While many creative industries have adapted to new consumer trends by embracing the digital world, you could be forgiven for considering the art marketplace to have retained business practises that seem a little antiquated in comparison.
Centuries ago, artists created work through a system of patronage, effectively being sponsored by rich benefactors, or the church. Art works created by old masters such Leonardo da Vinci and Hieronymus Bosch were financed in this way, which led to art works being largely the preserve of the aristocracy.
Although by the 20th century times had of course changed, buying art was until recently still a process shrouded in mystery for many people, with personal connections, or a certain level of insider knowledge often required to gain access. Life was equally tough for the artist, who would often need a reference from a more established artist in order to exhibit in galleries. The result of these traditional systems of buying and selling was that many potential buyers were effectively shut out of the market, while without the right connections many artists struggled to find a platform to give their work the exposure that it is deserved.
Thankfully, times are changing once more.
In the online art market, which increased by 68% between 2013 and 2014 to $2.64 billion, a new focus has emerged from galleries to improve the ease with which people can view or buy artworks. This, combined with the emergence of new digital platforms such as MyArtBroker, has contributed to a huge boost to the secondary art market, while also making the process of buying art more accessible for many people.
MyArtBroker for example, is a platform that connects and supports buyers and sellers of art, where works by household names such as Andy Warhol, Banksy, and Sir Peter Blake can be bought through experienced brokers, without the costs of traditional auction houses. As a result, the marketplace has become more democratic, both in terms of creating a level playing field for artists, as well in offering many potential buyers a new gateway into the art world.
Not only does this allow more people to have fantastic art hanging on the walls of their home, but it also provides an opportunity for investment, with 63% of those surveyed in 2015 stating this as an incentive for buying art online.
Some might argue of course that there is no substitute for experiencing an artwork in person. However, there is no reason why art lovers can’t both visit galleries and purchase separate works online, and as the technology available to view art works improves, this will become more commonplace.
It could also be argued that the focus on this form of technological innovation increases the commodification of art, as exemplified by artists such as Jeff Koons. Yet, art and money have always been inextricably linked, with art both requiring money to create, as well also creating great sums.
In reality, it is only really due to historic deficiencies in the traditional art market that the stereotype of the starving artist has become common currency.
Regardless of personal opinion however, the landscape is undoubtedly moving towards a more open and inclusive system of trade. If this encourages more people to create and buy art, then that can only be a good thing.