by Gabriella Mazza
Navigating the art world can be particularly challenging and overwhelming if you are first starting out. However, with the right knowledge and approach, you can make meaningful connections and establish a successful career. Here are ten steps to help emerging artists be successful in the art world.
Define Your Goals
Success means different things to different people. Before you venture into the muddy waters of the art world, you need to get clear on what your goals are. Do you dream of seeing your work displayed at MoMA, having a solo show at a high-end gallery, or is making a living entirely off your art what you truly desire?
Each path will require an action plan that is uniquely catered to your needs, including the type of work you create, your target audience, and your promotional strategy. By defining your goals and vision early on, you can focus your efforts on the areas that align with your aspirations.
Create a Cohesive Body of Work
A strong portfolio is essential for gaining recognition in the art world. Focus on creating a cohesive and consistent body of work that showcases your skills, style, and artistic vision.
This is especially important if your goal is to exhibit at galleries. Approach a gallery only after you have built a well-presented, consistent series of recent works, including fifteen to twenty pieces. Make sure to document your work well, and include high-quality images that show the details and texture of your art. Organize your portfolio in a way that is visually compelling, as if you were to tell a story. Be ready to talk about your work and answer questions about it.
Building relationships with curators, gallerists, and collectors is crucial for the longevity and success of your career. Attend art events, such as openings or fairs, join art organizations, or online art groups, and start engaging with like-minded creatives. Forming strong and lasting connections with other artists is equally vital. Many artists wear different hats throughout their careers.
They become curators, open galleries, or work for organizations that could offer precious opportunities for your career. Joining a collective, for example, is a great way to tap into your local art community. Many host monthly exhibitions and offer member-only resources, events, and perks.
Taking classes is another effective approach to meeting new artists while honing in on your skills at the same time. A strong community will provide valuable resources, breed meaningful collaborations, and support you through difficult times.
Build Your Resume
If you are an emerging artist with little experience, you will want to focus on building a strong resume. This will help you gain credibility with curators and collectors. Apply for any opportunity that aligns with your work and goals, including open calls, juried exhibitions, magazine publications, and residencies. Follow the submission guidelines carefully and be sure to provide all the requested materials. Be patient and persistent–it may take several submissions before your work is accepted.
To learn more about open calls that currently accept submissions and all upcoming opportunities, visit New York Art Competitions.
On the Advice blog: The Artist CV
Learn About the Art Market
Understanding the art market is essential for any artist looking to sell and exhibit their work. Begin by making a list of all the galleries, art venues, and curators in your area that align with your style and work with artists at the same career level. Mark their openings and all related events on your calendar and make sure to attend them.
Learn about the different types of art, artists, and movements that are currently popular in the market and see how you fit in. If possible, find a job in the art industry to uncover the inner workings of a gallery or art organization and understand how gallerists and curators select artists.
Getting feedback from other artists, curators, and gallerists is essential in developing your art and practice. Seek critiques and advice from others in the industry to improve your work and understand what is currently in demand. If you know artists in your area, consider exchanging studio visits.
Not only will you gain insight into your practice, but you will also strengthen connections with your peers. Another effective way to gain feedback is by applying for an artist residency. In addition to working side by side with other artists, some programs offer open studios and studio visits by curators and gallerists as well as featuring your work on the residency’s website and social media channels. If you live in a remote area with little access to physical resources and art professionals, there are countless online groups for you to explore.
As an artist, you are also your own brand. Learning how to market yourself effectively is key to building visibility and acquiring new collectors. Create a website that showcases your portfolio, resume, and artist statement, and make sure your material is always up to date.
Set up an online store or join one or multiple commercial platforms to sell your work. Establishing a strong social media presence is also essential and we recommend having accounts on multiple channels, such as Instagram and Facebook, so that you can easily connect with galleries, curators, and potential collectors.
Newsletters are another powerful marketing tool to promote your work and generate sales. Just remember to ask for permission before adding someone to your mailing list.
Our Advice blog has plenty of articles to get you started on How to Market Your Art.
Stay in the Loop
Stay informed about the latest trends, events, and happenings in the art world. Make it a point to read art-related publications regularly, whether online or offline. Follow art blogs and listen to podcasts hosted by major galleries and auction houses. Keep abreast of all upcoming opportunities, such as grants, fellowships, and open calls, by frequently visiting relevant websites and noting down application deadlines.
If you live in an art capital, download apps that help you track upcoming gallery openings and other art events. If you are located in a remote area, plan a trip to large art cities during fair seasons to establish new connections, strengthen old ones, and find out what is driving the market.
Agora Gallery’s monthly newsletter is packed with information on current and upcoming exhibitions, art news from around the world, and articles for artists and collectors
Finally, it’s important to remember that your art career is a long-haul journey. Building an extensive network of contacts, a solid body of work, and a strong resume takes time and patience. Take small steps toward your dream career every day, even if that means tweaking your bio or writing a post on Instagram.
Try not to get discouraged if you receive bad criticism or a rejection letter. Understand that there are many factors involved in the selection process and sometimes they have very little to do with the quality of your work. Keep creating consistently and pushing your work out there. There will always be bumps in the road, but as long as you stay the course, your efforts will pay off over time.
Looking to develop your artistic career and build a presence in New York City and worldwide? Submit your portfolio to begin.
Navigating the art world can be daunting for an emerging artist. However, if you follow our tips with perseverance and dedication, you will be able to lay a solid foundation for a successful career. Remember to keep growing your professional network, build a marketing plan, and seek new opportunities for exposure. The world is your oyster if you know how to shuck it.