2009 was the year of gloom and doom – not just for the economy in general but for art galleries in particular. Everywhere I looked last year I saw stories about the impending death of the gallery system and the importance of selling art online.
Well – something has changed for me in 2010 – I’m tired of all the gloom! It may be that I’m feeling suddenly optimistic because I just scanned through “The Next 100 years” by George Friedman at Borders last week (and no – for FTC purposes – that is NOT an affiliate link!). Mr Friedman suggests that the U.S. is only in the very beginning of its global leadership and that our current strife is just an adolescent hiccup of sorts – something I really needed to hear.
But no – that’s not really the reason for my sudden enthusiasm for life. The reason is that it occurred to me that enjoying art and selling art is very much an event and that is not going to change. People may buy screen-savers online, and prints online, and occasional original works online, but experiencing and selling high-value original art is very much about selling a physically-based experience.
Has anyone noticed recently that the Met or the Guggenheim or the MOMA are short on visitors? I don’t think so – at least not when I last looked. People love art and it’s a much more rewarding experience in the flesh – even if it’s an electronic art form. Let me give you an example:
A few years ago I went to the PS1 show in New York. There was an amazing piece of electronic video art that explored the inner worlds of classical music – it was mind-blowing and breathtaking. Now I could have looked at that on my laptop screen or a big Plasma screen, but the live experience was much more powerful. Why? Because of the shared experience enjoyed with other humans. Even in today’s high-tech world humans still get high on being with other humans and sharing something amazing.
You’ll see the same thing at a gallery or art show opening – there is a buzz around certain art pieces that grows with the shared enjoyment. And the power of a nice wine and some excellent hors d’oeuvres to fan that buzz! And we haven’t even started to talk about the entrance and participation of the star-artist.
When these factors reach a resonance there is the potential for a room full of those happy little red-dots and the fulfillment of our creative and commercial dreams.
All of this can apply equally to any live art event – from an open studio to the opening night of a new exhibition at a major art Museum. All it takes is great art, excellent planning and promotion, and an enjoyment of people.
Will selling art online ever be able to approximate this? Uh – No!
Selling art online is extremely valuable when used for it’s rightful purpose, but when it comes to original art, the real value of your online presence and online marketing should be to attract live bodies to be in front of your work at an art event. Its that simple!
In the course of the next few weeks we’ll feature a series of articles on how to use your online marketing to bring people to your live art events. We’ll also look at how to get right many of the critical success elements in planning and staging a really successful art event. Please check back soon for more in this series. And make sure you go to a live art event every week – if you’re an artist that is an essential part of your market development – and fun too!