What does it mean to be established?
Just like any classification, everything is relative. From considering someone an emerging artist to being a hobbyist or a professional, the boundaries have never been finer than in the arts world today. There are artists who, even though they are selling their work, they still call their activity a hobby. Many have other jobs as it is not easy to make a living from art. However, artists that managed to achieve that – through selling their art, teaching, organising workshops and licensing their art – they can confidently call themselves professionals.
How about being an established artist? The general definition is that an established artist is an artist who gained the critics’ acclaim, they exhibit regularly nationally and internationally, their art is present in top galleries and museums and they have their shows reviewed by national publications. Journalists write about them and they may even appear on TV. If we think about this description, we do know a few names that pop in our minds like Tracy Emin or David Hockney.
Local, national, international and online
There is another category of established artists that are not necessarily known outside their local area, but they are present in local groups and solo exhibitions, they are interviewed by local newspapers and magazines, they organise workshops in their area and they are quite happy with the notoriety within their town/county. Can we say they are established even though they are not recognized nationally and internationally?
On the other side of the coin, with the Internet today and the opportunity of having an online presence, many unknown/ emerging/ mid-career artists have started to be known not just locally but nationally and even internationally. Art collectors have access to artworks from all over the world while the opposite is also true. Are the emerging artists starting to move quicker towards the established status due to their online presence? What if some artists have sold to collectors from all over the world but they failed to impress the right establishments?
The bottom line is there will always be attempts of defining and classifying, even though many artists disagree with most of them. While critics battle over artists’ statuses, artists will continue to create and enjoy their journey despite or thanks to being or not being recognized locally, nationally or internationally. Some are happy to be known in their local community; some are more confident in selling online and representing themselves while others will continue calling their art just a hobby despite their success.