Deep Thought Thursday: Age

Do you consider your age a positive or negative (or neither) for your art career?

Do you reveal your age on your website, etc?

©Celeste Gober, Sandy Hook

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29 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: Age”

  1. I think if you are an exceptionally good artist and young, it’s a benefit. Case in point, Kyle Stuckey just got 2nd place in Southwest Art Magazine’s “21under31” competition. Wouldn’t be surprised if galleries want him for the remainder of his career.

    On the other hand, my good friend, Kathy Anderson didn’t gain national visibility until she hit 60. She’s got a lot of energy and is a phenomenal painter of flowers and gardens. Her work is selling very well for decent prices (which are out of my buying range) at some great galleries.

    Quality has no age boundaries.

  2. I agree Alyson, “Quality has no age boundaries”. My hubby, Dion Raath has always drawn exceptionally well from a very young age, but even now at the age of 41, nobody comments or asks about his age.. no comments like “Wow, to draw like that and so young” when he was little either.

    People have always recognised the quality in his work.

  3. Hmmn.

    I think it was irreplaceable for me to have been an artist at a very young age. Then, I shelved that and went for life experiences. Also invaluable.

    Among the barriers that I have known that existed for me, so far age has not been one of them.

  4. I’m not at all sure. I’m certainly self-conscious about being 58 and not recognized at this stage of the game. Concern that I’ll be viewed as a dilettante, that although I’ve always worked at art related jobs, and always produced work, I haven’t until recently been able to devote myself full time to studio work and developing a business. Of course, I see my various work and life experiences as adding richness to my creative efforts. At the same time, I worry about the kind of press young artists are able to garner, not something you see with “emerging” older artists.

    I guess the solution is to motor on, continue being a serious artist, do as many of the marketing things possible, and hope not to run out of time!

  5. When I was at art college as a mature student in my 30’s, it used to bother me. I would get particularly annoyed at awards or exhibitions that were targeted at younger artists because they didn’t take into account that I was at the same stage in my career. In the last few years, it has become less of an issue mostly, I think, because I’ve come to rely less on external validation for my work.

    I do have my age on my website but only in the CV section and I don’t think anyone ever looks at that!

  6. As someone that just had a significant birthday – turned 50 last week – this subject has been popping into my head quite a bit.

    I wish I had started this journey at a younger age but the time I spent raising my kids was more important and so worth it. They are now out of the house and I feel like this is “my time” and I am excited about it.

    I heard somewhere that “50 is the new 30”. I will just keep repeating that to myself!

  7. Funny how many “emerging” artists I know that are in their 40’s & 50’s, like we all finally realized that we’d rather do something we love than something that is secure.

    I’m not sure how much age impresses galleries & buyers, but rather how much time has been spent in the practice of one’s art. I’ve been working on my art for about 25 years now, but only began showing & selling in the last ten or so. Only seriously marketing for less than that…

    So what is the measure of an artist? Age? Time? I think more the work itself, really, which usually does take some time, but not always.

  8. Here’s a little story about some “agism” I experienced recently…

    First a little background: I’ve been exhibiting and selling my work since I graduated college at age 22, have been published extensively, and have a fairly well established reputation in the Art Jewelry world, which I am very proud of. I am now 30.

    I was recently contacted out of the blue by a woman “offering” to pay me less than 25% of the retail price for a necklace in my webshop. Insulting to say the least. When I responded to her and explained that my prices were non-negotiable she responded with “Good luck, Oh Young Artist” which I found to be incredibly demeaning.

    Thankfully that was only one isolated incident! It’s frustrating when people do not take you seriously because of your age, however, I figure that as long as I take myself seriously and stick by the value of my work, I’ll do just fine. So I have absolutely no qualms about revealing my age on my website and elsewhere on the web.

  9. I have never looked at an art piece and wondered how old the artist was when the work was completed. It’s an interesting thought. Maybe you’ve identified one of the only fields to work in which age will not benefit, nor impair, your progression.

    In Margaux’ case, sounds like you ran into an ignorant buyer. I need not click your link to know your work. The buyer was trying to take advantage . . . if you were 85, she probably would have written a different derogatory remark. Some people . .


  10. I’ve been painting daily since 1967 and I’m darned proud! It is a tremendous accomplishment for me or anyone else to stick to art making like that. Just as it takes a long time to make a painting right, it takes decades for an artist’s vision to ripen and deepen.

  11. I don’t think age is a huge factor, but I have to admit I’ve used it to my advantage in getting my career off the ground. I advertised myself as a young artist when I started selling my work, and got published in SW Art Magazine’s 21 Under 31 feature, which gave me a bit of status I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Most of my galleries still describe me to collectors as a young up and coming artist.

    The flip side is that being a young artist (at least in the representational field) can be kind of isolating. I’ve been to events where I was the youngest person in the room by 15 years, and as such was not taken as seriously as other artists with the same resume.

    I’m 31 now, so I don’t personally push that angle anymore (although I have my age on my resume on my site), and I don’t think it’s a big deal. It all comes back to the quality of the art in the end.

  12. I am not concerned with my age or the age of anyone else. I believe that my purpose is to create. I create. I create now, I created then, I will create tomorrow. My work will follow me on my journey to life’s end.

    If someone wanted to find out my age it wouldn’t be difficult, they could ask for instance. There is at least one or two photos of me on my site so viewers could guess as well.

  13. i don’t believe age is of any importance, what matters is the quality of the art work.

    And yes, my age is both on my website and has been mentioned on my blog…48!!

  14. I just turned 60. I am in excellent health. My work is better than ever and people are responding very positively to it. Galleries seem to be open to “risk” their promotional dollars and wall space on an aging, emerging artist for which I am deeply appreciative.

    So, from a business sense, age does not seem to be as big an liability as I once thought it would be. I believe, perhaps naively, that the quality of work is still the most important factor in judging an artist’s work.

    That said, age is very much on my mind. I am more acutely aware of my own mortality than ever before. Not so much a feeling that life will soon end – I have an agreement with my wife that I will life to 112. But I do know I will experience a decline in my ability to create my best work much sooner that a younger artist would. And that awareness has become a very strong driving force to do better work and take the use of my time far more seriously.

    Perhaps that is maturity. Maybe I just grew up.

  15. Like many, I believe what really matters is the quality of the work. I’ve not really given age much thought. It’s like when I look at a painting, I rarely notice the frame. Similarly, I rarely think about how old a person might be. I do not hide my age on my web site. There are photos that would give you a decent idea of what kind of neighborhood I’m knocking around in. But I must confess, like Barbara, I have thought about running out of time. Especially when I think about when I started and how much there is still to learn. I’m older than Barbara.

  16. What a great question and discussion! I vote with the people who mentioned their richness of life experience and how it benefits their art. Discerning the trivial from the important is a skill learned from encounter, and it can’t be rushed.

  17. I totally agree, “Quality has no age boundaries” I am 57 and have no issues with revealing my age. I do post it on most everything. I graduated from art school back in 1974. I went into teaching…I now do my art full time. Do I wish I would have done it when I was younger? Probably, but only because it’s what I love and I feel that I took too long to realize it and worked in places where I was not happy.

  18. I love that age doesn’t seem to be a factor in art. I don’t have to worry about retirement, I can keep doing what I love forever. I also love that being 31 is considered to be “young” for an artist, I feel like my whole life, and career, is ahead of me. there is no time limit.

    mind you, I wish I had started earlier. while I don’t think there are boundaries it appears that the sooner you start the sooner it all starts happening. but that is not about age so much as opportunity.

  19. I worked in the graphics world for over 25 years and in that area your age did seem to be a big factor – I’m very glad to be away from that. Now working on my own and doing what I want to do, age is never an issue with anyone. At 54 I finally can create what I want. I agree that art is ageless and I see not my face or gray hair, but a drive to create work that makes me happy. In many ways age is liberating.

  20. This topic is right up my alley!! LOL I have absolutely no problem telling anyone I am 55 years old! I am PROUD of that fact! It is so strange though. I find some others seem to find that more of an issue than I do! That is their problem.
    Ageism is obviously a huge challenge within our society. This is sad, but true. However, we can’t do anything about how old we are, can we? Therefore, I just keep on truckin. I wear my wrinkles like a badge of honor. In fact with every day that goes by, I appreciate that I have been blessed with all this time to create!
    Recently, I have been working with younger artists and I realize how my years of experience are so valuable! I am wiser and love that I have a long history of success. While working on various projects now, it is common for younger artists to ask “How do you know how to do all this?” I jokingly answer “I know how to do it because I am OLD and have been doing all this art stuff for a very long time!” LOL
    Seriously, age has brought comfort and freedom to my life. I do know how things work and how to get things done. You can only get experience like this if you live and if you keep living you get older. That is a fact I am very willing and happy to accept. 🙂

  21. After launching an art career in my 50’s that showed some promise, I had to drop out to care for a terminally ill husband. I’ve now started over as a full time artist in my 60’s and consider this time as a gift to focus exclusively on the art. It’s not age, it’s attitude that counts. I think once you get to this age, you stop focusing on your wrinkles and body parts that are drifting south (well, mostly), and just get down to the business at hand, because you do hear the ticking of the clock….

  22. When I was much younger (I’m 58 now), I was constantly being asked where I went to school, etc. No one asks anymore. They simply look at the work. I’m completely self-taught, by the way way. Just in case you were thinking to ask. 🙂

  23. Coming from a corporate background, I find it interesting that the art world seems to be the only place left that age is a factor. On resumes it is seen as discriminatory and I personally feel it can work the same in the art world. On either end of the spectrum.

  24. I started painting later in life. The down side of that is that there is so much that I want to learn and have less time to do that than if I’d started earlier. But here we are.

    The up side is that time is precious to me. Therefore, I put some of my energy into figuring out what I want to say with my painting. At this stage, I don’t have to rely on making money with my art so can investigate themes that draw me in.

    It’s exciting to be so eager to work – almost like falling in love; I think about it all the time.

    I’m 64, don’t mind telling people. Haven’t really experienced much in terms of negative reactions – the most annoying is being taken for a hobbyist by some of my friends and family. While I’m a latecomer and my skills and art history knowledge are limited, I do consider myself to be serious – but having a lot of fun, too.

    I used to have a friend who made the distinction between serious and sober. You can laugh and have fun and be perfectly serious about what you’re doing.

  25. I think mature artists are more likely to be nervous about starting a new stage in their lives if they’ve switched to art after a career in something else. But there’s a huge excitement and energy that comes with it too, because of the joy of being able to spend time doing something you love. With that factor added to the added depth that comes from a lifetime of experiences, older artists are really in a very good position to throw themselves into art in a serious way and produce results which might not be available to younger artists.

  26. Well I’m 50 and have been painting for 9 yrs., just in the last few years taken myself seriously as an artist.
    There may or may not be reasons to be younger, but I have no way of changing my age or my sex or how long I’ve been painting, My point is I have to work with what I got. I can learn new stradegies for marketing myself, I can learn new techniques for creating my work, I can invest more time money and energy, but I cannot change my age, therefore I don’t choose to even consider it. I recently won a Merchants Award in an Over 50 Show,
    had I been 7 months younger that would not have been possible.
    I enjoy my age, and I’m healthier now than 20 yrs ago. Better lifestyle choices.
    Plan to paint my entire life!

  27. Age can have its benefits, no matter what the age of the artist can be. I’ve always felt it’s really how the artist spins and markets it. I don’t usually take age into account when working my marketing efforts, but there are definitely times when I use my age, and my history, to my advantage.

    Young artists have the ability to use their age, their youth, to spin marketing efforts towards the idea of the up and comer. They can imply that now is the time to buy the work, because their career is on the rise (older artists can do this as well, if they are emerging like an artist that is young – but it’s my opinion that they have much more potent marketing material, as I’ll say next). Young artists can access that up-and-coming marketing slant very easily.

    But, as I’ve seen a lot of people post so far, not all artists are in their twenties and emerging. A lot of artists are those who are older and have come back to art, or to it for the first time. I’ve always felt these artists have such a wonderful marketing tool waiting for them because of their age. It’s been my experience that clients like work that connects to them in some way, and often it’s part of the artist’s own story, about themselves or the back story to the work, that helps sell the piece. If you are an artist later in life, you have the ability to connect with those collectors who also have a longer life history. You, as the artist, are probably doing something that the client wishes they could do – and you’ve lived life a lot like they have. It’s common ground, ground that younger artists cannot get. It seems to me that people like to see a little bit of a reflection of themselves in everything around them, so meeting an artist that has worked and lived in mainstream life and has now turned to painting has a lot more of an appeal than the art of a twenty-two year old fresh out of college. And the reason that this is more powerful than the idea of the up-and-comer is that most of the people buying art tend to be those people that are older and more established with a more secure financial situation. I know when I was twenty-two I wasn’t building my art collection.

    Just a couple of thoughts to add to an already well-stocked series of responses.

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