In addition to my full-time dedication to my artistic practice, I also manage our own small art gallery business known as Bintana Art Gallery. Scaling an art gallery business presents unique challenges, particularly when I serve as both the in-house artist and owner. Unlike the production of mass-manufactured products that involve a large workforce, creating artwork is a deeply personal, handcrafted process, limited by the artist’s capacity to create. To offer a diverse range of artworks, we represent other artists within our gallery, showcasing their creations alongside my own.
But it has also become a practice now that big established artists employ the help of artisans or studio apprentices especially in massive sculptural or mural works like the colossal sculpture works of Jeff Koons or the huge mural paintings of Takashi Murakami. It can’t possibly be done without the help of other hands. Such extensive projects require the collective effort of skilled individuals, akin to a factory-like production.
You might wonder if these collaborative efforts still qualify as artworks, given that they are not solely the product of the artist’s hands. Traditionally, the title of “artist” implies that an individual is primarily responsible for creating their own paintings. However, in the context of contemporary visual art, it is essential to recognize that artists may enlist the assistance of a team when dealing with large-scale, highly detailed pieces.
In my opinion, this practice does not diminish the status of the artwork as art. The primary considerations are the origin of the idea and the artist’s creative direction and vision. The artist is the source of the initial concept and plays a pivotal role in shaping and molding the final artistic product. Although he/she may not personally execute every detail, his/her vision and direction significantly contribute to bringing the artwork to life.
The key factor here is the artist’s consistent presence and involvement in the creative process. The artist should be actively engaged in supervising and directing the project to ensure that their personal touch and soul are infused into the artwork. An artist who merely delegates all responsibility to assistants while they take an extended vacation might be considered a “lazy artist.” Nevertheless, as long as the artist remains actively engaged in the creative process, the credit and status of the artwork as art remain intact.
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