The artists with whom we have spoken typically refer to three types of resources that have helped them: human resources, online career resources, and sites that offer inspiration and opportunities for personal development.
Human Resources for Artists
In some cases, fine artists are represented by other people or organizations who help them sell their work. While there are plenty of tools available to help you sell your work independently through the internet (as discussed in some detail in the previous lesson), you may someday wish to garner additional human help (and in rare cases, you may be approached by a gallery or individual who would like to represent you). This will especially be the case if you have good references, past show experience, a significant number of pieces to sell, and a history of selling pieces at relatively high prices.
Applied artists are far less likely to need or want representation.
The primary sources of representation for artists are agents (who sometimes call themselves private dealers, curators, and representatives) and galleries.
Artist Agents / Private Dealers
An agent or private dealer will help you sell original artwork. Typically, artists work with agents who specialize in their type of work (e.g. oil paintings, portrait photography, etc.).
The benefits of working with an agent include:
- More coverage
- More connections within the industry
- Help selling your work to interested buyers
- The ability to leverage the experience of a specialist
Working with an agent does, however, have its drawbacks:
- Time (working with an agent on promoting your work can be a major time suck)
- Cost (should an agent have up-front costs, consider avoiding him or her entirely)
Even if an agent has a great reputation, limit your contract to a duration of under 12 months; this gives you an easy out if you're not a good fit or if this agent does not produce concrete results.
In addition to working with an agent, you may consider having a gallery represent you as an artist.
The upsides of doing so include:
- Opportunities to showcase your work in a physical space (this makes a big difference when it comes to the sale of original pieces)
The downsides include:
- A limited footprint (unlike agents / private dealers, galleries may be less prone to shop your work around to buyers across a wide geographic area)
- A possible cost associated with exhibiting work (we recommend avoiding galleries who charge up front)
If you're just getting started, consider working with a local gallery, as a local art market is going to be far less competitive, and even if you do not have a reputation, individuals at a local gallery may be interested in buying locally-produced art. Avoid exclusive contracts whenever possible.
Vetting an Agent or Gallery
In most cases, you will do completely fine without representation. Given the number of online resources at your disposal, you are more equipped to build your brand and following independently than ever before. That said, if you are interested in working with a gallery or private dealers, be sure to:
- Review its/his/her qualifications
- Research its/his/her sales history
- Ensure that this gallery/agent sells art created by artists similar to yourself
- Ensure that this gallery/agent sells art by other artists that is similar to that which you create
- Ensure that this gallery/agent sells art at prices close to those you have charged or intend to charge
- Have conversations with other artists the gallery or agent has represented
Just as you vet agents and galleries, galleries and agents will be vetting you. Be sure to speak intelligently about your work, provide information about your sales history and prices, give detailed descriptions about your clients and target market, and elaborate on the unique value your work provides. Don't sign contracts with agents or galleries with whom you do not get along well. Should an agent or gallery not express interest in working with you after an exchange, ask for feedback to get a better idea of what you need to do to make yourself more attractive as a professional artist.
Online Career Resources for Artists
Designed for design students and young creatives, The Secret Handshake is a repository of insider advice intended to help newcomers get a foothold in the field. It features:
- Quotes from professionals in the design field
- Advice on resumes, the application process, and portfolios
- A simple search function
- Information about occasional offline events
The Art Career Project
The Art Career Project is a great resource for those seeking to learn the basics about a specific artistic career path and explore different opportunities. It features:
- Detailed information about different artist careers (a wide variety of careers are covered, from tattoo artists and muralists to automobile designers and cartoonists); written descriptions are accompanied by listings of related artistic pursuits, common types of jobs, common earnings levels, and required education
- A search tool for finding nearby art schools (it feels a bit like an online degree program ad, but... may be useful if you're in the market for that kind of thing) that enables you to filter by program and zip code
- Interviews with professoinal artists in which they speak candidly about their careers
Sites that Provide Inspiration and Education
- Booooooom: A seemingly-endless feed of fascinating and inspiring art and photography
- It's Nice That: A regularly-updated collection of original and engaging work from a wide variety of creative disciplines
- Design Week: News, commentary, analysis, and inspiraiton realted to the design industry (as well as information about important job openings, events, competitions, and contests)
- Creative Review: News and commentary related to design, advertising, and visual culture
- Behance's Curated Galleries: Photography Served, and Branding Served come particularly highly recommended
- Designspiration: A simple visual feed of inspiring design
- Pinterest: Depending on your artistic focus, you may garner extra value by perusing pins within its Architecture, Art, Design, Home Decor, Illustrations & Posters, Photography, Products, and Tattoos categories
- Facebook pages and other designers' profiles: A great artist might provide curation of art and inspiration on his or her facebook page that matches the caliber of that offered by a formal blog
- Online portfolios: Most artists bookmark a handful of favorite artists' portfolios to occasionally visit for inspiration
- LinkedIn discussions: One can gain a great deal of insight and inspiratino through discussions that take place within pursuit-specific LinkedIn groups
- Schoolism: Offers self-taught and critiqued online courses (plus live classes and interviews with successful professional artists) on everything from character design to advanced lighting
- Coursera: An excellent option for free courses, you can use Coursera to take courses that give you a better overall understanding of different niches of the art world as well as art history (just look for courses tagged within the Arts category)
- Codecademy: Coding skills can give you an excellent competitive edge as an artist; Codecademy is a great (and free) place to start
- Udemy: Though not focused on the arts, various a la carte courses on design and photography / art are available through the site, and are often taught by successful professionals who can provide valuable, practival insights
- Codrops: Particularly great for web design; very technical
- Site Inspire: A great place to find general web design inspiration
- Web Creme: Simple visual web design inspiration
Great Websites for Concept Artists
- Concept Art World: Features artists, studios, books, news, training, and inspiration related to the concept art industry
- ConceptArt.org: An active forum for concept artists
Great Websites for Digital Painters and 3D Artists
- 3D Artist: A resource for those working in (or hoping to enter) the CGI industry complete with image galleries, tutorials, news, and features
- Renderosity: A community and marketplace oriented around digital products and 3D models
- CG Society / The Society of Digital Artists: Offers workshops, on-demand training, forums, and wikis related to digital arts, as well as the option to create a portolio on the site and browse others' work
- ImagineFX: Galleries, tutorials, forums and job listings oriented around digital art sci-fi and fantasy art twist
Our goal is to never charge for the educational materials we provide. If you’d like to give back, please share our lessons (and Gigaverse in general) with your friends. Who knows- you might introduce someone to an entirely new career path and change their life!
Only take this lesson’s quiz if you are enrolled in the course and want to prove your skills and earn official credentials. Credentials related to a course are useful if you would like to find work related to this course’s career, as we direct businesses and entrepreneurs to our membership page when they approach us looking for specialists.
Finally, make sure you have reviewed this lesson’s required reading (displayed at the top right of the page) before taking the quiz- you will be tested on information covered in those guides!