Describing your favourite artist: Do labels matter?
In the art world, we like to divide artists into three categories - emerging, mid career and established. We also quarrel about these categories (and for good reason). The endless innovations of modern life have not only changed art, but also how we categorise, understand and value works. Nevertheless, nailing the difference between each ‘level’ of artist is still useful. Doing so, can help elucidate a work’s value, the artist himself and key you into the lingo.
The emerging artist is at the beginning of their career. They may still be in art school or recently graduated and have yet to create a large body of work or exhibit at many galleries. Generally their price point falls between $50-$5000.
The mid-career artist is further along in their career. They have exhibited not only locally, but also nationally or internationally. With a developed body of work, the mid-career artist has received some kind of recognition from the art world.
Established artists have hit icon status. They have exhibited extensively nationally or internationally in reputable institutions, been written about and entered the cultural discourse. At auction, their status is reaffirmed by consistently high bids.
As always, try not to fret over these distinctions. Not all artists slot easily into a tier, with some bypassing levels, changing status posthumously or defying trajectories. Plus, buying art solely based on this kind of categorisation will rarely be as rewarding as figuring out your own taste.