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As professions go, an
art dealer is similar to any other human management or market management
geek, overstocked with tact, patience, guile, and, most important, a keen eye
for colors and art. Selling a painting is no longer sitting under a tree or on
the pavement waiting for a collector or buyer. It needs hard sell of both the
art and the artist.
So if you have a BA or MA or PhD in any art-related field, have good business or marketing skills, know languages, are people oriented with communication and writing skills, flooded with motivational abilities and sensitivity to artists' needs, and possess some experience at curatorial or gallery work, then think about this profession. Generally, art dealers begin as apprentices to an established dealer, where they learn how to strike a deal and how to keep the artist and the rich (and often cranky) customer happy. Besides these skills, one needs to be aware of different genres, the market value of old and upcoming artists, and current affairs and have contacts with other dealers and nose for new acquisitions and sales. Remuneration should not be an obstacle as it takes time to establish oneself, even with a PhD.
Once satisfied with the
selection of profession, concentrate on a specific genre such as expressionist,
contemporary, or pop art. Move around and be seen at parties, auctions, and
gallery openings to gain the trust and confidence of the artist and customer.
Many art dealers stepping out independently have safeguards in the form of
savings or loans to sustain them until they build a clientele. The reason being,
it is a volatile profession in an unstable market with long working hours.
There are downsides, like any other profession. A deal can go awry, or your persuasive skills may be unable to convince a potential customer to invest in a particular painting or artist. Here, instinct and perception help, and if you are unable to accept challenges, then change your profession. But if you are confident and have the ability to handle the situation then, it is all worth it.
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