Most people going into an art career do not anticipate making much money. For many artists, a “regular job” pays the bills while their artistic endeavors become a sideline. Although this is true for many artists, it does not automatically have to be true for every artist and for every person in the art field. Other factors come into play according to David Zwirner, a contemporary art dealer.
One factor that has expanded the potential of the art world is the Internet. Zwirner explains what he is seeing (Caroline Winter, “The Interview Issue” Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/12/13–8/25/13, p. 71):
“The Internet is doing something to the consciousness of artists. It changes the way they interact with the world. I’m starting to see work where there’s something radically new in the way images are produced. Some of it’s in film and video, some of it’s in photography, some of it’s in sculpture. But we’re on the cusp of something.”
Another important factor is that people who purchase significant art works usually have a strong emotional attachment to them. Whether we like to admit it or not, our money often follows our emotions. Zwirner sees this dynamic as a positive attribute of the art industry:
“The art market is not just the trade of goods, it’s a lifestyle. People will sell their stocks and their bonds, because it’s just money. Their paintings, their relationships in the art world, are much more than that.”
I think Zwirner has valid points. These are points I had not always considered. Nevertheless, I still believe that if someone passionately desires a lucrative career in the art world, he or she must do the homework. That means lots of research, making connections, attaining prerequisite training and education, and being in the right place at the right time. If a person wants that type of career, and he or she is willing to make the effort, then I say, go for it. You will get no argument from Zwirner:
“As I’m maturing in the art world, I find it’s a fantastic place for any young person. It’s very stimulating. There are many different career paths. And you can make money.”