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  • Writer's pictureJules

Strength in Numbers

How to tell apart a professional vs emerging artist

If you're looking at what the difference might be between a seasoned artist and an emerging one, often it comes down to consistency of topic and style. An emerging artist may be trying lots of different ideas, colours, mediums, thinking what to do next. As an artist works more and more, they seem to revert to familiar themes and ways of expression. Far from being boring, this works in their favour.

Why a collection of similar images matters

Grouping images and ideas together gives them more purpose. After all, it's less likely to have been a fluke or a whim if there's more than one picture. A collection of similar images shows that the artist has delved deeply into the topic, exploring a passion. It gives rhythm to what's shown, and focuses the attention on specific points. A picture on its own may be interesting, but it's only when it's shown in conjunction with other similar images, can the power of the picture really be seen.

Giving meaning

When pictures are grouped together, the viewer starts to compare the images with each other. Their attention lingers longer on what the message might be from the artist. Much like speaking a language, if you say just one word, it could probably be construed many different ways. Whereas, if you say a sentence, you've put the word into context, and the meaning of it can be more fully explored. Ambiguity trades places with deeper knowledge and understanding.

Butterflies and moths

To show what I mean, I've selected a group of images from my personal photo library of butterflies and moths that I've taken randomly over the course of a year. (Who knew I was so interested in photographing these unique creatures??)

One image on its own doesn't really mean much (great, it's a picture of a butterfly/moth, so what?), but once they are shown in a group, it can give rise to many other interesting points. Differences in species, sizes, location... And more importantly, it starts to feel like a cohesive study. Worthy of our focus, our attention. It can inspire curiosity and asks many more questions than it can answer.

And ultimately, that is the difference between successful artists and those just starting out. The power to direct the conversation by guiding the viewer's attention in a meaningful, purposeful way.

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