The Emergence of Practice: Motivation and Decision Making Among Contemporary Visual Artists
Dr M Erickson (School of Social Studies)
Applying the practice-based MPhil/PhD, I am searching my primary data from the practicalcase-studies where I act as Visual Artist, Art-Curator and Art-manager to create my own art works, stage exhibitions, and manage the creative process (similar to the experience of any emerging artists in the arts market). I conduct the survey via semi-structured interviews which aim to find how established and not established artists access relevant knowledge and information and use it in professional practice; and what influences their decision-making on the way to establishment as Self-employed Visual Artists, as well as showing to what extent the researcher’s theories and practice are common for other practitioners in the sector.
‘The Flight’- art installation at the Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival (2003). The purpose of this case-study is to gather information on the experience of the artist in the international public/state art market as an Artist, Curator and Self-manager.
‘Eye Dreams’ exhibition (artist Zeyno Dagli’s Soloshow) in a London gallery where I act as a curator and manager-administrator to conduct the Video–art exhibition to promote and raise the profile of the emerging artist. This experiment provided the study with practical evidence of a Self –Managed Visual art market.
‘The Exhausted Body’ exhibition – 10 international artists (coming from Public, Commercial and Self-managed markets) exhibited in an international Public Museum. This case study gathers the complex issues of working in the Public Market as an Artist, Artist-Curator and Artist-Manager and helps to:
‘Heavy Weight’ – a series of photographs of school No. 1 in Beslan, where more than 300 children and adults were killed during a terrorist siege in 2004. This case study helps the researcher to understand and explain the moral issues involved in work based on disasters, with respect to the society which been harmed.
‘Serving Life’ exhibition - a solo show of a series of portraits where I explore the Commercial Art market opportunities including pricing mechanisms.
The study based upon the visual art market established in the UK with the case-studies conducted internationally.
In this study I have researched the practice of contemporary self-employed visual artists using my personal experiences. Setting six practice-based case studies I reflected on the artists’ roles: artist-creator, artist-curator, artist-self-manager and artist-scholar working internationally. Operating independently and within public and private arts organisations I posed research questions concerning artists’ external and internal motivation to become an artist and the roles they are apt to fulfill for professional practice and artistic identity. These questions formed the qualitative research using semi-structured video interviews and results from questionnaires provided the study with primary data on the wider artistic population working in the UK and US. Critical reflection and analysis of the practice-based case studies and qualitative data collected was separated in two collection methods of this research: 1) a visual component with explanatory analysis of practical experience, and 2) philosophical analysis in the context of sociology and cultural studies of artists. The first part was mostly visualised through documentary films and visual materials supporting each case study and in turn supporting my practical work and explaining the origin of my practice and motivation as artist. The second is a study into the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of the wider population of surveyed artists positioned into the broad context of the social framework within which they operate. The outcomes, of both practice and research, identified irrationality in artists’ decision-making mechanisms to pursue an artistic career. For example, most of the artists interviewed described how they instinctively chose a professional path that is similar to vocation, rather than more straightforward employment. Moreover, despite art being their vocation, there was a lack of common ground amongst these artists regarding a definition of “art”, and this has the effect of adding to the confusion surrounding the idea of art as a professional career in today’s consumer society.
In this research I aim to identify, clarify, and explain the basic motivation of artists to produce, deliver, and continue working as self-employed visual artists in contemporary capitalist society. The reason to study artists’ motivation arises from my personal experience in which I identified a series of inadequacies while working as a self-employed visual artist. I saw that there is no sufficient self-employed visual artist production wage structure or other non-financial reward that can allow artists to sustain or survive in their practice from producing art.