Niki Zanti | Artists’ Identities: A Study of the Living and Working Conditions of Visual Artists in Cyprus

This study explores a missing link between the notion of artistic identity and the way that visual artists approach their professional practice. It examines what visual artists mean when using these terms and why they sometimes use them interchangeably. It also identifies other influences that shape the living and working conditions of visual artists in Cyprus. These concerns are examined with particular focus on artists’ experiences and interpretations. It seems that artistic identity is an integrative element of an artist’s overall sense of identity. Although artists’ conditions have changed significantly over the last decades, a number of artists in Cyprus still reproduce the myth in order to make sense of their individual identity and position themselves in the artworld. Concurrently, this somewhat anachronistic depiction of the self can hinder their professionalisation. The study proposes a framework for conceptualising visual artists’ career development in Cyprus that reflects the fluctuant and heterogeneous nature of their careers. It examines the stages of artistic careers as well as the possible relations between these stages. There is also an informally organised infrastructure of services and resources, exerting various influences over the artist’s identity and career development. This conceptual framework lent a particularly helpful structure to the visualisation of individual trajectories that can serve as a base for future studies on artistic career trajectories. An understanding of their career development is useful in informing how private and public support systems are structured, what mechanisms, policies and practices are most appropriate and when support is needed most.
  Niki holds an MA in Arts and Heritage Management from London Metropolitan University and a BA in Fine Arts from the University of West of England. She is currently an associate lecturer at Birkbeck, teaching on the MA Arts Administration and Management module. She is also at the final stages of her PhD in Arts Management. Her research focuses on the situation of visual artists in Cyprus and their career development. In particular, she is interested in the relationships between artistic identity and professional practice, and between artists’ career trajectories and the private/public policies for artists.