The very proactive organization W.A.G.E. (Working Artists for a Greater Economy) sent a very insightful letter to the New Museum in New York City:

“You recently announced expansion plans that will double the amount of space you currently occupy on the Bowery and that you have already successfully raised $43 million of the $80 million needed to do it.

“Congratulations – that’s big news. It could also be big news for the hundreds of artists who supply the content for your programs each year. After all, if you plan to double in size, surely there will be a significant increase in the number of programs being produced, which would surely provide income to more of the artists upon whose work your existence is predicated.

“If you were W.A.G.E. Certified that would certainly be the case, since you’d have committed to paying artists according to minimum standards of compensation.”

To read the letter in full and learn more about the organization, visit 


“Some artists adhere to a self-imposed hierarchy of believing that you have to “start small and work your way up.” Other artists believe that their market is limited to their town or city of residence, or that some sort of universal censorship is imposed, illogically concluding that there is no market “anywhere” for their work if they are unable to find a receptive audience in their hometown.” From How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist ©Caroll Michels 2016.


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Last year, Artist Jane Richlovsky presented a TEDx talk about how her studio eviction by Washington State’s Department of Transportation inspired her to rewrite the Artist vs. Gentrification story in two ways: In her paintings, she unpacked the mid-century version of the American Dream; and in her life she transformed the stereotypical image of the “starving artist in the garret “into the artist as business person who shares in the wealth they create.

Richlovsky and three other partners founded the company Good Arts LLC which recently purchased the historic Scheuerman Building in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. The renovated space will provide affordable artist studios, a commercial gallery and a retail craft store. Eventually, the new owners plan to restore the basement to its historic role as a performance space from 1972-1982, and as a jazz club during the 1940s.

“We believe that economic development should include the creative class as its beneficiary as well as its catalyst. To that end, we also foster connections between, and promote the interdependent prosperity of, artists and other neighborhood businesses and institutions. “


As cities across the nation contend with the displacement of culture by rising real estate prices, the conversation seems to be stuck on the idea of artists as hapless victims in this struggle. Artist Jane Richlovsky’s eviction from her studio by the Department of Transportation in Seattle inspired her to rewrite the Artist vs. Gentrification story. In her paintings, she unpacks the mid-century version of the American Dream. In her life she transforms the stereotypical starving artist in the garret into the artist as business person who shares in the wealth they create.Visit:

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
For additional information about Jane visit:


Artspeak, a video by artist Bill Claps, “explores the often incomprehensible language used by many curators, writers, critics, and other art insiders, which has alienated much of of the art-viewing public.“

The New York artist captures people’s thoughts and feelings about contemporary art, and includes footage shot in the streets, galleries and art fairs of New York, and in several countries in Europe.

The film was recently screened at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. Eventually it will be available to view online. In the meantime see the trailer:


“Artists, by the fact they are artists, have power. Artists provide thousands of nonartists with jobs! Examples of nonartists who depend on artists for jobs include art dealers, gallery staffs, curators, museum staffs, arts administrators; grants administrators; critics and journalists; corporate art consultants and advisors; federal, state, and municipal employees, framers; accountants; lawyers; framers; printers; and art suppliers.

“Yet more nonartists than artists make a living from art, and nonartists make more money from art than artists! This inequity exists, as do many others, because artists, the “employees,” individually and collectively have not yet recognized their power.” From How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist ©Caroll Michels 2015.


Labels exist everywhere in our society, and in the art world they thrive.  Artists are not only required to give a label to the type of artwork they create, but they must also label themselves within the hierarchy of the art world. And labels such as “emerging artist” and “mid-career artist” go unchallenged.  They are used with such frequency and fervor they have become an integral part of the art world vocabulary. And horror of horrors, even artists use these terms to describe themselves!

The blog Bmore Art which thankfully is against artist labels describes an emerging artist as “someone who’s in the early stage of their career, someone who’s caught the eye of an art critic and/or gallery, but hasn’t yet established a solid reputation as an artist amongst art critics, art buyers, and art galleries. “ The blog also describes an “emerging artist” as “An artist who has specialized training in his or her field (not necessarily gained in an academic institution), who is at the beginning of his or her career, and who has created a modest independent body of work.”

On the other hand, the Jerome Foundation supports “emerging professional artists who are the principal creators of new work, and who take risks and embrace challenges; whose developing voices reveal significant potential; who are rigorous in their approach to creation and production; who have some evidence of professional achievement but not a substantial record of accomplishment; and who are not recognized as established artists by other artists, curators, producers, critics, and arts administrators.”

In an article in Forbes, art appraiser Danielle Rahm writes about four artists whose work has received national and international recognition and is priced from $2,500 to $10,000. She labels all four artists as “emerging.”

The multimedia magazine DIS takes a different approach to the subject of artist labels in its video Emerging Artist. The video “explores contemporary culture’s obsession with the newest, freshest thing. Extreme youth. Pregnancy. Kim Kardashian’s unborn baby North, MTV’s Teen Mom, every cover of US Weekly; it’s practically a movement. Our desire for younger and younger artists is insatiable and growing as mothers in Williamsburg cradle their newborns to classes for ‘young artists’ ages 0–6 months—while artists at 30 ask, Am I too old?”

Humor aside, when it comes to pricing artwork, regardless of all of the abounding myths, career labels are inconsequential. Artists who are relatively new to the art world can sell work at higher prices than those artists who have an extensive exhibition record. I have seen this happen many times over. The difference between the two groups is that the artists with less experience in the art world have more self-confidence in their work and trust their own judgment regarding pricing, versus deferring to the self-serving directives of art dealers. Caroll Michels © 2015


Last July, writer Daniel Grant wrote about the pros and cons of being an artist’s studio assistant in an article in the New York Observer titled “Low Pay, Monotonous Work: Are Artist Assistant Positions Worth the Trouble?”

A few weeks later, Jillian Steinhauer wrote an article in Hyperallergic about the Marina Abramovic Institute which placed an ad on the website of the New York Foundation for the Arts announcing four unpaid studio assistant positions. Steinhauer pointed out that “Abramovic raised over $660,000 for her institute on Kickstarter in June. . . and recently ‘collaborated’ with Adidas. Yet somehow she cannot afford to pay people to work for

ARTISTS AND THE ART WORLD SOUNDOFF, created by Spector Projects, is a collection of first-person stories from the art world. “These are experiences that tell who we are, how we got here and what goes on while we do what we do. The art world is not easily defined. From the outside it is foreign and quirky, with ideas that separate it from all else. Inside, the makers, sellers, reviewers, administrators, curators, and academics coexist and work in harmony with completely different agendas. In its hugeness it is ultimately rooted in self-expression and kept alive by the thrust of people who need to create.” New stories are added bimonthly.



From Holland Carter, art critic, New York Times: “Somebody, someday will write a social history of 21st century art fairs, which will also be a history of the art of an era. I hope that history will give a sense of how engulfing the phenomenon is and of the Stockholm syndrome-like mentality it has produced: almost everyone says in private how they hate fairs, but everyone shows up at them, smiling anyway, and hangs out, when they could be visiting studios, or going to offbeat spaces, or taking trips, to Kolkata, say, or Bucharest, or Rio, or Cape Town, where all kinds of series in-touch-with-life work is going on.” Read more