From the outside, the art industry seems like it’s small with the central focus on being a gallery-represented artist.
The myth goes something like this:
Once upon a time, we all train to get to the castle in the clouds – that is, the art world — and to be represented by a gallery – preferably a blue-chip. From where we stand, the castle is within sight and it seems like it’s perfectly within reach and reasonable to get there. Just like any story, we – the main character – set out on our hero’s journey (we get that degree); we meet a few people (our classmates); we do a few things (hone in on our practice, get PTSD from crits); we kill the villain (spoiler alert, it’s ourselves) and then we live happily ever within the safe walls of the castle. The End.
This just isn’t true. It’s more like, ‘Good luck, you’re on your own. You’ll figure it out.’ And no one, neither institution nor educators, will tell you this. There is no map to identify the overlaps, the relationships, the breakdowns or why things are the way they are. And nothing is ever straight forward.
In order to establish these connections, I pursued a PhD to research the breakdown between the artist and the art world; to illuminate the gaps; and to built the map (quite literally) for artists to know their value and what is expected of them. During this research, I learned that artists and the art industry are in fact a symbiotic relationship, yet there are significant misrecognition between artists and the art world. The concept was so strong that my dissertation Art World Hegemony and Access: Competing Perspectives on the Value of The Creative Class was awarded with no corrections, and my pursuit continued into the development of this platform: To Practise_Practice, a web-based, personalised discovery platform that provides early-career artists the toolkits they’ve been searching for to navigate the art world.
Without this information, it’s impossible to ask for artists to know what’s the value they have and more importantly, what they need to bring to the table. We’re here to level the playing field.
Dr. Erika Wong, BFA, MA, PhD
Experience the research first hand
Available at the British Library. Read the executive summary here, exclusive to TP/P readers.
The Art World exhibits properties of organisational exclusivity that is not captured by extant studies. In utilising Bourdieu’s theoretical position and methodological toolbox of field, habitus and capital this study engages in the competing perspectives on the value of the Creative Class within the current Art World structure. In addition to the application of Bourdieusian field theory, a new, non-hierarchical ideal-type typology was created in this work. This was done with the intention of separating the Creative Class from the consumers of their works and to examine the needs of and opportunities for creative producers. In doing so, this classification underpinned the extent of competing perspectives on the value of their habitus and capital.