There is a saying — the most common money-related mistake artists make is a reluctance to invest in their careers — and it is not too far from the truth. As artists, we are often driven by emotion instead of logic; and that may impact our judgment and certain decisions that may affect our careers in the long run. This is why we have created this article — to introduce you to the idea of art agents, help you learn why they, along with a well-chosen online space, are good for your career, and what things to look for when choosing either an agent or a website!
In general, an “artist agent” is similar to an “art dealer” or “art gallery,” with the exception that someone calling oneself an agent may do business privately or from a temporary site. However, these individuals usually identify themselves as private dealers or art advisors rather than agents. A gallery or dealer effectively serves as an agency for the artists they represent, to put it another way. The gallery acts as an agency, and that is how artists typically gain exposure: by exhibiting their work in galleries.
For example, literary agents and music agents exist in various sectors of the arts, but there are significant distinctions between the art world and the writing and music industries. To begin with, literary and music agents serve as liaisons between authors and publishers or recording corporations, rather than as retail book or music purchasers. They essentially sell publication rights rather than actual books. Individual retail purchasers are dealt with directly by art galleries and others that sell art.
Another difference is that a book or an album can sell between thousands and millions of copies, while art pieces are generally sold piece-by-piece. In other words, these fields provide far more chances for making significant revenue through sales than art. Furthermore, representing a musician or writer necessitates working with companies, contract and agreement discussions, calculating cash advances, determining payment schedules and royalties, among other things. In the art world, the business is conducted differently.
An artist’s main gallery usually handles the business side of things in the art world though managers and agents (or their counterparts) do exist. A few more successful musicians can afford to engage managers, agents, or consultants to advise, represent, or run their commercial affairs regularly. These artists are established and well-known, earn a lot of money from art sales, and have multiple galleries selling their work (both nationally and internationally). However, they lack the time, skills, and abilities to manage the constant demands on their careers, handle their publicity, respond to ongoing requests for their time or attention, manage their finances, and deal with the loathsome.
The vast majority of artists have relatively modest careers, do not earn significant sums of money, and only have occasional gallery exhibits — if any at all. A single dealer or gallery is frequently sufficient to handle the commercial activities of these artists. In reality, most dealers and galleries operate as unofficial agents for the artists they show or represent, providing guidance, assisting with planning future shows, and doing tasks such as marketing their work and arranging for it to be displayed in other locations. Many artists who build successful long-term connections with galleries or dealers eventually draft agreements allowing them to function as solo agents or representatives on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
You may want an agent to assist in selling your art if you are an emerging artist or don’t have dealer or gallery representation. Still, at this point, you don’t make enough revenue and sales to interest anybody in actively managing your commercial affairs. Less successful artists must do everything they can on their own to get their work out into the public eye, become active on social media, build a following, and make whatever sales they can. You’ll attract dealers, galleries, and other professionals to help you grow in your career once you start selling consistently. Still, you’ll have to go it alone until you’ve proven that you can not only generate income for yourself now but also for your future.
Making art is, unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of what it takes to be an artist. The daily realities of being a creative professional include networking to acquire clients, promoting your works, and tracking down money. If you’ve realized you can’t do it all on your own, or if you feel like your art career has reached a stalemate and could use some professional muscle, you might consider hiring an art agent.
It is a good idea to have someone act as a consultant — someone with a different business perspective in the world of art. That is why art agents are essential, and sometimes vital, to emerging artists.
To be more precise, there are two distinct reasons why one may need an art agent. First is the mere fact that art agents are well-versed in the business side of the art world, helping you distinguish between good and bad offers, provide advice on marketing, and more. The second one is that, between the artist and the client, an art agent can serve as a “middle man,” ensuring that everything goes smoothly and that your judgment is entirely objective when conducting business.
Your agent may perform various tasks as your representative in the market. These tasks include providing art business advice, establishing contacts for you with potential clients, explaining contract language and negotiating contract terms, advising selling the rights to your work, and assisting you in finding new opportunities.
Unfortunately, artists devote too little time to mastering basic art business skills, and as a result, they frequently make costly mistakes. Many art schools produce graduates who know how to create art but have little or no clue what to do with it once completed and ready to leave their studios. The art studio and the art world are vastly different environments. Hopefully, more and more artists will gain business skills, whether through art school, reading articles, or engaging art consultants or specialists, especially when making tough or complex decisions concerning their art professions’ prospects. It’s worth thinking about your short and long-term art career goals and finding an art agent who can help you achieve them. Whether it’s selling individual works of art, scouting commission opportunities, securing licensing deals, getting featured in the media, scheduling event appearances, or something else beneficial to your art career.
Why Is Choosing The Right Website Important?
Well, first and foremost — if you build a website, that is the only space on the internet that will be fully in your control. You may utilize social media and art community sites — but those are tools made by others. If you do choose to make a website, it is a space where you and only you determine what to publish, when to post, how long it remains up, how to arrange it, when to modify it, where to place it, and when to take it down.
Along with that comes the fact that you can either personalize it yourself or find a professional to do it for you, ensuring it is entirely optimized for your target audience, which is quite important, especially if you are an emerging artist.
Controlling one’s marketing assets is one of the most compelling reasons for an artist to have a website. You don’t have direct control over the display of your work, who is advertising on your page, or the modifications that the third party can make to the design of your page if you rely entirely on third-party platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Etsy. By establishing your website, you can provide a one-stop-shop for customers to buy your art directly from you, bypassing the intermediary (a gallery, third-party service).
Additionally, a website is a fantastic way to maintain contact information, build a portfolio of your work, and sell your work without going through an intermediary. Having an internet presence will give your art business a better sense of professionalism. If you want to share your experiences regarding art agents or websites with your fellow artists; or learn from them — head over to ARTDEX. There, you will find a wide range of fellow talented artists, potential art agents, information on the business of art, and more!