Welcome to the black hole of art!
I used to run a small media arts agency but found it very frustrating to navigate the strange byways of today’s art world. Almost as frustrating as the artists I repped did. It’s not only an odd business—one that’s been called the last unregulated free market left—but there is a huge amount of misinformation out there. In particular, there is a massive industry of bloggers and self-help gurus attempting to persuade artists that there are 7 Steps to Success and 9 Ways to Get a Gallery. It’s a classic cacophany of supposed inside tips that sound like the same inside tips for every other small business out there: study what sells (cats! frogs! horses! landscapes!), devote 40% of your day to marketing, relentlessly self-promote on social media, offer special deals… you get the picture.
So in the end I got a job in a different industry—my new day job is in health care—and decided to turn my site into a resource where artists could educate themselves about the economic realities of art under capitalism. You could be a graphic designer or an installation artist—either way, I believe that only the blunt facts can dispel the mystique of 10 Things You Need to Know.
To be honest, it’s a discouraging picture regardless of whether you’re an artist just starting out or someone who’s already devoted most of a career to the field but hasn’t made it into art’s own 1%. From where I sit, the point is this: Become an artist or don’t, but if you’re determined to go for it, do it with your eyes open.
Please feel free to suggest readings, links, rants, points of light—bascially, anything you think we should be taking into account on this site—by email to: dv at daniel-visser.com.