It’s a changing market for many industries, not just the art market. The gallery industry may have felt a bit more pain from the process than others. Artsy just posted an article that talks about the changing art market and how it is effecting both artists and galleries. A link to the full article is below. Many artists seem to be adjusting with the changing times fairly well by happily taking on more of there own sales and marketing. They have embraced some of the new options they have to broadcast their message via social media and online art sales platforms while still maintaining more traditional channels. The article also discusses how the changing market has effected art galleries and industry experts chime in on their observations and views of the future.
I agree with many of the points made by within the Artsy article. Gallery Fuel has written about some of the issues and elaborated on how to implement new strategies as a means of reacting the changing art market and the role of the art gallery within it.
Here is a except from the Artsy article that comments on art galleries specifically.
But maybe not the best time to own a gallery.
One consequence of the rising celebrity status of artists is their increased negotiating power with respect to their galleries. This could allow artists to demand a larger share of sales than the traditional 50/50 split. In addition, galleries bear the cost of attending fairs, and often fronting artworks’ production costs and other expenses.
The panelists anticipated that the trend of “megadealers” or “über galleries,” would continue, with big-name galleries absorbing many of the most talented or marketable artists while mid-tier galleries suffer. Woodham suggested that smaller and medium-sized galleries could survive if they stopped trying to chase the same ultra-high-net-worth individuals buying the most expensive works, and instead focus on middle-tier collectors who may buy a few things a year in the four or five figure range. He estimated there were fewer than 100,000 people in the world who can regularly purchase works of $500,000 or above, and smaller galleries were wasting their time by “marketing to whales.”
Instead, he counseled that galleries should be more open and welcoming spaces by, for example, writing clearer, more accessible texts to accompany artists’ work and helping people understand pricing. He even suggested that galleries should facilitate Skype calls with artists, who he said are usually the best-equipped people to explain the work. “Most gallery press releases are still too turgid, with lots of 25-cent words,” he said. “It’s so off-putting.”
As with almost all that is written about the art market and art galleries role within it, this article is primarily talking about the higher end of the market. Most of you reading this post probably do not deal in works $500,000 or above, but even in second and third tier markets the message may still ring true.
Consideration of one’s target market and competition will go a long way in determining success. If everyone selling art in your particular market is going after the same small set of art buyers, financial success becomes more difficult. This is where specialization can be an asset along with providing excellent communications via written marketing materials and access to artists. For inspiration on writing clearer, more accessible text, check out How Great Writing Can Help Find New Art Collectors Online.
The usage of Skype or any other form of video conferencing by a gallery to provide more direct access to artists is an excellent idea. I would recommend using this tool as a highly collaborative effort. As you know, many artists are not the strongest communicators, however they likely provide an element of authenticity about their work that may just be what prompts an art collector to pulling out their credit card. I’m a firm believer that success as an art dealer today depends on getting the messages of both artist and dealer coordinated and clear is critical to turning art enthusiasts into art collectors. I most often see one or other viewpoint as the dominating message vs. a collaboratively created message.
The Artsy article also goes on to discuss how artists are becoming more adapt at creating their own brands without the help of an art gallery. The artist brand has proven to be a powerful tool for the Mega-Dealer. I feel there is an opportunity for all art galleries to connect more meaningfully with prospective collectors by creating and promoting personal brands for the artists they represent. To learn more about how to do this, check out Creating a Personal Brand for Your Gallery Artists.
Industry experts in the Artsy article also recommends galleries searching for a new model of doing business look to those in other luxury industries. For galleries in smaller markets, this inspiration does not need to come from high-end retail or luxury brands. To mirror what they are doing will probably require an equally high-end budget. There is innovation in many places throughout the business world that could be applied easily to your business. Look at lifestyle branded entrepreneurs and chic specialty boutiques. See how they are capturing the romance and customer relevance of their products and if any of their strategies might be applicable to art. Years ago, Gallery Fuel published a few articles that offer suggestions on how an art gallery can refresh their business model. Some of the ideas discussed in them may be a good fit your art gallery. Shortcomings of the Traditional Art Gallery Business Model and Future Possibilities: The Art Gallery Business Model.
As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, once said “The only constant in life is change”. We have experienced a marketing changing so fast each year it is hard to keep up or to know what is right for your business, artists and clients. In what ways have you seen your market change? How are you adjusting your business strategies to move with the times?
Artsy Article by Anna Louie Sussman