You may not have signed the latest self-portrait of an emerging artist that you purchased and hung on your gallery wall. You will, however, play an important role in getting that artwork on a collector’s wall in their house. Art dealers acquire and sell artwork, acting as middlemen between vendors and potential buyers of fine art. They facilitate art transactions and guarantee that all parties are happy. Success in the art world is the result of expertly blending the colors of business acumen with a thorough understanding of artistry, artwork, artists, and purchasers.
Similar Job Titles
- Gallery Director
- Gallery Manager
- Gallery Owner
- Antique Dealer
- Art Collector
- Art Buyer
- Art Connoisseur
- Art Enthusiast
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Art Dealers do?
An Art Dealer would typically need to:
- Buy and sell artwork, promote artists, and assist clients in finding goods that match their likes and meet their needs.
- Sell artwork through personal interaction, gallery exhibitions rented retail space, or stand at a fair or antique center, or from home.
- Sell artwork online using their website, an online auction site, or specific portals for commodities like antiques.
- Artwork is sourced through their network of new and known artists and their representatives, as well as through visits to auctions, auction houses, marketplaces, and trade fairs.
- After examining the history of each item, determine its prospective value. Choose and purchase pieces; perform modest restoration work as needed; and organize frames; generate and manage acquisitions catalogs, records, and archives
- Organize the packaging and shipment of artwork to the gallery or customers through post or courier, either domestically or internationally.
- Hire the installation equipment and supervise the installation at the gallery.
- Coordination with artists and curators to plan, organize, present, and promote exhibits, private viewings, and group shows.
- Create and expand client databases; notify prospective purchasers about new and existing acquisitions and exhibitions that are relevant to their interests.
- Negotiate buying and selling prices with artists and potential buyers on behalf of the artists or galleries.
- Ensure great customer service; investigate art trends and artists to provide consumers with knowledgeable recommendations on potential purchases.
- Keep records of purchases, sales, and inventories for accounting
- Ensure the seamless functioning of the gallery or auction house, including personnel management; adhere to and expand the gallery’s mandate
- Create and manage the gallery website; perform other promotional and public relations work; and perform administrative, budgeting, accounting, and financial chores.
- Provide art assessments for insurance claims or legal proceedings
- Stay current with the art market and industry trends
Standard Work Environment
Art dealers spend most of their time indoors, in art galleries, auction houses, or at art fairs. They may also work as independent traders. Art Dealers must be good negotiators and well-versed in the market for the art and artists they represent, which may be a challenging vocation. Working from home allows you to organize the buying and selling of artwork based on what artists have to offer and what clients order.
Traveling to different cities and countries to meet clients or visit museums, art galleries, exhibitions, art fairs, and auctions may be necessary on a regular basis. You may also come across unusual, original, and saleable artwork in the flea markets of the cities, towns, or countryside villages you visit, as well as in small stores nestled away in alleys.
While art dealers align their working hours and days with the opening schedules of their galleries, they do not always adhere to strict schedules. Some galleries are only open on certain days of the week, such as Saturdays. While standard business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you will almost certainly need to work longer hours to prepare for exhibition openings. You may also be required to attend nighttime and weekend activities such as art openings.
Finding a new job may appear difficult. Asking their network for referrals, contacting firms directly, using job search platforms, attending job fairs, leveraging social media, and inquiring at staffing agencies can all help art dealers improve their job hunt.
Art Dealers are generally employed by:
- Art Galleries
- Auction Houses
- Artist-Led Spaces
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and associations, such as the International Art Dealers Association
The International Art Dealers Association (IADA) is essential for Art Dealers who want to further their professional growth or interact with other professionals in their industry or trade.
Professional groups offer their members a variety of continuing education programs, networking opportunities, and mentorship services. Membership in one or more of these organizations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- Seeking simpler and more profitable ways to sell items from their collections
- Finding out how to finance the artwork they wish to add to their collection
- Finding new art and artists in areas other than where Art Dealers live
- Being prepared for and accepting a loss in the case of a poor choice when buying objects for collections
- Avoiding the tyranny of consensus led by the elites of the conventional art world whose preferences may be at variance with those of the new global audience of visually-fluent individuals
- Working with artists who sell some of their artwork for lower prices at their studios as a short-term way of earning money, resulting in reduced or no sales of their work at the gallery
- The loss of the novelty of artwork from the widespread sharing, which is possible due to the internet and social media, negatively impacts the monetary value and artistic worth of art
- The lack of transparency in pricing, coupled with the reluctance of some potential investors to ask for the price of an artwork, may drive them out of the market
Suggested Work Experience
Any academic program in which a future Art Dealer enrolls often requires supervised experience, such as an internship. Apprenticeships are another method to break into the industry, with hopefuls training under experienced dealers while studying for recognized certificates. Art Dealers benefit from extracurricular activities that complement academic lessons. One can learn a lot from more experienced professionals’ stories and gain valuable hands-on experience when they turn seemingly normal occurrences into unique learning opportunities.
Summer internships provide a taste of the career, provide significant insight into how an art gallery functions, assist in the development of useful relationships, and boost one’s chances of landing a permanent position. The career services department at your educational provider can provide information about suitable opportunities for work placements, internships, and volunteer work in a variety of areas. Although internships in galleries provide significant experience, bear in mind that they can be highly competitive. It would be beneficial to present your portfolio and highlight abilities such as languages, IT, and do-it-yourself.
After earning a degree in fine art, you can work as an artist to hone your artistic skills and gain an understanding of how art is sold and purchased.
Work as a gallery assistant or gallery associate, whether paid or voluntary, contributes to your experience and network. Most art dealers begin their careers by working part-time or full-time in entry-level positions or on short-term assignments in galleries, museums, or auction houses, where they learn from specialists in the field.
By browsing through neighborhood yard sales or visiting permanent exhibits or temporary exhibitions in local museums and galleries, you can gain aesthetic intelligence and abilities in recognizing artwork with potential for sale.
A bachelor’s degree in studio art, fine arts, art history, or a comparable discipline is often required for entry-level positions in auction houses or galleries. It is beneficial to take classes in art criticism, research methodology, and conservation. Art history courses often involve exploring numerous types of art from various historical periods and areas of the world.
You can train to become an expert in an artistic genre, such as tribal art, photography, or sketching portraits, to build your expertise. You might also concentrate on studying a specific art era, style, or artist. Your schooling provides you with the knowledge and abilities necessary to comprehend the artwork you will eventually purchase and sell. Internships are required in some programs.
Some aspiring art dealers may earn a master’s or Ph.D. in their chosen profession to expand their expertise and network. Prospective art dealers may benefit from business, marketing, and advertising courses.
It is important to remember that completion of a certain academic program does not ensure admittance into the profession. Professional qualifications and transferrable skills, on the other hand, may open more than one door.
Before enrolling in a specific program, do your homework and investigate all available possibilities for education and career. Associations and employers in your field are reliable sources that can help you make an informed selection.
Study art, art history, design, English, mathematics, computing, business, and languages in high school.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
An Art Dealer’s proficiency in a skill area is demonstrated through job experience, training, and passing an examination. Although not required, certifications can assist Art Dealers in increasing their earning potential.
Depending on the dealer, a license to sell a specific artwork or manage a specific sort of gallery may be required.
Art Dealers may also be subjected to an employment background check, which may include but is not limited to, a person’s job history, schooling, credit history, motor vehicle records (MVRs), criminal record, medical history, usage of social media, and drug testing.
Projected Career Map
Career advancement is driven by performance, experience, and the acquisition of professional certifications. Employees who consistently deliver above-average results may be eligible for advancement every two to three years.
An art dealer may start by discovering artwork at local yard sales and work their way up to pricing artwork at prominent worldwide auction houses.
Beginning with entry-level positions in sales and exhibitions, you may progress to gallery management. With expertise, you may be able to work with curators and museum employees to create galleries in museums.
You could become an expert in a certain art genre or time. Although commercial auction houses and galleries frequently exhibit and sell artwork in a variety of mediums and eras, specializing might provide you with a competitive advantage in the market.
You may develop your career or find a position at a larger workplace if you learn more about the art industry and build a clientele and reputation of dependability and knowledgeability. If you enjoy collecting art, you may open your own independent dealership or gallery.
You could become an Art Archivist, Anthropologist, or Archaeologist with a related master’s degree. Art dealers who acquire art may one day open their own galleries. You might even start working from home, purchasing and selling artwork based on consumer demand.
Candidates with relevant art-related education, the ability to identify saleable artwork, a strong network of artists and buyers, and experience providing excellent customer service have the best job prospects.
Beneficial Professional Development
CPD will assist an active Art Dealer in developing personal skills and competency through work-based learning, a professional activity, formal education, or self-directed learning. It enables you to always improve your skills regardless of your age, career, or degree of expertise.
Apprenticeship programs, which normally run for one to three years, provide prospective art dealers with the opportunity to work with seasoned experts while learning about the art business, customer interaction, and on-the-job training.
Art dealers must start early in order to establish strong ties in the art industry with artists, collectors, gallery owners, and auction houses, as well as stay informed about new artists and shows. You can network in the art community through social gatherings or widen your experiences by working at multiple museums, galleries, or auction houses. Reliable connections with artists and buyers can provide you with the assurance that you are performing transactions at a fair price. One method to increase your trust with clients is to join a professional Art Dealer association. Reading trade periodicals also keeps you up to date on industry developments.
Art Dealers must develop their abilities to recognize and sell high-quality products throughout their careers and as the market expands. They must also be able to communicate with a diverse spectrum of collectors, from individual investors to large corporations. Art dealers must find appropriate CPD courses to assist them to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and maintain a competitive advantage in the field. Those who work in a more traditional commercial gallery may benefit from taking courses offered by prominent auction houses.
Because specialization can lead to success in the area, you should consider studying a certain art form unique to a particular region in order to become an authority on it. However, it would be beneficial if you continued to learn more about your specialty and art in general while honing your art appraisal techniques.
You can also pursue a master’s degree in a field that allows you to study gallery and museum studies or art policy and management, as long as the program meets your continuing education (CE) criteria. Curating and art curating are common subjects of study within master’s degree programs.
Art Dealers make an important role in determining cultural and aesthetic trends. They continue to use their knowledge of art, intuitive skills, marketing abilities, and network of contacts to promote artists, help galleries find fresh artwork, and bring the stakeholders in the art world together, adapting their work and role to the growing role of technology in the art trading market.
Advice from the Wise
It takes more than just selling artwork to become an art dealer. Be prepared to manage the back-end labour, such as frame, stretching the canvas, organising logistics, and acquiring insurance. Make sure you do your research on what has to be completed before an item is ready to sell. Consider conducting home shows for clients to see how an artwork will look in their home.