Monday, October 20, 2008

Do Galleries Need eCommerce?

Do Galleries Need eCommerce?

I read an article recently that touched on the idea that the growth of the online art market has endangered the relationship between artists and traditional dealers. The article mentioned that the online relationships that artists can now maintain with potential collectors might harm the traditional brick & mortar structure of the art world. This is an issue that I’ve explored a few times on the Myartspace Blog. It is an issue that deserves to be explored or at least considered. The influence of the internet on the art world is obvious in that artists are utilizing the internet in order to build professional networks and to sell work online. The questions at hand:

1. Should brick & mortar galleries accept eCommerce as part of marketing efforts?

2. If a brick & mortar gallery fails to acknowledge the growth and importance of eCommerce today will that gallery be more apt to endure financial struggles in the future compared to other brick & mortar galleries that learn to accept eCommerce as a viable addition to the traditional art market?

Questions like this often face a very stubborn crowd. I realize that traditionalists of the art market will often firmly state that buying art online will never replace viewing and buying art in person. However, I think with some scenarios even the staunchest advocate against the art market ‘going online’ would agree that it can be profitable if managed correctly. For example, what if the online buyer is already aware of the artist he or she is considering an online purchase from? In that case eCommerce works without question.

Another example-- What if the online buyer is willing to use a secure form of online payment in order to purchase a work of art from an emerging artist? Again, that can work if done right. It works everyday for artists and buyers throughout the world. It can work for brick & mortar galleries as well. The internet is not going away-- eCommerce will continue to fuel the global market. How can anyone deny that? Should brick & mortar galleries take advantage of that? Should they offer eCommerce or utilize sites that offer eCommerce for that purpose? I think so.

My stance is that brick & mortar art dealers should consider having a stronger online presence in order to expand upon their market efficiently at little cost. This includes eCommerce options for selling art. I believe that most gallery owners would benefit from being involved-- or having staff involved-- with social networking sites and specific online art communities that offer eCommerce capabilities. I have five main reasons for having this opinion:

1st: Displaying art online with eCommerce capabilities will increase the chance of finding a potential buyer for stored artworks at the gallery. Galleries will often have some artworks in storage while other artworks are rotated for public viewing. Thus, by displaying all works-- or at least the stored works-- for sale online the gallery has the potential to unload a piece that would have otherwise remained in storage.

2nd: By utilizing social networking and eCommerce a gallery owner could ‘test the waters’ with a potential new artist to the gallery before investing time and money that could be spent on others who have already proven their marketability and track record. The gallery could technically represent dozens of newcomers online in order to gain feedback and eventually decide who to represent and who to drop. It would also be a good way to have an artist on hold if for some reason an artist represented by the gallery itself abruptly leaves.

3rd: By being involved with social networking sites a gallery owner will increase the flow of traffic to his or her gallery website. Higher online visibility can result in new buyers noticing the gallery. It also translates to more people observing the artists represented at the gallery-- which is never a bad thing.

4th: Utilizing these capabilities could help to strengthen the artist/dealer relationships at the gallery. My assumption is that an artist would feel more secure if his or her artwork had two distinct avenues of being sold at the gallery-- in person or online. If a gallery does not offer eCommerce chances are an artist will discover that option elsewhere independent from the gallery. Thus, I think a gallery owner would be better off exploring the possibility.

5th: The next generation of artists and art collectors will most likely expect a gallery to offer eCommerce and to have a visible online presence. Traditionalists of the art market are still very wary of the internet. However, opinions about how the internet can benefit the art world have changed drastically since the late 1990s. Today you can find online art communities featured at contemporary art fairs alongside traditional brick & mortar galleries. That alone should give you an idea of what is coming-- it is already here. The next generation of artists and art collectors will be born into that. To them the meshing of the internet with the art world will be the norm instead of being viewed as dangerous territory.

Do galleries need eCommerce? I think so. I think it will become a vital aspect of the art market of tomorrow. What say you?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


self taught artist said...

I say great job discussing this subject. I'm not eloquent when it comes to this speak but I applaud this post.
There needs to be more incentive for sure for an artist to go through the hassle of gallery representation if in the end the work sits dead on the wall.
I think virtual galleriesfor brick and mortar galleries should be opening nights, blogs even..more interaction would make it more exciting(and profitable) for all involved.

Donald Frazell said...

"Gallerists", damn I hate that fake word, used to represent artists and get shows set up in other cities, with allied dealers. They are too petty and jealous for taht now, this will force them to do their jobs.

going into galleries all you see is some girl sitting there looking lbankly into a huge Mac monitor, doing nothing but begging out. And a dealer sitting in his office fiddling with stuff, taking care of personal business or cruising the web for god knows what. Most are vanity gallreies, supported by mom and dad. A reall art dealer deals, and find buyers for thier artists work, thats their job, so the artist can do his.

That doesnt happen much anymore. Its all about the party. And social schmoozing. Time for the "gallerists" DEALERS, to get to work. And stop taking themselves so damn serious. They are all a part of the absurd fiasco of contemporary decadence. Get a job,. Oooh, woops. they have one. GET TO WORK!

Donald Frazell said...

And Brian, you welcome me to the site with a generic email a week after I join?. I am hurt. Naaaah, not really, but behind the times, already set everything up. But will add more. Got color and jazz photos too. Not as good, but some might like em.

I appreciate your being busy, my wife is amazed how good your site is, hope you gt that groups/club thing going. Cant get beyond the first page of 8 when I tag modern. Not that most I see have anything to do with modern art, wish you would really restrict each portfolio to only one tag, many just mark em all and gotta weed through tons of irrelevant stuff, just not what it is labeled, no matter the quality.

far too time consuming, and greedy, as a consumer needs to find what he she is looking for easily, not thousands of irrelevant images. Found the two I know I wanted to contact, but wnat to see more, just cant get beyond the first page of images under modern. Definitions obviously need to be made to artists who dont understand what each form of art is. The portfolio system would work great to put each under the appropriate heading, and still who different ones under drawings, surrealism, painting, cubism, photo, nature etc.

There can be too much of a good thing. And galleries need to do the same. i hope the chaff gets separated, goes broke, adn leaves better and fewer choices, way too much of the same ole BS. Need true competition, and those who run galleries to be ART DEALERS, not some dumbass, made up word, like gallerists. Like they actually are a profession. PLEEEEASE!

Balhatain said...

Donald, send me a network invite if you have not already. Or I'll send you one. A lot of changes are coming to the site.

Self Taught Artist, I agree with you. Especially on the part about galleries having blogs. Having a blog is a great source of free PR for a gallery. It is another exmaple of the direction artists have gone and that art dealers have been slow to embrace.

With a blog you can reach thousands per day with the content you post if you combine that effort with social networking sites. Most galleries would be able to reach out to more people that way than simply sending out an email press blast.

Traffic is traffic. Buzz is buzz. Information can spread like wildfire with just a few clicks.

Donald Frazell said...

OK. Like I said before, and you advertise, we got ArtSlant here in LA. I like it so I dont waste time going to galleries with nothing that interests, me, can delete them at a click of a mouse. I got work to do.

but "gallerists" used to be agents, and represent artists, as Art Dealers. Too much work I guess, and not snotty enough, rather be called a "gallerists" whatever the hell that is. A paper hanger? As we used to call Hitler? Just sit there and tell people to move postage stamp sized "works" around a nearly empty gallery, til it "feels" just right? Already did that, retarded.

galleries need to go back to groups shows more, and fill the damn walls. Sterility is not conducive to creativity, a lil mess is more real, anal is not a art virtue. There are more than enough galleries and museums, now lets get some decent stuff up there, and cram it in, if its good, it will stand out, and sell. doesnt have to be three layers deep, but can be if smallish works. i dont mind, and rather like a more lively environment, music, sofas, real munchies, not cheap cheese and wine, sandwiches and coffee would be good. Sell it. This holy silence for garbage on the walls is rather unnerving. Weird, like a Twilight Zone movie.


self taught artist said...

It's good to hear your take on galleries and blogs. I suggested that to the gallery I am in and they balked...'too busy'. Both owners are artists themselves so one would think it would be a great opportunity for all around. I know they are too busy, but bottom line is it's a little dead out there, in there, right now and if you take all the time to get the gallery redone,(major undertaking for them this summer) wouldn't you want to do something as simple and inexpensive as a blog?