In the art world, artists are divided into three categories: emerging, mid career and established. For good reason however, what these categories delineate can be a matter of contention. The constant mutability of modern life has not only changed art, but also how we categorize, understand and value works.
That being said, having an understanding of the differences between each ‘level’ of artist is still useful. Doing so, can help elucidate a work’s value, the artist him or herself and give you access to art world dialect.
The emerging artist is at the beginning of their career. They may still be in art school or recently graduated and have yet to create a large body of work or exhibit at many galleries. Generally their price point falls between $50 and $5000.
The mid-career artist is further along in their career. They have exhibited not only locally, but also nationally or internationally. With a developed body of work, the mid-career artist has received some kind of recognition from the art world.
Godwin Bradbeer, 'Blue Boy'
Established artists have hit icon status. They have exhibited extensively nationally or internationally in reputable institutions, been written about and entered the cultural discourse. At auction, their status is reaffirmed by consistently high bids.
As always, try not to fret over these distinctions. Not all artists slot easily into a tier with some bypassing levels, changing status posthumously or defying traditional trajectories (just look at street art). Plus, buying art solely based on this kind of categorization will rarely be as rewarding as figuring out what you love.