10 Tips for Traveling the Art World with Style (and Brains)

Photo: Author

Photo: Author

If in any world "looks" are important, it is the art world.  Arts people are visual people, and their events are full of other arts people, whose job it is to notice things.  First impressions are therefore crucial.  However, they will only get you so far and, for the sake of conversation, it is far better to know what Gautier is designing than "what the Kardashians are wearing".

That said, here are my own 10 tips for traveling the art world stylishly and effectively.

1. Notebook 

You never know when inspiration will strike or when you will need to jot down a name, and looking like you are texting while someone else is talking is equally as offensive as actually doing so.  Plus, a little black Moleskine (yes, the black one) fits perfectly in every purse and pocket.

2. Watch

Time is precious in art and travel and no one wants to waste it.  A simple watch is the easiest way to keep up and, yet again, to avoid looking like the social second-grader who can't put down the iPhone.

3. Hand sanitizer and lotion

Because traveling is rough, and 80% of what you will do at Art Basel is shake hands.

4. Business cards

Art events are often social events, and it is important to make a lasting impression on the people you meet.  However, no one can possibly remember every name and face, so it is a good idea to have something tangible to bring to the table.  A simple, straight-forward, and personalized business card is best.  A word to the wise, however: use sparingly!

5. Noise-cancelling headphones

When traveling long distances with short deadlines, rest and focus are important, and a good pair of headphones can work wonders on a noisy plane.

6. Hands-free baggage

Whether at an airport or an opening, you will likely be asked to balance multiple things simultaneously (passport, champagne, handshake, etc.).  To do this gracefully is an accomplishment of understated genius.

7. A good book, magazine, or crossword puzzle

In any case, something that will improve rather than corrupt your vocabulary.

8. Water

Art and travel require energy and, as chic as your blue lipstick looks on your Starbucks cup, nothing can outshine a fresh face and attitude in conversation.

9. Tablet or smartphone

Alas!  When in public, you should avoid them as much as possible, but tablets and smartphones are essential for carrying lots of information in little space and, when on-the-go, apps like Hailo and Citymapper make being punctual and composed a little easier.

10. Smile

Smiling is the simplest way to show confidence in yourself.  When you smile, people understand that you are not afraid to be approached.  And this goes a long way for first impressions.