How The Art Business is Changing – 2019Matthew Moore
Before the age of social media, if you wanted to buy original work from an emerging or renowned artist, you had to go to a gallery. While the same principal is followed by many today, over the past decade the online world has dramatically changed things. Today we’re steadily seeing artists become more independent. We’re also seeing more artwork gradually sold online each year. In 2018 mobile phone art sales rose by 20% with the majority of buyers citing Instagram as their top choice. Using social media artists are now in a way becoming… their own gallery.
Let’s take a moment to think why an artist would even consider doing this? If you don’t know how the gallery business works, let’s get you up to speed. The majority of every art gallery takes a 50% cut when a transaction occurs. This has been the industry standard for decades. So the most an artist can get is half of the value of their artwork. Chicago artist Hebru Brantley spoke briefly on this subject in an interview on the Breakfast Club : “Unless you’re dealing with a higher tier gallery, selling work for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It really doesn’t make sense to give away half of what your blood sweat and tears is. Especially now when you have social media”
The gallery industry has been the forefront for helping artists grow. However, times are changing and artists now have more flexibility with how they do business. Seeing all the corporate terms & conditions bestowed on artists was the reason why we created Artist Replete in the first place.
The interaction that creatives have with traditional galleries can be both positive and negative. To really understand the current state of the industry, we spoke directly to a few artists.
” I’ve never approached any traditional galleries. I’m definitely open to it in the future though. Creating new work and marketing it as an independent artist gets exhausting over time. I do it because I’ve wanted to create work as I please. If I was involved with a normal gallery, I think I would’ve been siloed into a singular style. Instead of continuing to evolve it over the years. While selling art is a necessary step in the creative process, a corporate agreement for creativity also feels like spiritual prostitution to be honest. I want the right partner ( be it a gallery, agent or both) that allows me the space to create art for the one purpose I began painting for: spiritual catharsis.”
” When you’re an emerging artist, some galleries will try to have you go in a direction with your work that they feel is more sell-able. This makes it hard to create your own true original style. At least that’s how it’s been for me. I’ve reached out to galleries in the past and never really heard much back. Then one day I was contacted from Huffington Post about my art. That’s when I knew that working with a brick and mortar location wasn’t significant for my success. “
“Galleries are great for shows but when you’re a new artist it’s very tough. They take a lot of money from the sales. I’ve worked with a few galleries and I just have more fun working online now. Social media really has changed the game.”
“I think with the advent of social media, the buyer has more access to the artist. This can eliminate the need for the neighborhood gallery and it’s sometimes oversaturated commissions”