Skip to main content
Home » Inspiration » Undiscovered talent: putting emerging artists in the frame

Undiscovered talent: putting emerging artists in the frame


Sarah Ryan

Founder, New Blood Art and ARTOVERT

Supporting artists at the start of their careers could give them the career boost they need, says Sarah Ryan of New Blood Art and ARTOVERT. But what’s the best way to find new talent?

If you think that art graduates have it easy, Sarah Ryan is only too happy to set you straight. “There’s a huge chasm between being at art college and establishing a career,” she says. “It’s so difficult for new artists to find a place to showcase and sell their work.”

There’s a huge chasm between being at art college and establishing a career.

This is partly why Ryan — an artist and former art tutor — founded New Blood Art in 2004, a niche online gallery which sells art by selected emerging artists. She also recently started ARTOVERT, a subscription based online art marketplace charging artists just 2% commission on sales. “The internet has changed things in many ways,” she says. “When I was at art college, there wasn’t any way for students to sell their work. Whilst the internet existed, it didn’t yet present the the scope for showing art online). If you didn’t have interest from a gallery or know some industry insiders — and very few of us did — it was hopeless, really.”

Marketing & pricing art is a skill

Once, Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin were ’emerging artists’. But they also always seemed to be very good at marketing themselves: a skill that not all up-and-coming talents have. “Almost every young artist I speak to says that it’s a big shift to think commercially about their work.” says Ryan. “But at some point they have to consider pricing their work and creating relationships with galleries and buyers.” The dichotomy is, if they think about this financial imperative too much while they’re still at college, it could interrupt their creative process.

When an artist makes their first sale it feels as though a career is actually possible.

Buying artwork from emerging artists is, therefore, an important thing to do. From a mercenary perspective, the work of a new artist will be priced as low as it’s ever likely to be (don’t bank on it increasing; but it could). Plus, there’s a certain satisfaction to be had from supporting undiscovered talent. “It’s so wonderful when an artist makes their first sale,” says Ryan. “It can have a hugely positive impact on them because it feels as though a career is actually possible.”Work by emerging artists from New Blood Art

Hunt out talent at degree shows

For anyone wanting to dip their toe into buying art from emerging artists, the trick is knowing where to find them. “One of the ways is to go to degree shows,” says Ryan, “although the universities don’t always do a terribly good job of publicising them. Apart from the private view night, these shows are often quiet and run for a few days or up to a week. The artists will be there invigilating, so you should get a chance to speak to them. And sometimes you see an artist’s work at one of these events and it really stands out from the crowd. It’s pretty clear they have something special.”

Next article