What Does An Art Dealer Do?
An art dealer is a person who works in the art community to help people buy and sell art. Art dealers work with many different types of people, and often help connect artists with customers who want to buy their art.
Many art dealers get their start by working introductory jobs at art museums, auction houses and galleries. They may start out working in the office, answering phones or performing administrative tasks.
During this time, they learn all they can about art, including the different:
As they learn more about art, they also develop a network of people that they know in the art community. They meet people at:
- Gallery events
- Museum exhibits
- Trade shows
- Local art walks
- Pop-up exhibitions
Eventually they can move up in the organization where they work, or they can branch out to work independently, some open a gallery or auction house of their own.
Art dealers must be comfortable interacting with a wide variety of people, including:
- Museum curators
- Gallery owners
- Private collectors
- Art Critics
- Auction house managers
- Business owners
- General public
- Art professors
- Art students
- Other art dealers
This means they must be able to effectively communicate with all different types of people, including those who may be extremely wealthy or famous. They must also work with people on the business side of things, including lawyers and accountants. Art dealers must also work with artists and collectors who may have very creative, strong, and unique personalities.
Art dealers can work for an artist, helping the artist find buyers for their art. They can also work for an art collector, helping them find specific pieces of art to buy and add to their collection. Or they can work for a gallery, museum or auction house, and work with the many different collectors and artists that frequent the business.
Some art dealers choose to specialize in a certain style, era, or medium of art, or they concentrate on a single artist or small group of artists. Others work for a small number of high end collectors. While others keep their work open to a variety of clients and styles.
Art dealers must work to continuously learn more about their profession, from the history of art, to new techniques that are being explored, to emerging new artists. They are always developing their knowledge and eye for quality artistic pieces. They must also stay ahead of trends in the market.
Part of an art dealer’s job is to be aware of new artists that are gaining popularity in the art world. They can either reach out to the new artist and offer to represent their work, or they can contact them on behalf of a collector and try to make a deal.
When an art dealer represents an art collector or buyer, it is their job to learn about the individual’s budget, personal style, and preferences, in order to locate art that would be a desirable addition to their collection.
Art dealers use their combined knowledge and experience to identify the value of a piece of art. The price of art is determined by the quality, rarity, supply and demand, and emotional value. They use this information to best represent their clients when negotiating the sale of a single piece, or collection, of art.
Art dealers can also work for commercial clients, such as healthcare facilities, businesses or hotels. These types of clients are usually looking to buy art in large packages to decorate a business space. The packages they purchase can be made up of original pieces, prints or a combination of the two.
Art dealers make most of their money by earning commissions from the sale of artwork. In order to maximize their earnings, they often work to find a good deal, and then sell the piece for a profit.
Art dealers who work for a buyer or collector often spend time traveling to find a perfect piece of art. They can travel to visit other galleries or museums that may be selling part of a collection, or they can travel to lesser known places like flea markets or estate sales looking for art that’s true value or worth may not be recognized.
Successful art dealers enjoy working with many types of people, and connecting buyers with artists. They have a natural eye for artistic talent, and enjoy being part of the art community. Art dealers must enjoy learning about their clients, and using that information to search for the perfect buyer, seller, or piece of art.
Art dealers must also enjoy the art of business negotiating. In today’s market, art dealers must be comfortable using computers to communicate with clients, search digital catalogs for art, and use social media to make connections.