Every month, we’ll be highlighting professionals who have been working hard behind the scenes in the art world and killing it. They will share their stories, experience, and offer advice in what will be a monthly series dubbed “Jobs in the Art World.” We hope this inspires you to embark on that career move you’ve been wanting to take or just educate yourself on the hundreds of different career paths you can explore in the arts.
We’re kicking off the series with Ellie Hayworth of Third Eye, an art PR firm based in NYC. Ellie gave us the scoop about her background, current role, and of course, her favorite brunch spot.
AZ: Talk to us about what you do at Third Eye and what a typical day is for you.
Ellie: As an Account Executive at Third Eye, timeliness and accountability are key, so I depend on my list of to-dos and deadlines that I update and revisit throughout the day. These often include setting press appointments, pitching stories, and pivoting our media strategy in light of new developments and refreshed ideas. On any given day, I find myself working across a number of clients—preparing for a media preview at the New York Botanical Garden, drafting a press release for The Brant Foundation, or preparing post-event materials for benefits and galas.
The most rewarding days are those spent either at media previews, studio visits, curatorial walkthroughs, or exhibition openings. Cultivating leads and unearthing interesting story lines always makes for a rewarding endeavor, but enjoying the fruits of our labor in the company of passionate writers, visitors, and patrons is all-the-more interesting. It’s often through these personalized initiatives, like artist-led walkthroughs, studio visits, or opening receptions, that the story lines reveal themselves. That quasi-investigative activity is one aspect of the job that always proves rewarding. It’s then time to head back to the office—or access Gmail remotely–to facilitate and execute.
AZ: How did you get into art PR?
Ellie: While completing a Master’s program in art business at Sotheby’s Institute, I had a rather candid conversation with my thesis advisor—with whom I’ve had an ongoing friendship and owe much of my early professional success—who recommended that my passion for communicating would be well-applied in the field of public relations.
For some time I had entertained the idea of joining a gallery, with the hopes of growing into the role of sales director, or perhaps an art advisory firm, where I’d have the opportunity to assist collectors in amassing a collection that is both emotionally fulfilling and psychologically stimulating. Notwithstanding, I pursued an informational interview with Third Eye and was immediately taken with the company philosophy. It seemed the perfect marriage—an entrepreneurial environment where I was a part of a team acting as both ambassador and patron for various arts and culture initiatives, while helping facilitate the kind of thoughtful press coverage that our clients deserve.
AZ: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on thus far?
Ellie: Every project that comes our way proves a unique and exciting endeavor. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of working at Third Eye is that we are driven by projects we feel truly passionate about. That being said, the Aspen Art Museum’s ArtCrush was a particular highlight. As part of the week-long programming, I was exposed to exceptional private collections and afforded the opportunity to meet some of the foremost artistic voices in contemporary art, all of whom had joined in support of the Museum. A highlight of the week was an intimate hike on Aspen’s majestic Smuggler Mountain Trail. We were led by AAM’s CEO and Director, Heidi Zuckerman, and joined by Jack Pierson and his adorable Chihuahua, Chico—who did a commendable job of keeping astride with the group!
AZ: Favorite exhibition from 2016?
Ellie: The Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin exhibition at Andrea Rosen in the spring was incredible. I have long time been a fan of their work and this exhibition was a welcome opportunity to parse their complex practice in person. The gallery space was fundamentally transformed into four of the artists’ famed sculptural theaters—one of which featured a campsite with large inflatable tow-toys, where I spent countless hours immersed in the Fitch/Trecartin world of Mark Trade and his character-counterparts.
Another exhibition from 2016 that I felt was not only timely, but incredibly important in the scope of art history, was Galerie Lelong’s exhibition of rare video and documentary photographs by the late Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta. My mother’s family is of Cuban descent and I am quite proud of this aspect of my heritage. I find myself drawn to artists whose voices reflect the sensibilities of the homeland, one that I have not yet had the opportunity to explore myself. The mystery surrounding Mendieta’s life and death made the works all the more intriguing in person.
AZ: Is there any under-appreciated artist, art gallery, museum or work that you think everyone should know about?
Ellie: María Magdalena Campos Pons is an artist whose work and perspective resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Another female Cuban artist, Campos-Pons negotiates themes of diaspora, and her maternal ancestry through complex performance, assemblage, and photography. I’ve always found her work to be resonant, though one might argue even more so today—as the female voice has found particular solidarity in our current political landscape. Though she has held exhibitions at respected institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, she is certainly not a household name. I encourage art patrons to learn more about her work!
AZ: Favorite brunch spot?
Ellie: Vinegar Hill House—the Bloody Mary’s are superb and their gourmet Egg Sandwich is worth writing home about.
AZ: Best way to beat the winter blues?
Ellie: I personally have no trouble cozying up with a great book on a dreary winter day. I strongly believe that a good read—I’m currently immersed in an English translation of Elena Ferrante’s Troubling Love—cures all!
AZ: Where do you usually go for your coffee run?
Ellie: Ground Support in Soho makes a matcha latte that gets me through even the most trying days.
AZ: Favorite destination to see art?
Ellie: I recently had the opportunity to visit Inhotim in Brumadinho Brazil, an incredible botanical garden and arts institution which exhibits large-scale installations by international contemporary artists. The quality of the artwork is exceptional—featuring site-specific installations of artists like Ernesto Neto, Tunga, and Hélio Oiticica, among many others. The museum boasts dozens of brutalist outdoor pavilions that have been equipped as exhibition spaces, each tucked away amidst the lush landscape so that visitors are rather surprised to stumble upon an Olafur Eliasson kaleidoscope or Adriana Varejão azulejos in the foliage. The park’s location is rather remote, though well worth the commute.
AZ: What advice do you have for someone who wants to work in art PR?
Ellie: Particularly in NYC, where we are blessed with the opportunity to experience so many facets of the art world concentrated in one geographic sphere, I always suggest getting involved in any way possible. Whether participating in various neighborhood-wide openings each week, joining a donor program at your local museum, or perusing a number of public art initiatives across the city, participating in these types of community-oriented art activities have proven quite valuable in the industry. Further, it is through these kinds of activities that one becomes exposed to the exceptional talent the City fosters.
It is also critical to be an avid reader. There is a wealth of information to be gleaned from following various arts and culture publications, and perhaps more importantly, from really listening to the voices of today’s writers, critics, and scholars.
AZ: What qualities are you looking for in a new hire?
Ellie: Strong written and verbal communication skills are a given, but there are more nuanced qualities like confidence, poise, and a hunger to keep learning that I believe are just as valuable. Further, it is an industry where time management and organization are key, so self-discipline is another element that makes for a strong publicist. Paired with a polished professional demeanor, these qualities prove hugely marketable.
In my opinion, passion is perhaps the most valuable resource in this industry. If you are enthusiastic about your initiatives and eager to be an active learner along with your audience, that energy proves contagious! It also goes without saying that having strong professional instincts and a sense of decorum is essential to effective communication.
AZ: Are you hiring?
Ellie: We are not actively hiring at this time, though we are always enthusiastic to speak with aspirational young arts professionals through informational interviews.
AZ: How can we follow you?
Do you work in the arts? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Additional reporting: Katita Miller