Artist Peter Bardazzi has exhibited in museums, galleries and art fairs around the world and his artworks are in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. With such an impressive art career resume, Fine Art at About.com invited him to discuss how to build an art career in today's competitive climate.
Q: Please explain the difference between the traditional and new modes of establishing a career as an artist.
A: "The art-world has changed radically but some elements have remained constant since the late 19th century but even those work differently now. The original principle participants are the same: the artist, the dealer, the critic, the buyer/collector, the museum and the public."
"But added to that today we have the internet, mobile visual communication and things like corporate buying, art fairs, and mythic personalities and "fandom." The biggest change has been the public and its culture, it has increased exponentially."
Q: What are your thoughts about today's art world?
A: "Museums and galleries are packed with the new audience. The internet is clearly responsible for this with its extraordinary visual capabilities which are now at the core of the art worlds communication's tools. Artists, galleries, museums all have websites and use social networking tools to get people to openings, to sell art, write reviews, post images etc. This is all commonplace now. But this new art world poses a problem for anyone who wants to enter a career in it with their eyes open."
Q: How does this new art world pose a problem for an emerging artist?
A: "First, art is so embedded in the global culture that it has lost its original meaning and at the same time has a big following. This makes it hard to set career goals when the world you are entering doesn't have a clear definition or direction. The last thing you want to do is chase the tail-end of a fad with your style."
"Second, there is a growing entertainment factor not unlike some aspects of Hollywood that one should know how to use or avoid properly. This is an unfortunate condition for some, but it exists. Your image of you and your art (not just your art) has to be interesting."
"Galleries want art that sells also and you will have to become part of that process at some level. The opening, the studio visit, the party, etc. You will be selling something that is either your art or something related to it, like a theory or a look."
"Third, there is no longer new art in the classic sense of the term and we are in a consumer society that can reduce art to a variety of consumer products quickly. Clearly in this world, if your art does not sell you will have a career problem, even if you have a supportive dealer."
Q: What has stayed the same in establishing a career as an artist?
A: "The goals are the same, such as get into good collections, with or without a dealer. Get into museum shows. Get reviewed. Get your work seen outside your studio. What has not changed is that at some point, someone says 'yes' to you in person, in your studio or says 'no.'"
Q: What has radically changed?
A: "What has changed is the system and how art is communicated and perceived culturally. But two things are absolute: You need a systematic optimism and the understanding that you can't do it alone to be successful. And there are also two things to think about or not think about."
"Contemporary art (artists) finds itself in a peculiar situation. It attacks culture from the inside and yet wants to be accepted by that same society. I think that art has to be subversive in order to challenge itself. This could be problematic at the start of a career. This is not like looking for a job as you are looking for time and space to move your visual ideas and get recognized for it."
"The second is that you have to have meaning in all of this for yourself (you have to feel good about yourself) because at some level this is an "art market" too. A market with strong psychological factors that fluctuate and that can affect your security as an artist. These are things to think about when entering into a career in the arts. It is not simple anymore, but it still could be fun and an adventure."