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Art is a dynamic industry that abounds with creativity and imagination. This Creative Careers Guide introduces some of the key roles in the industry, and the skills required to do them, as follows:



An artist is a person who is engaged in the activity of creating, practicing or demonstrating art, working with visual techniques, such as composition, colour, space and perspective to produce the desired effect. This could be in the form of installations, sculptures, paintings, drawings, pottery, performances, dance, photography, video, film and any other medium. Artists may also combine a number of different mediums into their work referred to as mixed media. Artists tend to create their own pieces for sale directly to the public or through an intermediary such as a gallery or an agent. Artists can also be commissioned by a client, gallery or organisation to produce a piece of work, and may also run art classes or be involved with community art projects.

Skills required: creativity, imagination, and business, marketing and financial awareness.


Art Agent

An art agent represents an artist working on their behalf to promote and sell their work. The role involves negotiating individual sales, commissions, licensing deals, as well as organising publicity, and seeking opportunities such as teaching and workshops.

Skills required: Negotiation and financial acumen, communication and networking, awareness of art trends, and marketing and PR.


Art Consultant/Advisor

Art consultants also known as art advisors act as an intermediary between artists, galleries and auction houses, and buyers by helping people such as art collectors select and acquire art for their home, business, or collection as well as help them sell pieces they no longer require.

Skills required: A great eye for art, negotiation, communication and listening, sales, finances and taxes.


Art Dealer

An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells works of art with aim of making a profit.

Skills required: A great eye for art, awareness of trends, negotiation, communication and networking, sales, finances.


Art Auctioneer

An art auctioneer works on behalf of their clients to sells pieces of art for the highest possible price. The art auctioneer is responsible for setting the price of the artwork. Art auctioneers need to be active in the arts by attending art exhibitions at galleries and museums, as well as attending art lectures and other related professional events.

Skills required: Art history relevant to their area of expertise, research, valuation, marketing and business, interpersonal skills


Art Valuer

Similar to an art auctioneer an art valuer gives advice on how much a work of art or a collection of art is worth. An like art auctioneers, art valuers need to be active in the arts by attending art exhibitions at galleries and museums, as well as attending art lectures and other related professional events.

Skills required: Research, art history, communication, financial, and an eye for detail.


Gallery Owner/Manager

A gallery owner or manager chooses and presents art for sale. Galleries may specialise in specific areas. A gallery owner or manager’s responsibilities include Managing both the creative and business sides of running an art gallery, as well as organising and exhibitions, private sales and loaning out art.

Skills required: An eye for art, creative flair, an awareness of trends, business, financial, marketing, sales, negotiation and communication.



A curator is in charge of a collection of exhibits in a museum or art gallery, and is responsible for assembling, cataloguing, managing, presenting and displaying artworks, cultural collections and artifacts.

Skills required: research, art/cultural history and awareness, organisation, project management, communication, presenting and creative flair.


Art Conservator

Art conservators are responsible for restoring, preserving and analysing artifacts and works of art. Art conservators tend to specialise in particular types of objects or materials such as books, paintings, sculptures or textiles.

Skills required: Research, art and cultural history, fine art, writing and analytical.


Art Historian

Art historians study art created in the past by individuals, learning about artists’ lives and their societies, and seeking to interpret and understand these works of art for the preservation of future generations.

Skills required: Research, art and cultural history, fine art, writing and analytical.


Art Critic

An art critic specialises in interpreting, analysing and evaluating art. Art critics produce written critiques or reviews that are published in newspapers, magazines, books, exhibition brochures and catalogues and well as on websites. Art critics are highly influential and can make or break careers with their words.

Skills required: Observation, writing and editing, analytical, objective and research.

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  • Preserving traditional skills the Kayla cushion by Frida 54 highlights the art of Tritik, a process of knotting and sewing that results in a variety of symmetric patterns. Handwoven with 100% cotton from the cotton mills of northern Cameroon the textiles are dyed with handmade dyes using ancestral techniques. [📷 credit: @frida_54 ]
  • Values . Respecting the design [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Infuse your interior style with the colourful elegance of African beaded necklaces courtesy of The African Woven Necklace light shade by @moderngesture. The design features graduating circular hoops each hand wrapped with colourful woven thread bands. Handcrafted in Cape Town, South Africa by designer Candice Lawrence, the lighting is available in the  Atelier Fifty Five shop. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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