The work of a commercial artist can be divided into two major areas: the creation of artworks, such as paintings, illustrations, photographs and sculptures, for exhibition and sale to collectors or the general public; and the production of artworks commissioned by other businesses, such as paintings and murals for decorative purposes, original illustrations for books, photographs for billboards and for calendars, and initial drawings and models for product design.
A commercial artist may show flair for, and choose to concentrate on, a specific artistic medium such as painting, photography, illustration or multi-media, or they may become accomplished in a mixture of these genres. They may also demonstrate a preference for a particular style of illustration or painting, such as portraiture, landscape, abstract or fantasy, or they may produce a wide selection of artwork for different audiences.
Art and culture have long been seen as the key drivers of urban regeneration. However, once an area has been rejuvenated, property developers tend to start charging higher rent, which in turn leads to a lack of affordable studio space for emerging artists. Recent discussions have taken place between the arts community and the property development industry to address this problem.
The emergence of digital technology is having a significant effect on how individuals, and artists themselves, approach and view art. In some circles it is seen as a threat to the skills of traditional artists, photographers and sculptors as it becomes easier to create images and models using computer technology. Others, however, view the emergence of the technology as a boon that has helped to create new forms of art, such as net art, digital installations and virtual reality.
The current trend for buying locally is having a positive effect on what can be a very difficult career to establish successfully. Locally produced arts and crafts are becoming highly sought after, by local residents and businesses, ex-pats living abroad, and tourists. Independent arts and crafts galleries are often willing to help develop burgeoning local talent, and the persistent and astute artist can often use a particular regional style to establish a reputation in their area.
Commercial artists are employed to express a client or employer's ideas. A commercial artist may be a fashion or graphic designer, title artist, illustrator, cartoonist or animator. Tasks can include creating designs, illustrations, computer graphics, still or moving video art, charts, graphs and layouts that make products or ideas more appealing to the public. Professional training is necessary to work in this field, and a bachelor's degree is generally required for an entry-level job.
Various educational institutions offer training for potential commercial artists, including private design schools, colleges and universities. Most entry-level positions in this field require a bachelor's degree, but students can also find certificate, associate and postgraduate degree programs.
Most schools prefer program commercial art candidates who have earned a high school diploma or GED, although some private designs schools don't require this. Many programs seek students with previous coursework in art, such as classes or workshops in art theory, drawing, printmaking or painting. Some students may have to present a portfolio demonstrating their artistic abilities before entering a program.
The goal of commercial artist education programs is to furnish students with a solid background in graphic arts. Students learn to use various artistic tools to transform an employer's vision into reality. Coursework varies according to program, but usually consists of study in art history, drawing basics, color theory, commercial illustration, computer graphics and photography.
Most programs are a combination of classroom study and studio work, allowing students to gain hands-on experience using the latest mediums and techniques. Graduates should be prepared for entry-level positions as commercial artists, armed with a portfolio containing prime examples of their work.
As uncomfortable as it may be for an artist to leave the sanctity of the studio, nothing gets sold without interacting with writers who will bring attention to the art, the 500 or so well-to-do people who are interested in buying art, and the other artists who can give introductions to their art world connections.
Commercial galleries typically sell artists’ works at a commission. The typical commission that galleries take is somewhere between 40% and 50% of the sale of the work. This is determined by the contract. Whether you submit your work for sale by consignment or enter into an ongoing relationship with a gallery, the parameters should all be written down in a contract.
Many artists sell their work out of their studio by arranged visits oropen studios arranged with other artists. If you are represented by a gallery, that agreement may extend to “studio sales” or all sales of your work. If you do not have a formal relationship with a gallery, you obviously retain 100% of the sale.
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