Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.
I enjoy reading books by Seth Godin - they encourage and energize my thinking and doing, especially where my career is concerned. Last week, I ordered his book, Ideavirus and downloaded it through my Kindle reader. It was written several years ago, and although the ideas he presents are still totally valid, several the companies that he uses as examples are passe - out of business. When he mentioned MCI friends and family plans, I realized that they didn't foresee the popularity of cell phones over landlines. Companies like Verizon began offering free calling to other Verizon customers with their cell phone plans.
Seth also mentions a new company (back then) where families could download their photos and others could sign up and see these photos and order printouts online. Seth was saying this was a great idea and it was. Then a couple of college students thought up Facebook and it changed the world. Now everyone can see what everyone else is doing, for free. I can log on and see what my cousins and second cousins are doing - in pictures through Facebook. I don't need to go to a high school reunion to know what my dear friends are up to.
My husband and I were watching a movie made in the late 80's. Oh, how the world of technology has changed the plot of movies. Crimes are not solved in the same way. If only they could trace their cell phone calls and track exactly where the call was made from satellite... the movie could have been a lot shorter. It's almost frustrating to see how slowly the adventure unfolds because of the lack of technology. Sure, there will also be the classics - Casablanca. It took place in a known historical time with people whose emotions we can identify with. Many other movies and TV shows (like Knight Rider - seem outdated and silly).
So why do I bring all this up and what does it have to do with art marketing? Before I give you my answer, I want to say that I have no prophetic powers, but I notice trends and I've had a decent track record of figuring out what's going to happen in the near future by my own conjecture. (Hey, I don't know if conjecture is the right word, but you hopefully get the idea).
So here goes: I believe that the way art is marketed and collected is going to drastically change during the next decade. This will most likely be good news for individual artists. It will make the gallery and art dealers' jobs more difficult. Seth Godin just announced that he doesn't need book publishing companies anymore. He explains that his client used to be the book publisher - he was basically writing for them and in turn, the publisher sold to readers. Today, Seth just writes for his new clients - his readers.
In the same way, galleries face the same challenge that book publishing companies, newspapers, recording companies and other "promoters of talent" are facing. Through new technology, the masses have access online to practically anything they need, and most of the time it is free. Individuals are defining their tastes without the help of the consultant. If it's happening in all these other industries, what's to keep it happening in the art collecting industry?
I BELIEVE THERE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A PLACE AND REASON FOR ART GALLERIES TO EXIST. But, I think their role is going to change - and is already changing. Savvy gallery owners will see the writing on the wall, so to speak, and open their eyes to change. Here's the main change I see taking place. Galleries will act less like Venus fly-traps - waiting for collectors to drop by and get caught up by a painting or two... instead they will court artists and hold special events. These will be one time shows where artists will show their very best works and this will bring out some serious collectors. Less and less, artists will join a gallery's "stable". Artists will work more like independent contractors. The most famous artists will get invitations to the most elaborate events.
I'm not including resort galleries here. They will sell images of the area to tourists and wealthy people who have homes in the region. Now, I don't want you non-world famous artists to get discouraged. On the horizon, a collecting trend is just starting to heat up - one that will definitely benefit mid-range artists (like me).
I wish I could present here, the pages and pages of my hand written notes I've been scratching down. It will take many blogs to share all my thoughts. I'll leave you with this: Artists who think out of the box and are one step ahead of the trends will do well. Get accustomed to change; be vigilant. The good news: For the first time in history, I see that art collecting (defining our individual tastes) will become vogue for the middle classes. It's happening now in every other form of the arts... especially music. In the next decade, I suspect collecting of original art will become so popular that people will show off their art collections - like they do their granite counter tops. Although, the granite will go out of style before the art collection does.
Get ready for a new adventure artists. Art collecting is about to get very hot - I can feel it in my bones.