qualifications did you study?
I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts, a Diploma of Secondary Teaching and a Masters of Fine Arts. 

Do you have any advice for getting into your sector?
Moving through the art world requires you to make connections and build relationships. You have to work hard, have initiative and show perseverance. Looking at websites like Artists Alliance, The Big Idea and Tautai Trust will give you a good overview of the different jobs you could do in the sector.

What do you wish you had done differently?
Each choice you make happens for a reason and will lead you to where you are meant to be. I wouldn’t do anything differently as each decision led me to where I am today.

What would you say to your teenage self about defining your future?
I do wish I had been a little more motivated and procrastinated less when I was first out of High School. I also wish I hadn’t been so worried about what other people thought of me back then.