Art auctioneer UK

HOW CAN I BECOME AN ART AUCTIONEER IN THE UK?

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  • Post last modified:February 18, 2024
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To work as an art auctioneer, you will need to become a specialist in fine art and a savvy business person. As an art connoisseur, it is mandatory to have a passion for art as this is something that cannot be faked. In other words, you must love handling aesthetic objects like ceramics and paintings and be able to evaluate them in the art marketplace.
There are several ways to become an auctioneer:
It’s your family’s business
Attend auction school
Apprenticeship.
Here are steps to get started in your art auction house career;

art auctioneer Uk


Get A College Degree In Art History
Becoming an expert in your field is the key to success. Many successful people only had a high school education; however, a college degree is necessary for today’s competitive job market. And to become a high-level art expert, a graduate, and even a doctorate in your area of specialization is required.
To work in the field of art auctions, a degree in art history is the first step. Many people working in art auction houses will also be art appraisers certified by professional arts organizations.
Attend Auction School
Auctioneer Douglas Bilodeau says, “Go to auction school!!!” At auction school, students learn how to make proper bid calling and improve their public speaking techniques and presentation.
Auction schools teach students how to work the various auctions such as government, bankruptcy, consignment, and estate auctions and work in auction houses.
Auction schools also teach marketing, business, and appraisal skills, plus how to deal with ethical, legal, and tax issues.
Attend Art Auctions
The preview is when visitors can examine and sometimes handle the slated artworks for auction. The art auction house staff is on hand to discuss the condition, provenance, value, and rarity of the artworks.
What to expect at an auction:
When an auction begins, visitors are seated, and the artworks are no longer available for individual inspection. The auctioneer’s auction works by lot, in numerical order as listed in the catalog.
Apprentice
Besides majoring in art, learn the business side by apprenticing in an auction house.
Art appraising is a vital skill to work in an auction house. St. Louis-based certified acceptable art appraiser Mary Carpenter advises, “to become a Fine Art appraiser, I would first obtain a degree in Art History. I would then work in a gallery or at an auction house to understand the market size of the business first-hand. If you can have experience with conservation, that is useful in assessing the impact condition has on objects.”
Fine arts auction house expert Katherine Boyle of Bonhams also recommends the importance of auction housework experience. She provides advice on how to advance your career in art auction houses.
Specialize
In these fast-paced times, spending time reading and contemplating is often overlooked. However, if you want to succeed in your art auction house career, you must become an expert with a specialization. Being such an art expert requires having a wealth of information about art and aesthetics, so reading about these topics is necessary.
Jim Halperin of Heritage Auctions advises:

Art auctioneer UK
  • Engage specialists in conversation, and ask questions about the market: Auction previews, art, antique fairs, and art galleries are the perfect places to speak with art experts and further develop your art market knowledge.
  • Review catalogs: Museums, art galleries, and auction houses produce high-quality catalogs which provide detailed information about artworks, such as their provenance and rarity. Many museum libraries will carry art catalogs.
  • Pick an area of interest and develop deep expertise: Check the various departments of an art museum or an art auction house to help determine which area to specialize in.

Work Hard
As in any field, working hard is the surest way to become professionally successful and climb that proverbial ladder. Being employed in an art auction house requires staff members to work hard and work collaboratively as there are constant deadlines and exacting details to focus on.
Auctions are a team effort – be flexible and prepared to pitch in during any crunch or deadline. At HA, getting a foot in the door, hard work, and a willingness to learn can lead to opportunities and growth.
Be Active In the Arts
To succeed in the field of art auctions, you must be active in the arts. Attending arts events is mandatory. To work successfully as an art auctioneer, it is imperative to be active in the arts by attending art exhibitions at museums and art galleries and attending art lectures and other professional events geared for arts professionals.
Attend lectures, galleries, and museum shows. Attending such events helps you stay aware of contemporary art and art market trends and is a wonderful way to network with like-minded people and other art experts.
Do Thorough Research
Regarding art auction house staff, the ideal specialist comes with experience from various sources—from art galleries/dealers, other auction houses, scholarly committees, museums.”
“Cataloguing is a good starting point as one must look closely at details, including condition and overall appearance; research, and comparables analysis and authentication. Cataloging also allows working closely with knowledgeable specialists and examining a steady flow of objects. Actively experiencing objects is the most important step to building expertise and developing an eye.”
Licensing
Some countries and some American states require art auctioneers to be licensed to work as auctioneers.
Licensing varies from country to country and even state by state in the US. Not all states in America require auctioneer licenses. So check with local auctioneers, auction houses, and state authorities about their licensing requirements. Different states require licensing. HA’s auctioneers are licensed in New York and Texas; bonded in California.
Maintain an Impeccable Reputation
Ethics are extremely important for art appraisals and art auctions, as success in these fields relies upon maintaining an impeccable reputation. Since a large part of the art trade is unregulated, reputation is key, and auctioneers must possess an excellent reputation to be successful in their careers at art auction houses.
Jim Halperin of Heritage Auctions says, “A good auction house is a labor-intensive, knowledge-based, low-margin, high-overhead, very cyclical business. Retain lawyers, accountants, and marketing consultants; learn a specialty cold; and be prepared to work very hard, with eyes firmly fixed on the long-term horizon: In this business, reputation is everything.”