Be open to change and adapt: advice from an art curator’s own experience

 May 21, 2019

Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson / Photo: Saatchi Art

Connecting artists and art lovers is her passion, supporting yet unknown emerging talented artists has been her path. Rebecca Wilson, chief curator and vice president of Art Advisory at Saatchi Art, shares her advices to both artists and art lovers.

Rebecca Wilson has been brought up by open-minded, liberal parents and she was lucky enough to have followed her dreams and passions already at an early age. She closely worked first with writers and then artists, while moving into leadership positions. She still maintained all through her path her integrity and democratic views about art not being about privilege and artists having equal opportunities, regardless of their backgrounds.

Art plays a crucial part in Wilson’s every day life not only professionally. According to her, anyone can become more aware to art in their every days. She describes this by saying that looking at different kinds of art is like learning a new language.

“It can be challenging figuring out how the artist's visual language works, what they might be trying to say, but also rewarding to work out what it is you like and don't like.” states Wilson.

By focusing and looking more at art, the more it will expand your appreciation of all kind of things from design, fashion and the natural world suggests Wilson, while she expands on this theme. And indeed, today art and artistic elements are main inspirations for many designs in every day objects that we use, by things we are surrounded. Looking at art from this perspective, where it connects many different elements to one, it is a main driving force in design, in fashion, technology and in trends.

The role of the artist has developed into a much deeper and important one. From this open minded view, one can learn and deepen their thoughts about the world and life by understanding the different way artists depict their own worlds. They make one reflect on issues and themes from a different perspective, so it is worth expanding to follow artists, their views, philosophies and their artistic expressions.

“The gift that artists give us is showing us ways to slow down and see the world differently.” affirms the passionate curator Wilson.

Having had followed during her career the philosophy of being open to change, being determined and gently persistent, Wilson has a very positive view of the time we are living in to be an artist. Her advice to artists is to be proactive and to be willing to try out new experiences. She defines the world today as full of opportunities that would not have been available to artists 10 years ago.

With this view of flexibility and open to new opportunities in her life experiences, Wilson suggests artists to open up and to embrace the internet. By taking advantage of the opportunities offered through the internet, one can sell their work online, no longer having to wait in the studio for a gallery to finally be discovered she explains.

According to Wilson, while not so long ago artists depended heavily on galleries, today’s artist can build up not just a local following but also access international collectors, and can start to make a living from their own world even if they do not have a brick and mortar gallery representing them. While many new channels have opened up and have made it easier for artists today, there are also many mistakes that artists make.

“The mistake some artists make is thinking that being represented by a brick and mortar gallery is still the only way to progress as an artist, and it no longer is! This is the time to be assertive as an artist and take advantage of all the different avenues there are for selling your work and reach new audiences.” highlights Wilson.

Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson / Photo: Saatchi Art

The other mistake, adds Wilson that artists make is that they agree to an exclusive representation from one gallery.

“In the 21st century this is no longer necessary - keep your options open and explore lots of possibilities rather than limiting yourself to just one option for selling your work.” advices Wilson further.

Being a woman in leadership herself, with a path of being prepared to adjust and adapt as she moved clearly in her career, as an art curator and vice president Wilson too had to find the right balance for her passion, work and life goals. Her positive views concerning women artists are refreshening in todays’ art world. She describes it as an exciting time of change where there is now evidence of a concerted effort and desire to do something about the underrepresentation of women artists in the art world.

“There is no shortage of outstanding work being made by women so it is now a question of making sure that women are equally displayed in museums and galleries, that their exhibitions are covered just as much as shows by men in magazines such as ArtForum, and that every effort is made for the art world to reflect the society we live in terms of gender as well as racial diversity.” Wilson explains.

Again Wilson highlights the importance of internet and online galleries, such as Saatchi Art, and other resources. Through these new doors and avenues opening up, the number of women artists who are able to pursue their dreams of being an artist, has risen. In fact in 2018, says Wilson more than half of Saatchi Art’s sales by U.S.-based artists were works by women.

Rebecca Wilson with her optimistic and very clear goals proves that there are many supporting actors in the art world, who are not only admiring and are inspired by artists but who are actively taking part day in and out in making it an open-minded and an inclusive world for all talents who are willing to make a change.

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