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An art appraiser is highly knowledgeable in the visual arts, including paintings, sculpture, and photography, and uses that knowledge to determine the overall value of each piece. The most important characteristic that you need to become an art appraiser is a passion for the subject. A degree in a relevant field and experiencing working with art are also helpful.
While it is possible to become an art appraiser without actually enjoying art, keep in mind that you will be spending all of your work hours looking at art pieces in depth. Sometimes, you may even look at the same piece for days before you can make your final determination regarding its value. Having a passion for the subject can help get you through times when the job becomes monotonous or tedious. Passion can also increase your knowledge, as if you enjoy art, chances are you have spent quite a bit of time studying it over the years.
An educational background in art and art history is not always required to become an art appraiser, but it can definitely give you an edge over the competition. A Bachelor’s degree in the subject is usually sufficient, although you may opt to obtain higher level degrees to expand your knowledge and skill. Art history gives you a good overview of how art has evolved over the centuries and teaches you the different styles used to create works of art. Knowing the background and characteristics of an artist or particular piece can help you learn to spot forgeries or flaws with more ease as well.
Passion and education can help get you into the art world, but actual experience is the most valuable asset if you want to become an art appraiser. There are many ways to get experience, including working in a reputable art gallery or art museum, and apprenticing with another art appraiser. If you are unable to find a paid position at first, volunteering your time can also gain you necessary experience working with art. While you are gaining experience, spend your free time expanding your knowledge on the subject.
Once you have the education and experience required to become an art appraiser, you will need to get your name out there and establish yourself. This may require taking on low-paying jobs at first, but it can be worth it if your client has contacts in the art world. You will need to spend almost as much time networking as you do on the actual job. Attend gallery openings and museum functions as often as possible, and become a regular at places where art collectors gather. Once your reputation is built, you will be on your way to a successful career as an art appraiser.