The art market is a vast, complicated, and highly competitive industry. The list of materials and mediums with which art is made is never-ending as is the plethora of artistic philosophies and intent. With such a broad range of variables that all describe “art”, the inevitable result is that some artists are more recognized than others. Artists would have much more success traversing the market equipped with business savvy to differentiate themselves and could additionally prove invaluable assets to their local community.
A NAMTA (International Art Materials Trade Association) report from 2009 identified that there were 600,000 professional artists working in the United States. Also taken into consideration were recreational artists, art degree seeking college students and college students taking art classes. In total the number of active artists reached 4.4 million. The NAMTA report mentions a market growth rate of 4% per year and Artprice.com cites that there are four times as many art buyers now as there were during the market boom in the early 90’s. These resources can illustrate what most people anecdotally know to be true: that the art market is highly competitive and growing steadily.
Artists who have a basic understanding of branding, marketing and self-promotion tend to have more sustainable careers than those who do not. Additionally, The Arts have been shown to positively impact local community both qualitatively and economically. A three-year study by the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (NALAA) documented the economic importance of arts on local communities. The study surveyed almost 800 nonprofit arts organizations in 33 communities in 22 states. The NALAA report estimated that arts organizations generate:
-1.3 million jobs annually
-$25.2 billion in personal income
-$790 million in local government revenues
-$1.2 billion in state government revenues
-$3.4 billion in federal income tax revenues
Artists who are highly trained in their field also possessing an understanding of business can facilitate economic growth within their community. Lourdes University Dean, Dr. Ludwig explains:
“An artist with the understanding of how to create a start up venture also has the potential to create enriching communities surrounding what they do. This leads to enrichment of the larger surrounding community and a support system for the arts and those interested in them.”
- Dean C. Ludwig, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, College of Business and Leadership, Lourdes University
With all the specialized skills artists need to compete in the market today, it’s no wonder that many professional artists and hopefuls alike have difficulty sustaining a career. Atelier Dualis seeks to address the educational needs of visual artists today with a program that includes the full spectrum of requirements to be a successful visual artist. Apprentices complete a dual-focused program consisting of Fine Art combined with Business training. The art curriculum consists of aesthetic-bias free exercises in painting and drawing aimed at broadening apprentices’ value range and providing an understanding of basic light and form. The business program starts with an introduction to branding concepts and marketing so while the apprentice starts their introductory drawing exercises, they are encouraged to brainstorm their philosophies for future work (i.e. their unique brands). When apprentices have completed a handful of works, they have a beautiful, modern gallery space located in the heart of downtown Bethlehem in which to sell them. The remainder of the business curriculum includes the fundamentals needed to understand start up business. Apprentices are encouraged to take what they’ve learned about business and work as a team to organize events and openings to promote themselves and their work. The result at the end of the program is an artist who is highly trained in the visual arts capable of not only promoting themselves, but starting their own business as well.
The graduates of Atelier Dualis will have all the skills they need to communicate their personal aesthetic vision and understand how to be sustainable. By the same token, these same graduates will be equipped with knowledge to pay it forward and foster community through organizations and businesses of their own.