Rant 38: Striving for success

Rant 38: Striving for success Lori Sauer, It's My Business, 2010. Paper. 33cm x 28.5cm x 1cm. Credit: Lori Sauer

Are art students too focused on business and professional practice, to the detriment of experimentation? Will this year's crop of new graduates have ambitions of success that cannot be attained? Joyce Cronin looks at the expectations of artists

Increasingly the degree show is treated like an art fair, often by the tutors more than the students. 

Is it the ability to sell your work that makes you a successful artist? Should tutors really encourage the commoditisation of art?

Thousands of fine art graduates leave Higher Education each year. Some will not pursue any kind of artistic career, others will push on in an attempt to ‘make it’, before the harsh reality sets in: that even many well known artists still have a day job, and gallery representation is difficult to secure and often comes at a high price.

Art operates on many different levels – community art, public art, art therapy, art in education and so on; commercial and public exhibitions are not the only practices for a successful artist.

It depends on how success is measured, and what the individual artist determines success to be - and that is subjective.

Or is it? Are the artists who don’t become household names failures?

Why is art always so definitively measured in terms of success and failure, good and bad?

Whatever career path this year’s crop of artists choose to take, their art school will have produced a lot of other artists too, and increasingly, they are also learning professional development, networking, portfolio presentation, and commercial values.

Art has become a profession, but does being good at the business of art make good art?

Art school has stopped being a time of risk and experimentation – there are lectures, deadlines and interim shows - none of which leave the student time to be an artist, to develop a practice; that comes with time and experience.

Should the current prioritisation of professional skills in fine art teaching really be producing a generation of young artists who do not strive for success, but expect it?

Contributed by Joyce Cronin

Joyce Cronin is a gallery manager and freelance writer, project manager and fundraiser.

The views expressed in The Rant are those of Joyce Cronin and forum contributors and unless specifically stated are not those of Axisweb. See our terms and conditions


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