How do I feel about internet in the art business?
Many years ago, the only place people could get fine art was at an art gallery, art fair, art auction, or they knew someone personally who made art. Access to fine art was limited by physical location. Some communities had no such accesses, due to shortness in funds, limited population or mindset, or lacking skilled artisans.
Places that did sell art, however, commanded high prices for their sales. Art galleries charged high commissions, as well as numerous fees, for the promotion and sales of an artist’s best efforts. I have heard from various seniored artists who relayed their personal experiences about such fees, even when there were few or no sales made by the galleries they engaged. From their lips I have heard their chagrin over art fairs in small communities that were noisy and loosely coordinated, with little to no insurance for art vendors, as well as insufficient sales due to limited or poorly coordinated promotions. Many art fairs were, as they are today, held outside rain or shine, regardless of inclement weather. Artist vendors were bound by contracts and physical sale locations. As far as art auctions – some were exclusive, some only sold works made by deceased artists.
When the internet emerged, many artists set up their own websites and offered their works directly to the public or select clientele. Online galleries now compete with the older traditional, physical galleries. Even auctions of artworks are now held online. The internet has enabled more people to have access to a broader range of skilled artists, with fewer middlemen directly involved, and the public can reach the artist with questions and requests with more ease than any time in remembered history.
Online artists are better able to interconnect, as well as showcase their portfolios, to the international community. Some online art galleries sell original artworks and provide customers with the opportunity to have a favorite picture put on cups, blankets, even cell phone cases, and will ship them anywhere – even overseas.
Be cautious to do your research carefully, however, if choosing the internet as such a venue. The internet has its hazards, and one of them is fraud. I recently learned that one online gallery would allow artists to post their art on its site, then bar artists from any further access to their pages. The art was still being sold on its site but the artists were not always compensated afterward.
Read reviews, become familiar with any internet company you wish to connect with before you give them your life’s work. A little extra time in research may save you many dollars later.
Charity Goodwin, Artist