Making it in the Art World – book review

Stuart Bush Studio Notes, Making it in the art world, art world,

Making it in the Art World

The once traditional approach of cracking the art market by working the gallery and exhibition circuits, and applying for bigger and bigger opportunities, is no longer the only route to notoriety.    The book, ‘Making it in the art world: New approaches to Galleries, Shows and Raising Money by Brainard Carey’, was written to give artists insight to finding their own way into the art world. Carey incites artists to raise their own money; build up networks; and bypass the gallery system in order to light a fire under their own career.


I had the assumption, before reading the book, that it would tell me the same old things I have heard before about beginning a career in the arts. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the text is full of tips and advice, personal anecdotes and explanations of what happens behind the scenes. Its intention is to get you thinking about the variety of ways you can get noticed in the art world.

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Carey’s book highlights various methods that artists have used to draw attention to their work. When I first read the book, about five years ago, I wasn’t ready to act on a lot of advice. I was still working on what I wanted to do. Now after re-reading the book, I realise that l had lacked the inner confidence to attempt the attention-seeking approaches and recommendations.  But if you are beyond the handicap of doubting your work and abilities, then this book is composed for you.


In his book, Carey discusses a variety of artists and how they haven’t required galleries. From the film, Exit to the Gift Shop and Mr Brainwash, to Damian Hurst’s multi-million-pound art auction. The stories are used to stimulate ideas. Carey tells us that artists need to consider how their art and its message is crafted and communicated.

Making it Art World – link

Amazon books

In the chapter ‘Getting into the Whitney Biennial,’ Carey advises that showing courage and nerve is what the artist needs. When he tried to get in the Whitney Biennial, he only had two years experience as an artist. He felt that several years of running a small gallery and exhibiting his own work was an insufficient experience. As a result, Carey intentionally kept his past and background a mystery. In this chapter, he discusses the language and tactics he used as he passed in through the backdoor of the art world.


Carey’s advice on writing an artist’s statement is centred on making sure it is not tiresome and stale. Instead, he advocates writing something that people will not forget such as, ‘I paint because I am a dirty woman’ by Marlene Dumas. Carey has made a workbook at the end of each chapter of his book which artists are encouraged to use it to add to and enhance their own statements and views.

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The book teaches artists that they have the responsibility to ensure that they do not take anything for granted. Any advice that makes artist think about circumnavigating the traditional system, is in my opinion, interesting to hear. Carey imparts his wisdom in a light-hearted, easy to read book as he tries hard, rightly so, to embed an entrepreneurial spirit in artists.  It is a stirring and instructive book.


Since the book was published back in 2011, it would be beneficial to have a new edition with fresh insight to approaches needed to launch a career in 2020, for example, by using Instagram and Patreon. Carey preaches that the quality of your mind determines the quality of your life. Artists need to be liberated with good advice like this in order to change their approach and to change the world with their art.

My review – four out of five

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