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Art Terms: What is an Emerging Artist?

man painting pictures
Photo by Ari He on Unsplash

At Embrace Gallery, we like to give you information to help you understand the art world so you will be comfortable buying art for your home, workplace and as gifts.

Today we will consider the career stages of an artist. I’m sure you have heard the terms describing where an artist is in his or her career: emerging, mid-career, or established artist. The progression of an artist’s career is much more important to the artist than the art collector, but it is good to know how to think about these terms no matter your role.

One would think the term “emerging artist” refers to young artists just out of their MFA programs and “mid-career artist” to ones who have developed their talents to a certain level. But there are many older artists who are just beginning to achieve a basic level of skill, and many unique and talented artists who never get much attention from galleries and art publications because they spend all of their time creating. What level an artist has attained in terms of his or her career has more to do with marketing, business savvy and development of a unique or signature style.

There is no agreed-upon definition for the stages, but the following themes come out over and over in the literature:

Emerging artists have been busy practicing, experimenting with styles, various media, and subjects. They are starting to hit their groove and define their own particular style or brand. They are getting out into the community, sharing their work, entering juried shows, networking with gallery owners and managers and getting some recognition. They are beginning to understand what it takes to get their names out there, and are committing time to the business side of their studios.

Mid-career artists are producing enough work for several shows each year. Their styles are continuing to emerge as they grow as artists, but their work is recognizable. They have good fan bases. Mid-career artists have gallery representation, work hard to keep their names out there, and know their value. They often sell prints along with original artwork.

Established artists have a style that other artists emulate. They often have studio assistants, and employees running their business. They are making a good living from their art that commands top dollar and is increasing in value. 

We hope you are enjoying this little bit of art education that we provide. Take some time and look through our gallery. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. If you are local to the Aiken, SC area we would be glad to arrange a studio visit with our Aiken artists. If there is an art topic you would like us to cover, please let us know in the comments.

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