For some, the word emerging" might conjure the cracking of a shell, the splitting of a cocoon or even a late afternoon
caddis hatch. In the art world it is used to describe a lesser known artist, as opposed to an established" artist.
Were it not for art dealers, there might not be a need to make such a distinction. Artists after all, are artists, and
whether one is perceived as emerging or established doesn't necessarily mean their talent is greater.
Most artists agree that being represented by an art gallery gives them more credibility. Having representation implies
a certain professionalism and suggests that a knowledgeable person believes the artist is marketable. When a gallery
promotes an artist as emerging, they are inferring that he or she is someone to watch, and that buying that artist's
work is a good investment.
However, legitimate galleries cautiously (and legally) avoid making direct statements about the potential for a piece
of art increasing in value, since no one honestly can predict that.
Nevertheless, the distinction exists and depending who it is you ask, their definition may differ only slightly.
Gallery owner and artist Karyn Gabaldon says, An emerging artist is someone who is just beginning their career. An
established artist is someone who is already a full-time professional who makes their living off their arts."
In contrast to Gabaldon's perception, artist Connie Matthews-Imig thinks it has to do with the decision to work as an
artist full time, albeit the ultimate decision to do so is a difficult one to make.
The good news," she says, is that with hard work and persistence, you can start to get some recognition. It takes
time, and the belief that your work is valid and good, to persist through the down times."
Shanan Campbell Wells, art consultant and owner of Sorrel Sky Gallery suggests, An emerging artist is at the beginning
of their career ... an established artist will have a track record, award history, show history, and sales history to
support their current work in the marketplace."
Yet, Campbell-Wells further acknowledges that, discovering new talent and unveiling them to the market place is
exciting and gives (us) room to keep everything fresh and vibrant."
Durango Painter Mariah Kaminsky defined it succinctly when she said, The only difference is in the money. If you are
making a living with your art, you are established.
If you are working several jobs and art is what you are striving to do for a living, you are emerging. It's all about
how successfully your art has been marketed."
Local and nationally recognized artist Mary Ellen Long recalled her personal transition, The first time I realized I
was an (established) artist versus an emerging artist, was when I was represented by a gallery."
Many working artists in Durango agree that being called an emerging or established artist doesn't necessarily mean
one's talent is of a higher degree, nor does it imply success or failure; it is really more of a mindset.
To that end, internationally established painter Chuck Close once said, Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us
just show up and get to work." Isn't that what being a professional artist is all about?