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The information‐seeking behavior of visual artists: a literature review

William S. Hemmig (Bucks County Community College, Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature on the information behavior of practicing visual artists to determine if a consistent model emerges and what further research is necessary.


Works dealing with the information needs and uses relevant to the creative activities of visual artists are discussed in the paper. These works are assessed for their contributions toward understanding of the specific information behaviors of practicing artists.


The results show that a consistent model of artists' information behavior emerges. However, nearly all of the literature focuses on art students, academic art faculty, or librarians, and so any claim that practicing artists fit the model is largely unsupported by research. There have been no published studies of communities of practicing visual artists. The implications of defining artists as communities of practice are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

Research is proposed that studies the information behavior of communities of practicing visual artists in order to confirm or amend the existing model.

Practical implications

Practitioners will have their attention drawn to an underserved user population whose information needs and behaviors have not been directly targeted for research. They will recognize the need for study of their own artist communities and the development of services for them.


This paper directs the discussion of artists' information behavior away from the art‐library‐specific literature, where it has largely resided, as a means of adjusting the focus of research onto the largely unstudied and underserved communities of practicing artists.



Hemmig, W.S. (2008), "The information‐seeking behavior of visual artists: a literature review", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 3, pp. 343-362.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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