“ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career”

By Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber

Rating: 4 out of 5.


ART/WORK aims to be the most comprehensive guide in this field. It gives artists of every level the tools they need to make it in such a competitive field. Whether you’re an art school grad looking for a gallery, a mid-career artist managing a busy studio, or someone just thinking about becoming a professional artist, this indispensable resource will help you build your career and protect yourself along the way. 

Unlike other creative professionals, visual artists usually don’t have agents or managers. Since you have to do it all yourself, at least until you find gallery representation, you need to know that there are important business and legal issues you need to understand to stay in control of your career and ensure you’re being treated fairly.

“Such a good resource for professional working artists in many different capacities. This book covers everything from shipping artwork to taxes. It has commentary from professional curators, artists, and more in the margins which is really helpful as well to read real world experience along with technical advice applicable to many artists trying to work independently or for an organization. “

— User

Heather Darcy Bhandari, a gallery director, and Jonathan Melber, an arts lawyer, (what a combo!) walk you through these issues so that, at the end, you’ll be able to act as your own manager and agent! They show you, for example, how to tackle business basics such as tracking inventory and preparing invoices; how to take legal precautions like registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; how to use promotional tools like websites and business cards; and how to approach career decisions such as choosing the right venue to show your work. 

In addition to their own experiences, Bhandari and Melber interviewed nearly one hundred curators, dealers, and other arts professionals about what they expect from and look for in artists. The book is full of entertaining anecdotes and candid advice. 

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Heather Darcy Bhandari is an independent curator, a co-founder of The Remix, an adjunct lecturer at Brown University, and a consultant to several for-profit and not-for-profit arts institutions. The second edition of her book Art/Work was published by Simon and Schuster in October of 2017. She is on the board of directors of visual arts at Art Omi and the advisory board of Trestle Gallery. From 2000 to 2016 she was a director of Mixed Greens gallery in Chelsea. Most recently, she was the Director of Exhibitions at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn and a lead organizer of Forward Union. Her career began at contemporary galleries Sonnabend and Lehmann Maupin.

Pressure to sell can stifle development, especially at the beginning of a career. But because there’s a real possibility to sell work as an emerging artist, you have to confront issues, and understand how the art world works, in a way that emerging artists never had to before.

Heather Darcy Bhandari

Jonathan Melber began his career as an arts-and-entertainment lawyer in New York, representing artists, galleries, collectors and a host of creative individuals and companies. He eventually left his legal practice to join the art e-commerce startup 20×200 as head of business development, later moving to LA to run content acquisition business affairs at Hulu. Today, Jonathan handles monetization strategy and digital licensing for Turner’s entertainment networks. Jonathan graduated from Brown University with a degree in philosophy and received his JD from New York University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Law Review. 

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