Finding talented artists is integral to Artelier's role as international art consultants, who specialise in curating art for luxury hospitality, residential, yacht and aviation projects. As well as sourcing contemporary art by leading global artists, we also collaborate with artists to create custom art commissions tailored to the project. In this article, we offer an insight into what to look for in artists, creating a guide for spotting talent.
With the number of artists in the world ever increasing, and with the ease of online accessibility, we find ourselves in a world where artists are commonplace. Within this plethora of art, it is becoming harder to discover and distinguish the artists who have the makings of becoming a master and receiving critical acclaim.
It has never been so important to look beyond online searches, and instead delve deeper into grassroots arts communities. And in that process, ask searching questions that attempt to reveal the true substance of the art you are being presented with.
If a client is looking to commission an artwork or build a collection, there are certain criteria against which it is useful to assess an artist. With decades of experience in identifying promising and talented artists, Artelier has devised a unique set of considerations that we use internally when sourcing artists for a project and conducting research to expand our artist network.
1) Undiscovered Talent
Finding an artist who shows real promise and is producing exciting work is made even more appealing when they are largely under-the-radar. This means that their work is not being used by everyone else, so they can give something fresh to your project. They are also more inclined to charge fairly for their work, rather than adding a premium purely based on their name and reputation. The client therefore receives art that presents new and inspiring ideas for an excellent price.
2) Emerging Career
An emerging career artist – be they a young recent graduate or have become an artist later in life – can offer an excellent investment. Their work is often sold for entry-level prices but can have the potential for a significant increase in value. Beyond the possibility of profitable returns, however, emerging artists approach their work differently. They often show radical innovation with their ideas and use of materials and can offer a novel response to a brief. When looking for an emerging artist, consider their projected career path based on past growth and potential.
The originality of ideas is the hallmark of a great artist’s mind. While looking for inspiration externally and responding to others’ work is an important element of the creative process, simply copying others’ ideas will trap an artist’s work into being overly derivative. Artists who demonstrate original thought not only use their materials in interesting ways but explore novel concepts and subtle themes. A broad understanding of the art market allows art consultants to spot originality more easily; by filtering through the work of hundreds of artists each week, artists who go beyond what others are doing stand out.
4) Quality of Ideas
Although an idea may be original, it also needs to be evolved from of a quality of research and line of artistic or conceptual enquiry. When an artist eloquent in demonstrating a richness, depth and subtlety to their ideas, the artworks are distinctly more sophisticated and thought-provoking. An interesting idea has nuances that can be explored in multiple artworks, developing into a lasting line of enquiry that continues to be exciting for viewers across the course of the artist’s career.
An innovative and intuitive use of materials sets an artist apart. Often, unassuming and ordinary materials and objects can be transformed into the extraordinary through the artist's vision and technical skill. Having an experimental, playful intuition, combined with a deep focus on materiality can often lead to powerfully engaging outcomes. This demonstrates the artist’s pioneering attitude, and willingness to go against the grain of how others use or consider certain materials.
6) Skill and ability
A high level of skill and ability is the product of extensive practice and natural talent. As a master of an unusual technique, the artist develops a visual language that isn’t commonly found elsewhere and cannot be easily replicated. Developing new techniques requires great skill in the material, which is the product of years’ worth of experience and a highly developed understanding of their medium. To assess whether an artist’s skill is remarkable, it’s important to consider whether the same effect can be easily replicated.
7) Integrity & Commitment
Often, an artist who has dedicated their life to their practice and have always pursued this career path has a greater integrity in their approach to their work. They are driven to pursue their art form regardless of whether it is commercially advantageous or not – they create work that does not follow current art trends and are not opportunistic in their motivation. Through their ceaseless pursuit of ideas, they demonstrate a high level of commitment and integrity, as well as often displaying fairness in how they price their work.
8) Training & Experience
Examining the training and experience of an artist can often indicate the quality of their work. Being taught by prestigious academics or experienced practitioners leads artists to have a greater ability for analysis and developing ideas. Formal training through a fine art education is often highly effective in teaching these skills. However, an artist can also gain these skills from other sources, provided they are sincerely committed to learning from masters. Being self-taught is not enough; if an artist has not gained formal training, they should endeavour to work under leading artists as an apprentice or gain other experience working with creatives in order to hone their practice.
9) Longevity & Evolution
If an artist is following a current fad, then their work will inevitably lack longevity once art trends move on. Although creating art that taps into a popular aesthetic may be profitable in the short-term, if an artist is known only for this type of work then their career doesn’t show great promise for the future. Instead, look for artists whose work shows an evolution and a deeper line of enquiry – a sustained exploration of ideas, techniques, or styles, which show gradual development. This will indicate whether their practice will continue to evolve, and goes beyond current trends.
An artist who possesses a pioneering spirit and a willingness to experiment will often produce work that is more impressive and stimulating. Their keen approach to pushing boundaries shows that they are not afraid of the unknown, and indicates a greater potential to create something unexpected. They are happy to create work that is not “on-trend” in their pursuit of exploring different ideas, without concern for what is fashionable or commercial. If they create outstanding work, people will nonetheless be interested in it and it could enhance their reputation as a pioneer.
A consistent focus, be that in ideas or material, is often a sign of a sophisticated artistic practice. This could present as a continuous line of enquiry – the pursuit of particular concepts, subjects or interests across the artist’s oeuvre. Alternatively, if the artist follows a more process-led practice and is primarily inspired by exploring their materials and techniques, then they must demonstrate a mastery of their medium. This level of focus leads to consistent development in their work, which cannot be achieved if the artist is prone to deviating their ideas or materials from project to project.
While they have a clear focus, high-quality artists also go beyond making only one type of work repeatedly. The sign of an exceptionally creative individual is the ability to evolve and respond to shifting contexts. The work they produce across their career is guided by a particular focus, but shows development in both their chosen medium and as their ideas mature and expand. Being versatile in this way indicates that an artist is up to the challenge of responding to different opportunities or project requirements. A new context inspires them to create different work, rather than being trapped within their standard repertoire.
Naturally, no artist will meet every criterion in its full capacity – each artist has their own strengths, and unique approach to their practice. Without knowing the art market, it is challenging to source artists that meet even most of the criteria. Therefore, while Artelier's twelve considerations are a comprehensive guide to the qualities that indicate a great artist, further skill is required to weigh them up against an individual. Ultimately, the decision should be made through balancing the attributes of an artist and being clear on what is important for the project. An art consultant can help you navigate the market, discovering an artist who offers a superior quality of work and brings great value to the project.