Marketing Tip: Stamp out the term “emerging artist”

Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery and Red Dot Blog in Scottsdale, AZ, is discouraging artists from using the term “emerging artist” in their marketing efforts.

“Think about what you are saying to a potential buyer if you label yourself as an emerging artist.”

  • “I don’t have much experience.”
  • “My talent is still developing.”
  • “My art isn’t as good as established artists.”

“It’s that last message that I find particularly troubling. Would you want an “emerging” brain surgeon to perform an operation on you? Would you want to take a trip on a flight with an “emerging” pilot? Why should an art buyer acquire artwork by an artist who isn’t a master of her craft?”

Magog by Stephen Hall, sumi ink on paper

I also never liked the term, “emerging artist.” When I first heard it, I thought it implied a “beginning” artist. It used to be that when people would ask what I did for a living I would reply, “I’m an artist.” However, without some context I would get a follow up question like, “Are you a novelist?” After all, the dictionary defines “artist” as a person who practices any of the various creative arts.

Then, I started defining myself as a painter—again, without context it would beg the question, “Do you paint exteriors or interiors?” For a while I would answer, “I paint pictures.” It tells the story clearly and simply, but lacks the highbrow elegance of “I’m an artist.” Now, I answer the question this way:

“I’m an artist of distinction that paints pictures for people of discernment.”

Then again, maybe I should just answer, “I’m an artist.”