Blame the Internet age because long gone are the days when art galleries were the gate keepers to the art market. The days when artists needed galleries to review their portfolios, to market their work in ways they couldn’t, and essentially sell to collectors that the artist could not find alone. Those days are gone with the wind.
Here’s what reality is looking like these days…
1 – Marketing yourself and advocating for your artwork has never been easier
Ever heard of a little thing called social media? You have the power of creating a fan base and attracting tens of hundreds of millions of billions of fans all by yourself in ways that were not possible five or six years ago. You can build your online profile, show your work and explain it better than anyone. Moreover, there are hundreds of online magazines, blogs, newsletters and publications on the constant look out for fresh talent. So while you’re out there marketing yourself, be calm knowing that someone is looking for you too. Use your social network as leverage because in today’s world, online followers equals $$$.
2 – Galleries need you (artists) more than you need them
With a great fan base comes great power because it opens up a whole new audience of prospective buyers for galleries. The reason why most collectors discover galleries online that they had never even heard of in the first place, is because they were searching for a specific artist. So your fan base is inevitably a trampoline for the gallery’s recognition/reputation. To top it all off, the two primary and traditional functions of a gallery which were, to give collectors access to art and provide marketing exposure to artists, can be fulfilled by artists themselves. Eliminate the middle man!
3 – Artists have greater chances of being discovered online
Fact: A gallery may represent 10, 15, 20, 30 or more artists but only a handful of them bring in the big bucks. As a result, even if you have gallery representation, if you’re not one of their money makers they’re not going to waste time promoting you. Promote yourself and trust that if you make good art, you will be found.
4 – Collectors, buyers, curators and anyone for that matter, can find you easily and directly
Today, whether you live in the North Pole or under a rock 400 miles away from the nearest town – organizing an exhibition, a studio visit or an interview has never been easier. Same goes for selling.
5 – Galleries are no longer the threshold to museum and institution exhibitions
If your fear is that without gallery representation you won’t have a chance of exhibiting your works in a museum – BANG – you’re very mistaken. Everyone and their mother uses the internet and some years ago museums were reserved for deceased artists and a very select group of live ones. But today, artists in their 30’s have mid career “retrospectives”, others sit on museum acquisition boards, and others donate their own work to museums. Just like collectors, if gallerists or journalists find you online – so can museum curators and directors. Everyone is always on the prowl for the next big thing and that thing can be you!
But no, you’re not off the hook from attempting to get gallery representation. I will, of course, play devil’s advocate to my own article and very soon I shall tell you the benefits of having a gallery still are.
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