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Does The Internet Damage Or Promote The Art Industry?

Whether we are accepting of it or not, we are heavily in the age of the internet. I think we rely on it more than we realise in our everyday lives and I don’t know whether this is a good or a bad thing. We have a question: we automatically look it up on the net, whereas once upon a time a lot more thought and research probably would have gone into it. I’m very much an art follower, and I often wonder whether the internet is really a good or a bad thing for the industry today; especially for the artists themselves. Does the internet damage or promote the art industry? It has become a lot more popular and common to sell art online, I perceive this as a market having to change with the times but just like with any business, there are advantages and disadvantages:

Costs

ADVANTAGES 

It is extremely cost effective to sell online:

  • No costly exhibition spaces – Gallery spaces are expensive not only in monetary values but also in time

Hiring a gallery or a section of one is not possible for every artist. They are not all able to afford the space, which can often be the reason why they are not able to put their art into an exhibition in the first place. An online platform is therefore cheaper and can make all the difference

  • Selling online can offer you a higher return from your artwork

This directly links back from the costs saved on gallery space. You are not paying a high margin to the gallery or exhibition by selling online. Galleries will often take a portion in commission on what you sell, or even ask for a flat rate which will not differ with the number of pieces you sell.

  • Online sales mean no staff costs

There are no staff costs from this or hospitality costs i.e. food and drink provided to visitors. They take care of that in the comfort of their own home.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Your sales don’t match your online costs

It’s easy to say that it is cheaper to sell online, but be careful: If you are a little known artist and your marketing is not up to scratch, you could make less than what you are paying. It isn’t all plain sailing, don’t sit back and hope that search engines will bring people to your site.

Time 

ADVANTAGES 

Your time is better spent selling online:

  • Setting up a gallery or exhibition space is time consuming.

From the second you meet with the owners some 3-4 weeks before your show to the second the last visitor to your show leaves your gallery space, you will be on call and required to attend any meetings or perform last minute tasks. From things as simple as the hanging of your pieces, to the set-up of the entire exhibition leaves you less time to concentrate on the aspect that is really important: Your vision.

  • 24 Hours

Unlike a street based gallery, your online art collection is available 24 hours a day and is easier to update once a piece is sold. But don’t be fooled by how easy this sounds – You will need to put the work into the marketing side of things before your online art site will make the money you want it to.

DISADVANTAGES 

  • You do not see or meet your customers

We all know that a good salesman can sell pretty much anything. Losing that face to face contact with your customer base could be bad for you to get your point across. It is easy to lose your sale if they are browsing your site at 3am and you’re asleep, and easy for a customer to miss your artistic point completely.

Quality

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

  • You can show the high quality of your art online but it does not do it justice

The advantage and disadvantage of your art quality go hand in hand. You cannot do justice to brush strokes on an online medium, and you certainly can’t show textures and textiles. An example of using the internet to your benefit can be seen by the Photographer Ronald James; mind you, it is a lot easier when you are already established. Ronald James couples shots of his editorial photography with publications he has been featured in. He shows that being able to see his archive and also his blog; you can maintain a successful online presence. Michel Keck successfully opened her online gallery in 2006 and is still going strong. You are able to view portfolios, original pieces as well as her new works. Recently noted as “a big mover and shaker in the international online art world” by the gallery owners Uncle Freddy’s Gallery, is this down to her online presence? I think it is quite evident that the Internet enhances and promotes the art industry in short, but only if artists stay very aware of the risks of online marketing and strategy. But it is a living, breathing organism: If they take their fingers off the pulse of their business, I think that it would flat line immediately with little hope of resuscitation.

Citations:

This is a guest post by Andras Deak, a part-time blogger and a full-time photographer in Budapest, Hungary. His favorite subjects are nature and sport related events. Andras started his career being a plane-spotter back in 2004. His ideal is Ronald James, one of the best fashion photographers out there.


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