Knowing the Key Players in the Art Business

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The art business “key players” are those people whose good opinion and advice will help you establish and advance your career as an artist. Knowing the role these various people play in the world of art, as well as their spheres of influence, can save you time when trying to determine who you should approach (and whose advice you should take to heart) about various exhibition, publicity, and general career advancement opportunities.

Professional Artists are the backbone of the art world! Collaborating with, and gathering advice from, other artists can be some of the most important career moves you can make as an emerging artist.

Curators are people often educated in art history and philosophy who are given creative control over the conceptual development and execution of exhibition. An Exhibition Co-ordinator will carry out the details of an exhibition as directed by the curator.

An Art Dealer is someone who has agreed to take on an artists work in their commercial gallery in exchange for a commission (usually 40-60%) at the sale of the work. The artists/dealer relationship is typically an ongoing one. Gallery Representatives are people to whom an artist gives exclusivity over the sale of their work in exchange for publicity and solo exhibitions. Gallery Assistants are frequently the first people a potential buyer will meet, and can inform a person’s first impressions f your work.

An Agent is similar to a dealer, but has no gallery. The agent will take on an artist’s work and seek out sales opportunities for a commission.

An Art Consultant is someone educated in art history, and understands the business and marketing aspects of a career in the arts. This person is typically paid to help artists and/or galleries better position themselves in the art world, either in their art itself, or through things such as their publicity materials, CV, and artists statements.

A Business Manager will take care of the logistics and administrative details of an artist’s career, such as documenting work, shipping, filling out and submitting forms, contacting galleries, etc. Most artists assume the role of business manager themselves.

A Publicist is paid to generate exposure for an artists work. These people will create publicity packages, write press releases, and generally provide a valuable connection to the media world.

Critics are people often trained in art history and philosophy who write about art. Their writings may range from observations on or inquiry into the broader social implications of art, to reviews on a particular show or artist.

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