Is there an age limit to be an emerging artist?

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

The Broad recently read an article in the local paper about several new art critics who had just been appointed. Now it’s always encouraging to read stories about mainstream media funding arts coverage, particularly in these times of closures and cutbacks across all outlets. Being an art critic, like being an artist, is a tough road to choose as an occupation. There are not all that many outlets to find writing gigs, particularly in Australia, and the pay is generally low and uncertain.

But it got me to thinking about why the default criteria for emerging artists is being young. It relies on the assumption people start in a certain role when young and grow through that into senior positions. But why is this the expected way of doing things? It’s based on the idea we have a single, linear progression through our lives – and while many people might take this path, plenty of people won’t for all sorts of reasons.

People change professions, people move in and out of jobs and sometimes it takes financial freedom in later years or retirement to have the space for creativity.

Why can’t someone emerge into a profession or creative endeavour at any time? And why can’t we offer older people the same support that’s made available to young, emerging folks? Or, better still, why can’t we support emerging creatives or emerging professionals whether they’re in their 20s, 50s or beyond? A young person emerging will having different needs and interests then someone later in life, but surely they both need support to find their place, develop a creative voice or connect with others in the field?

Turning to creativity later in life

Author and artist Lisa Congdon in her book A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives explores how women have found creative fulfilment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives. The book has profiles, interviews and essays from Vera Wang, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed and many more.

What does it mean to be an emerging artist?

A panel discussion as part of The Other Art Fair about the notion of emerging artists. Not sure the advice can be as simple as ‘be driven’ as the reality of emerging later in life bring positives with life experience, confidence and financial security, but challenges with balancing family needs, time needed for paid work and energy, eyesight and physical considerations. And even the Masters have had to contend with a dose of ageism, when their later works are sometimes thought to diminish their earlier masterpieces.

What role do art dealers play?

Does ageing in the artwork come from art dealers and collectors who favour young, emerging artists and may be less enthusiastic about buying pieces from older artists? This HuffPo article by its art writer examines what forces are at play in discriminating against older artists. Perhaps it’s the desire to find the young, undiscovered artist and snap up some artwork that will be worth a mint in years to come that’s driving this favouritism. Here are five late bloomers in the art world including Cezanne and Mary Delany.

On being an older, emerging artist

What is the experience of being an older emerging artist? Andrew Stelmack shares his experiences in this personal story of being a ‘salt and pepper’ emerging artist, while in this article several other older artists tell their stories.

Does creativity improve with time?

Maybe our most creative years are in are 60s? Here is some more inspiration from people who embraced older life creative and artistic endeavour.

On being an artist at any age

Artists of all ages share their thoughts on what they’ve learned from a life in art, whether it’s been a handful of years or a heap of years.

Finding a creative path

If you’ve felt your own artistic rumblings, but maybe you’re not sure where to begin, look to those who’ve forged a path like this step-by-step guide on how and what to consider before starting on a new creative pursuit.

Discover these artists

Keen to discover some emerging artists, age-unidentified, for yourself? There are 10 in this list producing works in many different styles.

Films on art and artists

Inspired creatively but don’t necessarily want to make art yourself? Check out this list of 20 films about artist for some inspiration and if that’s not enough and these are six critically acclaimed films about artists.

Some Notes From A Broad posts on art and artists

Some other art-related posts have looked at artist Cornelia Parker, the Archibald prize and virtual gallery tours.

Main photo credit: Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

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Rosalyn Page
Journalist, blogger and writer covering arts, culture, travel and digital lifestyle at www.rosalynpage.com and www.somenotesfromabroad.com.

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