How Do I Become a Conceptual Artist?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2019
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Concept art is not a traditional art form that emphasizes technique and appearance. Rather, this form of artwork is meant to capture an idea or belief. As such, one may not necessarily become a conceptual artist through schooling in typical techniques. A familiarity with art through self-teaching or art education may prove useful for some individuals, however. An open-minded, outspoken, and philosophical personality would also serve the conceptual artist well.

Many different labels are assigned to concept art, including idea art, performance art, and conceptual interactive art. Conceptual artists usually do not create works with often-used, familiar artistic instruments like paint, clay, or canvases. Rather, these individuals may use everyday objects ranging from toilets to their own bodies. A creative outlook is thus of critical importance.

This form of art is frequently intended to make a statement about some particular issue, about individuals, or about society in general. Individuals wishing to become conceptual artists should therefore have outspoken personalities and be willing to serve as an advocate of sorts. These artists also tend to receive more criticism than the average artist, so sensitivity is not a desirable trait. Debates with art critics and other artists concerning the validity of one’s work are another possibility, so a willingness to work outside conventional avenues is essential as well.


Indeed, it is rare for a person to intentionally become a conceptual artist, nor does he or she follow a typical route of artistic success. No formal schooling is necessary, and in fact some individuals may have no training at all. Some advocates of conceptual art argue that anyone can create a conceptual piece with simple written instructions or with forethought.

This being said, a successful conceptual artist may need some higher education schooling in an arts-related discipline or may need to possess some valid art show experience if profit is a main aim. A bachelor's or master's degree in fine arts could serve as one pathway for formal education to become a conceptual artist. Influential art movements such as Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism can be learned, as well as the high period of conceptual art in the late 1960s and early 1970s. If one focuses attention on performance art, some background in dance, acting, or another performing discipline will be helpful.

Controversy may also help individuals seeking to become a conceptual artist get noticed. A piece that takes on a hot-button topic will likely get more attention than a standard piece. Satirical humor may work well. Research and familiarity with the works of famed conceptual artists such as Robert Morris, Mirelle Astore, and Marcel Duchamp may further the path to achievement.


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Post 3

@clintflint - I would argue that it's not really conceptual art if it's done for commercial reasons. Although I guess that might be difficult to stick to when so many artists do end up selling their conceptual art.

To some extent I think becoming a concept artist depends on audacity and it's difficult to be truly audacious when you're working for a company.

Post 2

@Iluviaporos - That might be true of some protest works, but there are plenty of conceptual artist jobs that are basically commercial and so they do get permission from the city or whoever before they start.

I think most of the time people who get to work on those kinds of jobs have got a degree and probably quite a big reputation, since the company will want to be sure that they are getting bang for their buck.

Post 1

Concept art can be really incredible, but it can also be really annoying and hazardous. I've heard of people doing things like draping thousands of trees with plastic, which might have looked cool, but probably ended up with a lot of pollution and possibly with birds and animals dying from ingesting the plastic.

There have been other stunts like filling all the fountains of a city with colorful balls which always make me feel sorry for whoever has to clean up afterwards. Since conceptual artists often don't want to claim their work (since it's sometimes illegal) they probably aren't the ones who have to clean it up.

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