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Online Art Marketing is Nothing New -- Part 3

by Brian Sherwin on 3/16/2012 9:02:13 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 18,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


The mainstream art market in the United States is one of the last markets, if you will, to embrace the full potential of the Internet (and it still has a LONG way to go). Contrary to recent mainstream art magazine hype -- key figures within the US art market have been slow to adapt to the concept of online art marketing / online art branding (so much so that the very idea of it seems "revolutionary" to some mainstream art dealers and art writers). In fact, one could suggest that key players within the mainstream art world have avoided the Internet in regard to online art marketing / online art branding -- and that today, in 2012, that avoidance is no longer a viable option. They are finally grasping what artists have known for over a decade -- having a strong online presence DOES matter.

 

I've been in this game long enough to remember the snarkfests that would ensue whenever anyone mentioned that the gallery world should embrace online art marketing / online art branding. I can recall some of the attitudes of art dealers, art curators and fellow art writers during Chelsea exhibit openings whenever the topic was brought up. If I wanted I could expose specific individuals who, just a few years ago, described both directions as "amateurish" (gotta love that little thing called Email) -- only to now write as if they have always supported those direction within the art market overall. Point blank -- I know people who thought they were above these directions... I remember the ignorance / arrogance of their words -- and their strict adherence to 'traditional models' of art marketing in general.

 

The proof of the ignorance / arrogance mentioned above can be found in the numbers -- the online numbers. As mentioned in Part 2, artists (specifically those without art gallery representation -- at least at the time) embraced the Internet during the early years -- they were the pioneers of online art marketing / online art branding -- and because of that... some of those artists have better traffic ranking today compared to websites representing the most influential art galleries in the world. The same can be said of hundreds of online art entrepreneurs and the online art services they provide. They broke free from the rules of the traditional art market.

 

Those early online art marketing / online art branding pioneers -- a mix of artists and online art entrepreneurs -- realized the importance of having a strong online presence for art -- they knew it would be the way of the future... and that future art collectors would embrace it as well. Unfortunately for the mainstream gallery world... most 'insiders' ridiculed those early pioneers. They scoffed at a concept that seems "revolutionary" to them today. I'm certain that many wish they had pursued online initiatives years ago. That 'bitter pill' has been hard to swallow for many within the mainstream art world -- the 'insiders' who can't stand the fact that a website like deviantART enjoys the popularity that it has. Those 'insiders' now accept change -- because they have no other choice if they wish to remain viable within a 'wired' society.

 

Why did this 'change' in perspective occur? Simple. I think the state of the economy forced the mainstream gallery world to reconsider the validity of online art marketing / online art branding. After all, brick and mortar art galleries tend to suffer when the economy is weak -- anyone who follows the art market knows that hundreds of art galleries have closed since 2008 alone. I don't want to say that the Internet could have saved specific art galleries from closing -- however, I do think the failure to adapt to online art marketing / online art branding (and strict adherence to traditional art marketing/branding in general) may have played a role in the closing of some of those art galleries -- most which had little to no online presence.

 

With the above in mind, that is why the hype from some mainstream art writers (and other mainstream 'insiders) concerning mainstream acceptance of online art marketing/branding has been so ridiculous in my opinion. Point blank -- if key figures within the mainstream art world accept online art marketing now... it is only because they have been forced -- by a changing culture/society -- to accept it. Remember, some of these individuals were content calling these online directions -- and the artists embracing them -- "amateurish" just a few years ago. That history -- real history -- should NOT be forgotten.

 

This is what I want to stress -- instead of pointing out the result of the mainstream gallery worlds error... we have 'insider' art writers (and other individuals from within the mainstream art world) attempting to use hype in order to re-write the history of online art marketing/branding -- their twisted version of the history places mainstream art dealers (specifically those located in NY) at the forefront... it is as if they don't want to acknowledge that artists spearheaded these directions over a decade ago. Many of those artists were denied by the mainstream art world back then -- and now mainstream art world 'insiders' are outright denying their place in the history of the development of these directions in general. That -- be it ignorance or arrogance -- annoys me.

 

I recently mentioned some of these issues on the BrushBuzz art forum. John Morris, of Digging Pitt fame, offered a few thoughts, stating, "I think a huge subtext here is that New York's traditional gallery scene is actually pretty troubled. Folks do OK selling famous artists on the secondary market, but the core base of smaller galleries that played such a big role are being pushed out.". He added, "Many collectors are conditioned to shop at art fairs- or now, online.". Fair enough -- I understand that the mainstream gallery world is having difficulty. However, I would like to see art writers, in general, 'get it right' when discussing online art marketing / online art branding. It should not be that hard to acknowledge that artists spearheaded these directions. Again, online art marketing is nothing new.

 

In closing, I suppose some mainstream art world 'insiders' are itching to claim what they once denied -- they see the future... and want to be part of it. The future is already here -- artists have been selling art online for over a decade... and have benefited from opportunities that would have never happened had the Internet not existed. These directions will continue to strengthen -- and artists will continue to have more control over the market for their work (so much so that in time, the role of the 'art dealer' -- as we have known it -- may be a thing of the past). That said, the origins of online art marketing should not be forgotten -- nor should it be forgotten that many within the mainstream art world scoffed at these online marketing directions... and at the artists who embraced them early on.

 

Take care, Stay true,

 

Brian Sherwin



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Related Posts:

Online Art Community: The pros and cons of online art groups

Selling Fine Art Online: FASO Mobile-friendly Artist Websites - the Future of Online Art Marketing is Now

Marketing Art On The Internet, Part 3

Online Art Marketing is Nothing New -- Part 1

Art and the Economy: Marketing art online is vital during an economic slump - take advantage of consumer traits and online behavior during a recession

Art Blogging 101: Focus on art

Art Blogging 101: Think locally / regionally when blogging about art

Online Art Marketing is Nothing New -- Part 2

Pricing Art Online: If you want to sell art you must list prices for your art

Art Websites and Selling Art Online

Art World Age of Discovery: Is it time to discover art off the beaten path in the United States?

Selling Fine Art Online: Be Prepared for the Art Collectors of Tomorrow

Artist Website Think Tank: What do you think art collectors want from an artist website?


Topics: art history | art marketing | Art World | Brian Sherwin | FineArtViews | selling art online | Think Tank 

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 52 Comments

Phil Kendall
via faso.com
Its so easy...swivel the chair and I'm here in the office of the studio and I'm on-line marketing my art.

Swivel the chair through 90 degrees and I'm painting again...

I'm not on the phone, I'm not spending a day out being driven to that art gallery...I'm not being ignored...

And unlike that gallery I'm still very much in business.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Perhaps the "New York Art Gallery" types did not/do not want get involved with the internet mostly for fear of losing control of their art (and more importantly, artists).
Check it out - I noticed early on that many artists at the top art galleries do not/did not usually have website of their own. Any web presence on the internet is handled through the gallery. (Wonder if it is their contract that they can not put up their own website?) If the buyers could go straight to the artist, this would cause a few problems with the single gallery that represents them.


Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Phil -- Swivel away my friend. :)

Charles -- That is exactly why they, in general, avoided it. I think some had hoped that the Internet would just be a fad (I know a lot of print art writers held on to that hope). There is no reason not to assume that when you consider the fact that for the longest time many NY galleries -- even some really notable ones -- did not take website design / presence all that seriously. Now, just like a few major art magazines, they are racing to catch up.

You are right. Some gallery contracts do demand a halt to online marketing/exposure. The gallery will suggest that exposure is part of the role of the gallery -- but that can be hard for an artist to swallow when you consider that the galleries online presence may be just a blip. Personally, I'd 'run' if an art dealer told me to halt online exposure... unless the gallery is a big, big, big deal (and even then I'd have to think about it if in that scenario).

I know artists who were asked to take down their website. I know artists who were asked to contact bloggers and other writers to remove interviews, reviews -- you name it. I remember a gallery contacted me years ago asking me to remove a review I did for Myartspace about the gallery... because that review showed up on the first page of Google searches of the gallery name. LOL

Some gallery owners still think that they can control content. Like it or not... you don't exist today if you fail to build a strong presence online -- that 'reality' is not going away. They should embrace the Internet. Period.

In my opinion, art galleries will need to rely more on Internet transactions in the future... as I've said, the art collectors of tomorrow are 'wired' today -- buying online will be a standard for them. (I'll add that in the future the museum world won't be able to deny huge public support for specific artists online). Thus, the gallery world needs to catch up OR hire people to handle that direction for them.

I'm certain that some NY 'insider' big shots desire to go down in history as the art dealers (and art writers for that matter) who spearheaded this shift (even though they are late to the game -- and once scoffed at those who adapted early). You can see that with the hype surrounding VIP Art Fair (I like it. I don't like the misleading hype)... it is often written about as being the 'first online art fair'... it wasn't the first.




Chaz
via faso.com
You got it right, Charles. They are afraid of losing collectors. They are afraid of the artist coming into his own.

Galleries have always been protective of their collector list. Now collectors are finding artists online. They are forming relationships minus the middleman.

Art dealers are having a rough time accepting that they are just that, middlemen. They have a purpose but that purpose is changing because of technology. It won't be the first profession forced to adapt to the Internet. Did they really think they could hold on to the biggest slice of the pie forever???

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Chaz -- "middleman" is a dirty word among art dealers. ;)

jack white
via faso.com
Brian,

We had our first websites built in 1995. That was 17 years ago. The first ones were slow and clumsy, but we had a presence. I tried to get jackwhite.com, but a realtor in Alaska had beat me to it. We jumped ahead of the Senkarik clan and locked up Senkarik.com.

I remember back then several top art galleries saying they were not going to carry any artists with a website. They were afraid clients would come to the artist, leaving them out.

Many did, but if they saw our work in the gallery we still paid them 50 percent commission. Even if they saw the art in the window we still paid the gallery. That's the ethical thing to do. We have to do right no matter what others might do.

Not all artists pay the commission, adding to the fears of the brick and mortar galleries who are paying nose bleed rent. I have a friend who owns a gallery in Vail, his base rent it $33,000 a month.

We like being in galleries, because of the new collectors added to our base. I suspect in a few years there will be very few brick and mortar galleries. Overhead is killing.

Also the cost of art insurance has risen. There are too many cases of "stolen" art, which was probably destroyed for the insurance.

We keep upgrading our sites and expanding our online marketing.

Jack

Jan
via faso.com
The one thing that online marketing or showing the work CANNOT do well is show scale. And, until we all have virtual reality glasses and are living in petri dishes like the people in the Matrix, that can't happen. I am thinking of sculptors and large scale painters, in particular, but this does have other applications. You CAN, however, give people a flavor of what the bulk of your portfolio is like, what style you do, media you work in and so forth. Even placing work within the contesxt of a room to give scale, while tha is a wonderful device, it can't substitute for the real deal.

jack white
via faso.com
Jan,
Take imaged of you with the art. When Mikki painted a 6'x9' grand manor we shot images of her with the blank canvas and then more with the finished piece.
There is also software that has a couch that you can place an image of your art over to show scale. I'm sure some of our smart readers can help you with that soft ware.
We did have a scale page on Mikki's website, but after our Webmaster almost died in a accident we removed the page.
I used to take an 35mm or my work using a tape measure to show how big it was. There are all kinds of visuals you can use.
Jack

Jan
via faso.com
Jack,
Yes presenting a scale in a photo is a good device. That's not the point. If you are selling an 8 foot by 8 foot painting, there is a scale that can ONLY be felt in person. You cannot get that over a computer screen. Human scale on an iphone can't happen. Perhaps this issue is not pertinent to a lot of artists, but for lets say large sale abstract expressionists, it is. Think about looking at a photo of a Rothko in a book and then seeing one in real life at a museum. For instance.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Jan -- you said, "Even placing work within the context of a room to give scale, while that is a wonderful device, it can't substitute for the real deal." I understand where you are coming from (and I will add that Jack offered some good tips on that). That said, how many artists have actually benefited from the 'real deal' within brick and mortar gallery spaces? Not many overall.

Let us be honest with ourselves... how many artists have actually exhibited at a brick and mortar gallery? Again, not many compared to the number creating today. How many have actually exhibited at one with significance? Very, very few. How many have maintained gallery representation for decades at a time? Again, few... if you think of the numbers working today.

With the above in mind -- that is why, in my opinion, the Internet is such a powerful tool for artists... it offers opportunity when the traditional model, if you will, might as well be like slamming face first into a brick wall. That is where the value of it is. Opportunity where otherwise there may be none.

It is powerful. I know of artists who were able to attract the attention of galleries due to their online presence / following... or due to press received online. That attention would have never happened prior to the Internet.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE brick and mortar galleries. I hope they do survive. It would be great if more could find ways to mesh the best of both worlds.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Jack -- as you imply... integrity is important. I 'get' why galleries are wary of side deals happening. That said, some also fear online press -- and online exposure in general. They don't want the artist gaining exposure unless that exposure is directly related to the gallery. I think that is foolish.

The represented artist needs to think beyond said representation... it may not last forever. Art galleries should understand that. If the owner cares about the artist -- believes in his or her work -- he or she should understand that the artist will have an ongoing-career with or without the gallery. Anything less is like saying, "You only exist because of us". I don't like the whole 'controlled content' mentality that some gallery owners have.

Donald Fox
via faso.com
There are limitations in showing scale in any medium except in person. Print ads didn't do any better than websites. A photograph of a piece in situ can help or with various scale devices as Jack suggested. But, what the internet does do is give exposure on a grand scale, much bigger than anything print media could do, AND the internet is instantaneous. The image goes worldwide as soon as it's put up. I think Brian's main point here, though, is with the attempted re-write of events and certain unnamed parties trying to take credit for what many artists did first. This rip-off of ideas has been rampant in politics for generations. It's also the reason behind copyright and patent laws. You can patent a product or copyright a publication, but you can't protect an idea unless it's in a palpable form. Written history has its uses, so Brian you're being the historian on this topic.

tom weinkle
via faso.com
Brian,

I really enjoyed this article. It reminded me of Richard Florida's notion of the Creative Class.

Here in Miami, due credit was only recently given for the redevelopment of South Beach. It was innovators (not just artists), addressing challenges and problems that put South Beach and now the Wynwood region on the map. Mainstream developers and real estate investors jumped in, and profited after someone else turned the light on. Our society generally likes to place laurels on those who seem smart rather than those who have vision.

I'm not taking anything away from the developers, but as you may be suggesting, it's the innovators who should also be acknowledged in our society.... not just the ones who profit or are in the limelight.

It was inevitable that artists embraced online marketing before galleries would. There were so more artists than galleries and still are, every artist has to question the appropriate balance of energies going into finding a gallery vs. doing their own marketing online.

It seems to me that online marketing opens up a much bigger world for artists who don't happen to do regionally-based work. Online marketing of art has resulted is more choice for consumers. The originators should get more credit.


Thank you for writing a great post.

Marian Fortunati
via faso.com
I loved the discussion following the posts... all with a slightly different "take" to comment on.

Isn't the variety that we each bring to the table a wonderful thing?

Don't you wonder how all of these ideas will evolve? ...to the benefit of some of us and to the detriment of others of us. It's the way it is.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Donald -- I like that they (high profile art dealers / organizers) are exploring it more seriously now... I would just like to see these writers tip a hat to artists. It may not matter to some... but there is a history here -- and it should be presented correctly in my opinion. Reading some of these articles one would think that VIP Art Fair came up with the concept of marketing art online. We all know that is false.

Tom -- Thanks for sharing. You are correct... people (at least from the New York side of it) were very skeptical of Wynwood. There is a lot of history there as well... with Miami in regard to the US art market overall. I don't want to come off as if I'm picking on the New York art/gallery scene -- but it does appear that they often try to claim every advancement within art and the market overall.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Donald -- Another thing that is great about that instant exposure is that the public ends up involved... in a way that does not involve some of the hardline influences associated with the mainstream gallery/museum world.

When the public has access to a wide range of art -- and in a way that is not influenced by ad sales, high profile elbow-rubbing or what have you -- it brings with it a 'real' look into what the public, right now, desires in art. It is art appreciation without the conditioning of dollar signs, if you will.

Now I know some will disagree with that -- or warn that the general public is not 'informed' enough to know what 'good' art is. That said, I'm sure we can all think of 'bad' art that has been praised by the mainstream. It all boils down to opinion... and the Internet allows opinion to rule.

What happens when the public acknowledges art that is ignored by the gallery / museum world? What happens when it is clear that the public, overall, ignores the art celebrated by those circles? One could suggest that art history is branching out in two major directions -- one that is still shaped rigidly by ad sales and high profile connections... the other, more fluid -- more apt to represent the spirit of our times behind market values, if you will.

I'm ranting. We are living history.

Lisa McDill
via faso.com
History has always been story telling for a particular viewpoint or reason. Nice to have multiple viewpoints (including the public and not just the powers that be) to get a better picture.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Brian - However, the bottom line problem is that for most less-known artists no matter how good the website (or art)is that 98 percent of the people coming to the artist's website are just other artists, art students or wannabe artists. Few visitors to artist websites are art buyers or collectors.

This is where the brick and mortar gallery has a big advantage - they have a rolodex full of art contacts, buyers, gallery visitors and influential art people that the individual artist does not have.
The smart, saavy gallery that can use the internet should be able to grow even more in the internet world.
I have an okay presence on the internet, but I am always looking for more and better gallery representation - that works the best.
Many art buyers feel very comfortable buying through an art gallery. They like it that the gallery has separated the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Look at the online art shop Etsy - there are currently over 1,000,000 items for sale listed as art. Who has the time or the patience to slog through all that to find some art they want to buy?
Plus most people feel uncomfortable spending mega-$$$$ on art based on small jpeg digital photo on a web page - (hence the average selling price of an item on Etsy is about $17).

Andy Mercer
via faso.com
The truth was that many galleries and dealers wanted you to choose between online marketing or gallery representation.

I argued strongly at the time that this was a misguided position. The internet was here and we had all better get used to working with it.

I quite like the title of "Pioneer internet artist" ;)

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Andy - I think for many galleries the internet was (and still is for many) a mystery and an extra cost for them.
When I first put up my website in the early 90's I had quite a bit of resistance from galleries, but as I explained to them the new situation they accepted and finally embraced the internet.

The high-end New York type galleries with their $100,000 and up paintings are in a different (art) world. They have different rules, different ways of working (such as they buy all their art before the show opens, say the show sold out and then try to sell it at a higher price in the secondary market)...but I see them now seeing how the internet can work for them, not against them. Good for them.
The history discussion of who was first...well...not sure that it matters. Most likely none of us early adopters will ever be considered in a art history book.

Phil Kendall
via faso.com
Charles: Put simply the bricks and mortar art galleried are dead, they are closed, and their contact lists are a useless reminder of what was.

Katarzyna Lappin
via faso.com
Hi Brian,

It is always so good to read your posts. From my short experience,there was a gallery I always wanted to have my art in. When I started my art business I contacted this gallery to ask for an appointment. The owner accepted the quality of my works, under one condition, no website presence, no self marketing. I said: "thank you". This was a conflict of interests. I am not the type of an artist who would rather stay in the studio all the time. I like interaction, management and marketing, so taking it away from me would be pretty frustrating. I love the idea of placing my art in galleries, I don't see a problem to pay the galleries 40 or 50 percent commission if they sell my art. It is great to be connected to art groups and organizations, being part of events, meet new people. I love what the internet offers to spread the word. It helps to stay in touch with the subscribers, and I can't imagine my art business without the web. From my three years old (so short) experience I can see that the sales do not come directly through the website except one case. All other sales always came through shows, community events, commissions or art fairs. It takes a lot of hard work (including the physical one) to sell art or to build the fan list. It is not just a website presence. If I would rely on my website only I wouldn't have funds for my Golden Membership. I have to get my art to the real world, always with the guest book and that is how my mailing list is growing. Maybe very well established artists have this luxury of just posting their work, writing few blogs and newsletters and this is all they have to do to sell or to build the e-mail list. I am just one of many small scale emerging artists in CA but have a feeling that's there is much more involved to sell your art than a web presence. As everything in life it is a combination of many important factors.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles Kaufman -- you said, "Few visitors to artist websites are art buyers or collectors.".

There is no way to know that for each and every artist. I know an artist like Chet Zar can experience sold out prints using just his website and social networking. He clearly has a collector base among his site visitors / social networking followers.

You said, "This is where the brick and mortar gallery has a big advantage - they have a rolodex full of art contacts, buyers, gallery visitors and influential art people that the individual artist does not have."

But the individual artist CAN establish the same. That is why you see art dealers, demanding in contract, that artists take down their website or what have you. They know that it is possible for the artist to stand on his or her own with established contacts. I predict that will be more of a standard in the future.

In response to Andy, you said, "The history discussion of who was first...well...not sure that it matters. Most likely none of us early adopters will ever be considered in a art history book."

You forget that with the Internet -- with open public discussion -- we can challenge those history books in a way that simply was not possible in the past.


Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Katarzyna Lappin -- You said, "I am just one of many small scale emerging artists in CA but have a feeling that's there is much more involved to sell your art than a web presence. As everything in life it is a combination of many important factors."

And I agree -- there are other factors, even traditional ones, to consider. That said, the role of the brick and mortar gallery is changing. There is no question about that. Furthermore, the artist today does have more opportunity (again, thanks to the Internet) to seek alternative physical spaces for exhibit.

I don't want to see brick and mortar galleries vanish. I'm simply saying that the role of 'the art dealer' is changing... and will continue to do so. Trust me, the 'wired' art collectors of the near future will want to see 100 percent of profit going to the artist they admire... as much as possible.

I'll add that if brick and mortar art galleries do become a thing of the past... the big art fairs will likely still exist... catering specifically to the individual artist instead of dealers. Food for thought.

The art galleries need to find a way to adapt... and do it now.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
The artist Chet Zar is not the best example. (Great talent, though!) The man was famous before his internet art presence got going. He is/was a special effects make up artist, designer and sculptor for the motion picture industry, designing and creating creatures and make up effects effects for such films as, "The Ring", "Hellboy I and II", "Planet of the Apes". (Plus it helped to be the stepson of the known fantasy artist James Zar - http://www.jameszar.com/ )
Quite successful and well-known before he started his art web appearance and had a big fan following.
He is using the internet quite well to promote his art. And his art has been/is exhibited in several art galleries.

The average artist is not in the same category as the very popular Mr. Zar.

-----------------
You write: "But the individual artist CAN establish the same."
Anything is possible, but it is very difficult to do with just a website, Facebook and Twitter.

Regarding your feeling that more galleries will demand artists take down their websites. I doubt it.
Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are only represented by one gallery worldwide.

Things are changing.
Even at the high end galleries, artists are "breaking free" and having their own websites.
Gagosian is the top gallery in the world. http://www.gagosian.com/
His artists: Urs Fischer http://www.ursfischer.com/images , Damien Hirst www.damienhirst.com/ , Jo Baer www.jobaer.net/ , Georg Baselitz http://www.georgbaselitz.com/ and others all now have their own websites.

There are ways for galleries and artists to work together using the internet to sell the artist's work.

I see it going the other way with more galleries working more with artists websites. Once they see how it works, they are all for it. For example, on my website I promote the galleries I am in. And it works. Galleries tell me all the time that people came to their gallery because they saw their address on my website.

------
Regarding the art internet history on who were the early adopters....well, when I see my early website attempts included in some art history article about the internet I will believe it. :-)

Donald Fox
via faso.com
I agree that we are living history, and I think that there has been a split between 'mainstream' and 'popular' for far longer than the existence of the internet. Art News and Artforum catered to very different audiences since their inception. I'd suggest that the two directions you mentioned are continuations of what has been for a long time - the mainstream, heavy ads, elite galleries and museums, etc. and the internet (populism) really an extension of local networking from art leagues and other neighborhood/civic groups. Now the latter has a unifying force via the internet. Just 20 minutes surfing the web and anyone can find hundreds if not thousands of really good artists with local/regional affiliations that today are available worldwide. That's pretty awesome. There's probably several PhD's worth of social research available here.

jack white
via faso.com
Charles,
I think we are past the galleries demanding artist not have websites. That doesn't mean they are not fearful artist will make sales behind their back. People see work in the gallery and go to the artist for a better deal. The artist tells the gallery they need the painting for some reason, then close the sale cutting the gallery out of the loop.

This happens all too often. One corrupt artist can destroy a lot of gallery trust.

The moral thing to do is pay the gallery if people see your art in their store. Without the gallery they would not have discovered the art.
Jack

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Jack - I think a combination of artist and art gallery (both with internet sites and other Social Networking) is a great combination.
I happily nudge art collector's to the nearest gallery handling my art to purchase or order the art.
Seeing art in real (versus a small photo on the internet) is the best seller of art. The more brick and mortar venues my art is in, the better.
Many a times I have sold art to people in far away countries who saw my art at a wine show, hotel or other non-gallery venue and then contact me later (2-3 years is not unusual) wanting to buy some of my art. Once they have seen the art hanging on a wall, they are very comfortable buying over the internet.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles Kaufman -- I know Chet. Thus, I know what the Internet has done for him. My point is that Chet has shown that he can do well with or without gallery representation. People from all walks of life buy his prints and shirts. He also offers paintings and studies on eBay. His collectors are not just Hollywood types.

You said, "Regarding your feeling that more galleries will demand artists take down their websites. I doubt it."

Some galleries made those demands during the early years of the Internet as we know it. They are starting to do it again. Believe it or not, I've been contacted by artists I've interviewed in the past asking me to take down the online version. They asked because a gallery demanded it -- and also demanded they halt self-promotion via social networking AND halt activity OR remove their website. There is a fear of the Internet among some art dealers. I'll go further by suggesting that there is a fear of what artists can do on their own.

You said, "Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are only represented by one gallery worldwide."

Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are represented by a gallery. Period.

You said, "Even at the high end galleries, artists are "breaking free" and having their own websites."

True. That said, when Damien Hirst -- and others -- launched New Criteria, some within the mainstream art world / market thought it was the end of the world. Blasphemy.

You said, "There are ways for galleries and artists to work together using the internet to sell the artist's work."

I agree. I would like to see that direction explored more. In fact, I'd like to see brick and mortars continue doing what they are doing while also representing other artists online. It just makes business sense to me.


Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Donald -- You are correct. I suppose my point is that the public has more of a say now concerning art... and what we say can't be denied. Debate about art today is 'loud' compared to the past... it goes far beyond the printed page.

I also think that people -- at least those seriously interested in art -- are starting to realize just how much ad sales of old (and they still do) influence the direction of print art magazines (and now some art blogs -- which is ironic because most early art bloggers railed against the influence of ad sales) which influences other aspects of how art is documented.

Art history, as documented by major art magazines, is extremely deceptive. Now that the general public has a 'voice'... it may be difficult for a select few to 'tell us how it is' when we know a different side of our visual story, if you will. Welcome to the democratization of art. :)

You said, "There's probably several PhD's worth of social research available here.". TRUE.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Jack -- You said, "This happens all too often. One corrupt artist can destroy a lot of gallery trust."

That is a double-edged sword. One corrupt gallery can be blight on the image of art dealers in general.

You said, "The moral thing to do is pay the gallery if people see your art in their store. Without the gallery they would not have discovered the art."

Integrity is important. That said, one thing I think galleries should do is offer some form of online store on their websites (in the same way that artists have) -- and in a way that can be connected to the artist website. Thus, they will get their cut (perhaps even handle the transaction from the artists website) -- and their affiliation, if you will, is like a stamp of approval for the artist website overall. Just a thought.

These are things that should of -- could of -- been done years ago by the majority of art galleries. Honestly, I've seen more mom and pop galleries -- specifically those in small communities -- embrace the Internet and eCommerce compared to larger galleries located in art world hot spots. That, in my opinion, is mind blowing.



Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Brian, you write:
"Some galleries made those demands during the early years of the Internet as we know it. They are starting to do it again. Believe it or not, I've been contacted by artists I've interviewed in the past asking me to take down the online version."

So name names, write an article and call out the galleries doing it and point out the error of their ways.

You say: "There is a fear of the Internet among some art dealers."

Perhaps you could write an article about them and name them.
Also I think that is quickly changing. From my day-to-day contact with the gallery world it is now more a cost factor than anything else as to whether they are on the internet. They feel they are being ripped off by web site makers and the cost to update the website is too much.

You write: "I'll go further by suggesting that there is a fear of what artists can do on their own. "
I don't know about that. I would call it more ignorance of the internet, web sites, social networking, etc by galleries for the most part.
For 99.5 percent of galleries their customer base is what walks in the door each day...plus a few other clients. They have a hard enough time selling to that, plus run their own business to have time to chase after phantom customers in the internet. (And much of their revenue comes from frame sales, not art.)

Keep in mind that many artists are in several galleries.
It is not just galleries worrying about artists and their websites, it is more that galleries are worrying about other galleries taking their business with gallery web sites.
-----------------
You give the example of Chet Zar, but he is the rare exception. Contact the hundreds of thousands of artists selling their art on Etsy and see how little they sell. (Keep in mind the average selling price of an item on Etsy is around $17. What gallery would want to fill their gallery with something that low in price?)

You say: "Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are represented by a gallery. Period."
- Is that a negative or a positive reply?
I am sure every artist would love to have a chain galleries with just their art in it - ala Thomas Kinkaide.

You write: "Art history, as documented by major art magazines, is extremely deceptive."
- Can you give us some examples?

You write: "...one thing I think galleries should do is offer some form of online store on their websites..."
- Not necessarily a good idea.
Say for example: Gallery A, who represents the artist in Los Angeles, does not sell art via the internet AND is upset that Gallery B, who represents the artist in Miami, is NOW selling his art via the web.
Gallery A says to the artist: "If Gallery B is now openly selling your art world wide via a web shop, then I guess I can no longer have you in my gallery."

The bigger problem for galleries is gallery vs. gallery in the internet...



Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles -- You said, "So name names, write an article and call out the galleries doing it and point out the error of their ways."

Been there, done that -- during my Myartspace days. Look it up. That said, I found out real fast that if I call out a gallery after an artist contacts me in that way -- the artist ends up in the fire. I'm not in the business of hampering the career of artists who come to me in confidence. (Note: most of those dealers 'got it' after talking with me. I never removed an interview based on a gallery request).

As for Myartspace -- I worked in customer support as well... and I can tell you that some galleries did contact us asking that artist profiles be removed. Point blank -- they felt threatened since we offered an eCommerce platform. They thought they were going to get 'cheated'... even though those specific artists were not signed up for that aspect of the site.

As it stands -- we have Katarzyna Lappin and Andy Mercer both sharing experiences of that nature on this comment thread. As for the past, did you not say yourself, "When I first put up my website in the early 90's I had quite a bit of resistance from galleries". Name those galleries. ;p

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles -- Personally, I'm not that 'big' on eBay or Etsy. It was not my intention to imply that those routes are good routes. That is not to suggest that they can't be. Jack has shown that they can be.

My overall point is that artists CAN establish online relationships with collectors that develop into sold artwork, as well as 'real' interaction. The gallery client list was once the Holy Grail... now, with the Internet, artists are more apt to build upon their own client list. That, my friend, is something that some art dealers DO fear.

Which goes back to the idea that galleries may not survive if they don't find a way to adapt... and adapting does not mean 'if we represent you, you must halt ALL individual online exposure'. Artists won't stand for that. I don't think future art collector will either.

You said, "You say: "Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are represented by a gallery. Period." - Is that a negative or a positive reply? I am sure every artist would love to have a chain galleries with just their art in it - ala Thomas Kinkaide."

That was in response to you saying, "Very few artists are in an arrangement where they are only represented by one gallery worldwide." You appeared to be implying that represented artists are apt to be represented by several galleries -- not just one. That may be true. However, if you have not noticed... very few artists are represented by a gallery. Period. Just pointing out a fact.

You said, "You write: "Art history, as documented by major art magazines, is extremely deceptive."
- Can you give us some examples?"

I said that concerning the influence of ad sales on print art magazines. If you have missed out on that long-standing debate / criticism of art magazines, in general, I fail to see how... I'm in no way the first to suggest that. Art in America and ARTnews have both been called out, or questioned, for it. Art blogs have as well -- ranging from Hyperallergic to some aspects of ARTINFO.



Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles -- You said, "Say for example: Gallery A, who represents the artist in Los Angeles, does not sell art via the internet AND is upset that Gallery B, who represents the artist in Miami, is NOW selling his art via the web.

Gallery A says to the artist: "If Gallery B is now openly selling your art world wide via a web shop, then I guess I can no longer have you in my gallery."

So be it. The artist would have to decide which gallery is more of a benefit. My money is on the gallery exploring eCommerce -- because that most likely means the dealer takes online promotion, in general, serious as well. That kind of promotion can benefit the artist long after he or she has left the gallery.

You said, "The bigger problem for galleries is gallery vs. gallery in the internet..."

So be it. Let them battle it out... and let us see 10 years from now which direction dominates. Future art collectors will expect art galleries to be 'wired'... just as people today generally expect an artist to have an online presence.




Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Everyone - I'll add this... art studios would continue to exist (in other words, artists would still be creating art)-- and art would continue to be sold by individual artists -- even if brick and mortar art galleries become a 'thing' of the past. Anyone want to disagree with that?

tom weinkle
via faso.com
Brian,

I'm with you on all your recent comments. Companies who try to maintain a tight grip on the marketplace without adapting to consumer needs rarely survive. Galleries demanding artists shut down their sites is silly. Demanding that artists support their efforts, work with them to present the right image and brand is another thing.

There are hundreds of examples of this reality in every industry you can imagine.

Online marketing is a consumer need. Every artist can decide to fill the need or not, working with their gallery or not, and live with the consequences.

I too respect gallery owners and service they provide. I want to see them succeed, because it helps all of us.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Brian you wrote: " "When I first put up my website in the early 90's I had quite a bit of resistance from galleries". Name those galleries. ;p "

No problem:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=enandie=UTF8andoe=UTF8andmsa=0andmsid=105914028935332923050.00048165d85ec7de9346dandll=50.247224,9.976779andspn=4.507513,6.678695andsource=embed

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Maybe that link is not working so well, try this:
http://goo.gl/w22sr

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Brian: "Anyone want to disagree with that?"

Yes.
Like saying that if all car dealers went away people would still buy as many cars, or if all fast food restaurants went away people would get their burgers via home delivery.
Like saying that movies theaters would disappear if TV was invented.
Art Galleries will always be with us.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Brian - Example: Apple computer used to only sell via the internet. There was a reason that Apple computer has built a chain of stores around the world.
Just like people want to see art in person, people want to touch that new Apple computer, iPad or iphone before they buy it.

jack white
via faso.com
Brian,
We have had our share of crooked art galleries. Just because some galleries are thieves doesn't mean we need to do the same.
Once in Key West the gallery director cleaned out the funds and flew his young lover to South America. We lost $14k. The gallery owner lost everything.
In Napa Valley a gallery that had been paying us over $100,000 a year and a few years $200k closed in the middle of the night taking $25K of our money. We had been with his gallery 12 years. He was later arrested and is serving five years in jail.
Them being slime doesn't give us permission to do the same. We have to honor out obligation no matter what some rogue gallery does.
The Internet didn't make artists cheat, it exposed them,
jack

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Jack - Speaking of the internet and art cheats; I read an article recently about an artist that was convicted for art fraud - creating fake paintings of old masters.
He said with the internet it is becoming nearly impossible to make fakes because so much art is documented and available on the internet; any art created after WWII he said forget trying to make fakes, the internet makes it quite difficult to fool many people.
(But some still are!)

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles -- You said, "Like saying that movies theaters would disappear if TV was invented.
Art Galleries will always be with us."

Movie theaters are hurting because of the Internet. That market shift has been trending for years now. Some companies allow you to watch a movie, online -- and legally, while it is still in theaters. Don't take my word for it... subscribe to Entertainment Weekly. People once thought brick and mortar movie rental stores would always been around as well... not so much these days. Times change. Markets change. Consumers change. ;p

I do hope that art galleries will still be with us in the future. That said, if they are still with us years from now -- it will involve adaption. Trust me on this.

Look at how the big art fairs were once scoffed at by 'gallerists' in general, now they are a market reality that the galleries are scrambling to keep up with. If you are not able to get into some of those fairs, well... in some circles your gallery does not exist. The irony being, that artists have long faced that mentality -- in some circles -- concerning gallery representation.

Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Jack, you said, "We have had our share of crooked art galleries. Just because some galleries are thieves doesn't mean we need to do the same."

I was not suggesting that artists should cheat the galleries representing them. Just pointing out that artists are not the only people capable of being the 'bad guys' in this business. :)


Brian Sherwin
via faso.com
Charles -- is that the same art forger with the book/movie deal in the works? Can't remember his name off hand -- but it he mostly targeted Dali (easy target).

Art forgers are targeting lesser known artists more frequently. That is another reason why it is important to have a strong online presence. In my opinion, that goes for art galleries as well.

I know of two online companies offering print-on-demand that have been closed in the last year alone due to being exposed for offering prints without permission from artists. In both cases, the fraud was discovered because someone noticed an artist they recognized from social networking (Facebook, Twitter) on the site... and asked them about it.

Phil Kendall
via faso.com
Charles perhaps needs to get a life...I watch TV daily...browse/use the internet daily...

The last cinema visit was two years ago...

My nearest surviving art gallery is about 40 miles away [long distance by UK standards!]..

My local museum has, well some sort of, very static art collection...

Nyla Witmore
via faso.com
Two comments:
ABOUT CLIENTS WHO BOUGHT MY WORK IN A GALLERY AND THEN CONTACT ME THROUGH MY WEBSITE....
First, I always ask the client where they saw my work. If it is from one of the galleries that represents me, I respond to their email and provide a cc: to my gallery so they know that my ethics and actions will always honor their representation of me. I tell the client that I always work through the gallery where they purchased my work and thank them for contacting me so that we can hold a dialogue on paintings and their needs, paintings not currently in that gallery but which are still available, and could be sent to the gallery for them to personally see and purchase.

I PERIODICALLY SUGGEST THAT THE GALLERY LOOK AT MY WEBSITE. They might find something else there that they want to have in the gallery that i might not have thought they would be interested in. My galleries tend to "order" more paintings to show because of this.

WHEN DROP BY A PROSEPECTIVE GALLERY, if the owner has a few moments, let them see your work. Sometimes that is enough to have them ask you to bring in some work.

Charles Kaufman
via faso.com
Phil says: "Charles perhaps needs to get a life..."

Reply: LOL! Yep, maybe I spend too much time painting! :-)
If you get a chance, Phil, I invite you to explore my art websites. Here is one:
http://www.charleskaufman.com/
I definitely need to spend more time marketing my art.
-----------------

Phil says: "My nearest surviving art gallery is about 40 miles away [long distance by UK standards!].."

Reply: In the internet age, galleries and art collectors can be any where in the world. Phil, 99 percent of the galleries that exhibit my art and art customers I have are more than 40 miles away from where I live...many are thousands of miles away. Thank goodness for the internet! :-)

Regarding the UK art scene, London has many, many thriving art galleries; plus great art museums and art fairs such as: the London Art Fair, the Affordable art fair, Frieze art fair and many more.
I wish I had more time to visit the London area more often to find new venues to exhibit my art.
Phil, can you recommend any?

jack white
via faso.com
Phil,
We have been to maybe two movies in the past three years. We saw War Horse and Sea Biscuit. It's not safe for me to be in crowds, because my blood numbers are low. I might catch some disease.I'm on peritoneal dialysis and subject to infection.

We rely on TIVO and a 57" HDTV.

Mikki and I love sports. We watched the Baylor Girls go undefeated to win the Final Four last night. In the daytime, I write books and she paints. At night I read research books and listen to Fox News TV the background. We also watch sports at night. Mikki does her blog and I study.

A couple times a day I read The Drudge Report, Daily Caller,The Blaze and Free Beacon.

Maybe Charles doesn't care for movies. We have a new movie with old time big leather seats fairly close, $4 afternoon tickets and the best popcorn in San Antonio. HD screen and great sound. There are a few things that need to be seen on the big screen, but so many see in our home. NetFlix keeps us in the movies we want to see.

By the way our major art gallery is 750 miles away. One is 850 and a third is 1,100 miles. Only one is within a 100 miles.
Jack










 

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