The art world has been analysed from many different points-of-view – historical, aesthetic, economic, cultural, and political – but the social and personal aspects and, especially the factors that motivate artists to make art have been overlooked in contemporary academic studies. Given the increased prominence that visual artists, curators, galleries, and even gallery directors have achieved in recent years, this is
surprising. Apart from the widespread public attention given to artists, we must also now recognise the increasing competition and complexity involved in becoming an artist. In addition to the need for talent and the requisite skills, artists also must know how best to market their work, how to display their work to its greatest advantage, how to network and build contacts in established art worlds and markets, and how to develop business acumen, in order to achieve any degree of professional success. This
research study investigates motives common to many visual artists and not only examines the strategies they adopt to develop their careers but also looks at the outcomes, while at the same time reflecting on the complexities of being a visual artist today. A range of practice-based case studies, combined with interviews conducted
with recently graduated and established artists based in UK and the USA are analysed with reference to the pre-existing research literature, with the intention of offering a
comprehensive picture of how the contemporary visual artist’s practice emerges, and why artists become artists.
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