Nobody likes to be labeled, right? Especially not artists who tend to be contrary, rebellious types. However, artist “categories” are bandied about by artists, gallerists, jurors, and critics and most of the people using these terms seem to be clueless, when questioned about what they actually mean.
Applications for exhibitions include titles like “Emerging Artist Exhibition,” while some contemporary gallery websites report that they only exhibit “mid-career” and “established” artists. What exactly do these categories mean and how do you place yourself within them, when necessary?
First of all, the most common mistake is for artists to label themselves “mid-career” based on age. In actuality, an artist who is middle-aged or older has no more claim to this label than a 23-year old MFA graduate. Similarly, young artists are labeled as “emerging” artists, but, depending on experience and career, this is not necessarily the case. I am consistently surprised at artists and art professionals who don’t understand this. Here are a few definitions to clear up some of the misconceptions.
Disclaimer for you sensitive folks: Of course, as with any type of label or category, there is confusion and overlap, but the goal in this post is to clear up downright misinformation. When possible, BmoreArt suggests avoiding labels all together, but, just like saturated fat and lines at the dmv, sometimes labels must be endured, so let’s aim to do it as factually as possible.