How Do You Make Connections In The Art World?

How Do You Make Connections In The Art World
Detail from Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," one of the frescoes highlighted on the Sistine Chapel exhibit at Mall of America. (Wikimedia Commons) | Image source: thedialog.org

When entering the world of art, same as entering any other widely spread community, a person becomes linked with thousands of other creators through the work they create. Joining such an enormous circle of people can be overwhelming at times, but it’s always good to have other people who enjoy similar work close by. While not always immediately present, the sense of belonging is just one of the many perks of becoming a member of such a community.

While most have visited a museum or a gallery, it is rare for individuals to have their own gallery representation. Many American artists started small, creating pieces on their own time at their studios based in their homes, selling their art online or on the local fairs, to one day reaching gallery floors and exhibition halls. But no one started out in the famous Serpentine Galleries in London or Gagosian in New York City. As mentioned above, most artists were born with no readily available connections, but will, emotion, and burning passion for creation.

To put oneself out there and make connections, one should present themself as a professional artist. To separate artists from professionals depends on the time and effort an artist can put into their work and approach. Professionals are individuals whose primary income comes from art, while other artists are creators with day jobs that produce their livelihood. This doesn’t impede their ability to create; the only difference is that professional artists can deduct their expenses, as they count towards their primary source of finances. Artists not deemed professional are allowed to create and sell art but cannot deduct their expenses, therefore gaining a smaller profit from it.

Renowned creators who have become known as professionals can offer their artist services and provide high-quality projects or specified artworks for their clients. Gaining the title of a professional creates much greater commission traffic, ranging from specific work to concepts and ideas, usually sought out to be in the artist’s unique style.

The journey of discovering one’s artistic identity begins once a person understands the great diversity of any art form they chose. To state the obvious, art is not simple — to be more precise, it is one of the least defined things in existence. There is no accurate way to say if art is good or bad since it immediately qualifies as art if it comes from emotion. The only thing genuinely different is style, passion, and expression, all of which can’t be experienced single-handedly. Gain a much greater understanding of other artists and develop a much deeper connection with their art career.

Art Career

An art career is not a stroll in the park — it is more of a strenuous hike through unforgiving rocky hills and sheer cliffs. After the challenging journey, the artist is met with a great gift at the mountain summit: the understanding of their creative emotions and intentions. A true feeling of direction and capability is born from the heart of the person who partakes on such a difficult journey, and it allows them to harness their ability to their full potential. Career success doesn’t depend on the art as much as it falls onto the artist; as Michael Duchamp would say, the artist defines art. Any creation deemed to awaken emotion in the observer had achieved its goal as a piece of art.

As mentioned before, artists can be deemed as professionals. Art professionals are individuals who qualify for the title of an artist (at least in the United States). In order to become a professional artist to then make connections in the art world it is important to understand what it takes to do so. To qualify as a professional and be able to deduct expenses, according to the IRS, they need to fulfill nine criteria:

  • Do they conduct their art in a business-like manner?
  • Is there an intention to make the art activity profitable?
  • Does the individual depend on the income generated by their art?
  • Will there be business losses, or is it outside of the artist’s control?
  • Does the artist plan to improve productivity?
  • Is the artist capable enough to make a profit with their art?
  • Did the artist do similar activities in the past? Were they successful?
  • How much of a profit does the activity generate yearly?
  • Will the artist make a profit in the future?

Not all the answers need to be the expected positive outcome for the artist to be deemed qualified for deduction by the IRS. Therefore, artists labeled as “professional” fulfill the necessary criteria and are seen as such by the government. At the same time, seemingly complex art careers are neither rare nor unachievable. There are many professional artists, hobbyists, and others, creating content and earning a partial or even their whole livelihood off of it.

People at the opening of the Boston Printmakers gallery opening. Photo by Alex Melagrano | Image source: huntnewsnu.com

Community of Artists

Regardless of an artist’s career level professional or not, they are most likely welcome in the artist community. Assistance from other more experienced individuals can prove to be crucial in career service and many other aspects. Creating a good network of known associates is a great way to build up one’s possibilities and drastically increase their chances of receiving offers, commissions, and other valuable pieces of exposure and publicity. Increasing reach creates a great space to follow current trends and get tips for artists regardless of their experience.

Creating a social network presence pushes the envelope further, adding to the widespread net of influence and connections. Social media is probably the number one way to follow current art trends and any new ones as they appear. Some networks (such as ARTDEX) are specifically created to allow everyone, including any international artist, to discover a vast amount of new art and creators. Being a part of a global network will enable people to connect with creators much farther from the local scene, living in other countries or even different continents. Thanks to these networks, an artist’s reach has grown not only to their entire country but many other international groups and sources as well. The advantages of this are endless, starting from possible cooperation ideas, which create massive exposure and incredible travel experiences to mutual art appreciation or follower and connection sharing. These benefits can quickly bring up an artist and significantly increase their reputation and take off their career. With the primary use of artificial intelligence, most websites can tell an individual’s tastes and nudge them towards things they might enjoy. These algorithms help in the discovery of new works specific to the preferences of the person finding them.

Although simple at first glance, there is a whole science of networks involved when developing an online presence. A great list of tasks needs to be done and a significant feel for marketing to establish a successful network properly. Just joining one is the first step on the long journey of becoming a well-known individual in it. The most relevant factor is simply networking time. The amount of time spent building a network is directly proportional to the amount of following and connections a certain presence will achieve. The more time spent in the organization and growth of a network produces increased followers and better relationships with peer artists and fans alike. Also, the amount and type of information and content provided draw in different people, from followers to investors and talent spotters; the list is endless.

Art communities welcome anyone, from traditional visual artists to many other types of creators and reviewers. Following each other’s careers, many artists tend to be inspired by something and create their own versions to test their skill in converting one form of expression in their own unique way.

Joining channels of artists produces much closer interaction with like-minded people widening the amount of talent exchange occurring. Motivation and inspiration drawn from the works of others should never be taken lightly, as art only adds to the magnificence of the universe, gaping paths for the birth of new ideas and dawning new eras into life. Humanity was always led by art; life would imitate what art showed, following slowly behind in its shadow.

Websites and networks such as ARTDEX, are welcoming not just to artists and consumers, but they’re also an excellent way for gallery owners to find new talent that they might want to showcase at their exhibitions. Having their work cut out for them by the pieces presented in a virtual gallery, they can immediately scout what they like and what they like it with, creating combinations and themes just by scrolling through.

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