An interview with Marine Costello

Marine Costello

We sat down with Marine Costello, Communications Officer at Parker Harris. Communications, Social Media and PR expert for the Art World.

“Growing up, I wanted to be a detective or a cowgirl. So… I definitely didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up! However, I was always fascinated by paintings and progressively became more and more certain I wanted to work in the visual arts sector. 

Today, I am passionate about helping artists and art institutions share their work through the press and social media. For the past 4 years, I’ve done communications consulting for non-profits and artists, shared creatives’ work online to my 150,000 followers with millions of impressions each year, and have handled the press and marketing of some of the UK’s biggest art projects. 

I studied art history in Paris, at the Ecole du Louvre – which, as its name indicates, is located in the Louvre palace. Not a bad place to learn about art! I also took cultural management classes in business school, volunteered as Vice-President of the student consultancy Ecole du Louvre Junior Conseil, and interned in museums, art galleries and publications. 

I have been sharing my passion for art to an audience of 150,000 followers on Art Featured and History of Art Daily for 4 years now – and I have recently joined Parker Harris, one of the UK’s leading visual arts consultancies, where I handle the press and marketing of art competitions, exhibitions and projects.”

Breaking into the art industry

“The art industry is a notoriously tough industry to break into. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! The advice I would give women who want to start a career in the visual arts is to not listen to their “inner saboteur” or “impostor syndrome”. You can and you will make it – if you are your own biggest cheerleader! So, work hard, learn harder, and have faith in your abilities. 

My job entails a lot of different things: devising new communications strategies, handling social media, writing blog posts or press releases, getting breaking news out to the media… So every day is different! This means I am constantly challenging myself to learn about a fast-paced industry.

I am very grateful I grew up with two different cultures and languages – it gives me a different outlook and what you could call a “competitive advantage”. I often say I am “proudly French and loudly American”. I learned a lot through my education in France, but I also bring an American sense of marketing and efficiency to the mix.

People don’t set out for a career in the arts to get rich quick… they do it because they are passionate about their work I get to work with inspiring, creative, forward-thinking people – and that’s what makes the art world so great!”

Men Dominate the Media

“Although a record number of women work in the industry, men still dominate in the media, whether it be in the press or on digital channels. Only 30% of experts interviewed on French TV are female. That figure goes down to 20% in UK online news. And only 37% of press articles go to women in the US. 

I believe journalists, editors, communications and social media professionals need to make a conscious effort to not only employ but also give a platform to diverse voices. I strongly believe the demand for more representation is already there. I have personally noticed an increasing demand from my audience to see historic and contemporary works by female artists – and I make a conscious effort to include more women creatives. 

It’s worth noting that women have always taken an important role in the arts. But their inclusion on the pages of art history books and on the walls of museums has been far from proportional to their contribution to the sector. 

Art history owes a lot to women such as Artemisia Gentileschi, who was one of the great Caravagesque Italian painters, Rosa Bonheur, one of the best animal painters and sculptors of the 19th century, and Hilma af Klint, who was a pioneer of abstract art but was largely forgotten in favour of her male peers Mondrian and Kandisky. I could also name Sofonisba Anguissola, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, and so many more…!

The art sector owes women a lot – not only as creatives but also as curators and directors. In fact, The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum by the Hewitt sisters, and the Guggenheim by its director Hilla von Rebay.”

Proving yourself as a female

“Women make up the most part of consumers and employees in the arts sector. But, although they dominate the industry in numbers, they’re still a minority in leadership roles. More women than men apply for art schools, but once they enter the workforce, their numbers dwindle along the professional ladder. 

A recent Australian study found women in senior roles in the arts earned 38% less than their male colleagues who were occupying similar positions. Another survey from the American Alliance of Museums found that women, who hold 2/3 of the jobs in the art industry, were paid 82 cents for every dollar earned by their male colleagues. 

But the times are changing! Recent nominations of women in key arts roles include: 

Kaywin Feldman became the first woman to direct the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2018, Rebecca Salter was appointed first female president of the London Royal Academy of Arts in December 2019, Jenney Fazande is the first woman, and the first African American, to be named Director of Exhibits in the New Orleans WWII Museum as of February 2020.

In the arts sector, I have worked in a lot of female-led and female-dominated teams. So, although women might sometimes feel like they have to speak twice as loud or work twice as hard to be recognised… I am quite positive about an increasingly “female” future.”

The Future of the Art Industry

“The current context is showing us how much the art world still needs to adapt to the digital age. The health situation we are all facing has forced art fairs, galleries and museums to rethink the way they operate, and to find alternative digital spaces – through their social media platforms, websites, or through virtual exhibitions. 

For example, Art Basel has launched virtual viewing rooms, the Met Museum invites viewers to visit its galleries in 360° videos, and the Tate offers an online performance by artist Faustin Linyekula. 

Of course, the experience of admiring a work of art in a museum cannot be replaced. But, if they want to stay connected with their audiences, art institutions need to keep investing in digital tools, and making resources available online to complement their physical exhibitions.”

Leave a Reply

© 2022 SOCIALight Magazine
%d bloggers like this: