Display Original Art Online and Connect with Buyers at ArtistBe.com

ARTISTS. The press release for a new online gallery/social network platform points out that with the rise of innovative e-commerce solutions, people in the creative fields (art, music, writing) may be able to find new ways to live their passions “instead of slaving away at day jobs.”

Screenshot of ArtistBe.com WebsiteIn fact, the press release announcing the launch of Artist Become (www.ArtistBe.com) leads off with this bold statement, “Things are changing for artists. No longer do they have to toil endlessly in obscurity, unsure of how and when they’ll be able to sell the artwork.”

ArtistBe.com is a new venture by the online art gallery overstockArt.com, which specializes in selling reproductions of oil paintings.

“With ArtistBe.com, we are doing more than creating a place for up-and-coming artists to display original art online, we are creating a new social platform for artists and art lovers alike,” states David Sasson, the president and CEO of overstockArt.com.

Fellow artists and art lovers can connect and communicate with other community members, comment and rate each other’s artwork, and become fans of other members. Artists can create their own galleries for free and had a dedicated URL to showcase their art, biographies, exhibitions, and more.

Buyers can choose to purchase art directly from the artist without any commission fees. If buyers prefer to order more affordable canvas-transfer paintings, the artist will earn royalties on every reproduction sold. Reproductions are available in a variety of sizes; pricing is dictated by the individual artists.

ArtistBe.com has arranged its content into a variety of galleries, specified by artist, subject, style, and type. Artists will dictate how the community will look in the future, by tagging the art with keywords that will help visitors find the type of art they want.

“Our commitment to art and the art world started with overstockArt.com,” said Sasson. “Now we want to branch out the give art lovers around the world the chance to find the next great artists of our generation. ArtistBe.com gives artists the ultimate platform to become recognized for their work and to make a living out of their creations.”

Sasson acknowledges that art is not an easy thing to sell. He believes that artists who participate in ArtistBe.com will benefit from the site’s relationship to overstockArt.com because overstockArt.com has already built a network of thousands of art lovers. This can help artists gain exposure and ultimately sales.

Useful Stats: Trends in the Wall Decor Market

ARTISTS. PHOTOGRAPHERS. If you ever wonder if the market is big enough to support the growing number of galleries that sell art and photography online, here are some encouraging numbers and trends.

According to a 2010 Unity Marketing Report on the market for Art, Wall Décor, Picture Frames, and Custom Framing, Americans spent more than $42 billion decorating their walls in 2009. But a closer study of 1,300+ recent buyers of wall décor showed that how consumers choose to spend their dollars to decorate their walls is changing.

“Americans are paying more attention to decorating their walls, but traditional art reproductions, for example, are being purchased less frequently today than they were in previous years,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. She notes that “Consumers are investing more in original art which is more widely available as working artists become market focused.”

Wall decor in bedroomThe study found that: “Art buyers are creative people who strongly connect with the art they display on their walls.” They want to buy items that reflect their personal taste, and consider the art they hang on their walls to be an extension of themselves.”

  • 55 percent of survey respondents agreed that “The art I buy and display is an important outlet for my creative expression.”
  •  72 percent agreed that “When choosing art for my home, the way the piece makes me feel is most important .”

 The study was conducted to help art, wall decor, custom framing and picture frame manufacturers, marketers and retailers better understand the consumer market for their goods.

Danziger notes that “The art and wall décor consumer wants to feel that she is heard and understood by those wishing to sell her these most personal forms of expression.”

She believes “Success in the art, wall décor, and framing market will come to those marketers who know how to make an emotional connection.”

Unity Marketing specializes in providing consumer insights to marketers and retailers that sell luxury goods and experiences to the “masses as well as the classes.”

 

PrintedArt.com Offers Design Advisories for Home Decor

PHOTOGRAPHERS. As more consumers and professional decorators become more comfortable buying photos and art online, expect to see more diversity in the types of collections and support services being offered to them. 

We’ll highlight some of these online galleries on this site so you can see just how many opportunities now exist for marketing your own art and photography online.

PrintedArt.com is a web-based collection of fine-art photography hand-selected for the home décor and hospitality markets by an experienced staff of curators. Every image in the collection is sold as a limited edition and produced in the buyer’s choice of formats.

In addition to selecting the size, the buyer can specify how they want the print prepared for hanging. Prints don’t have to be framed if the buyer chooses to have the photo mounted on aluminum dibond and finished with acrylic or printed on canvas and wrapped on stretcher bars. Or, the customer can choose to have the images printed on art paper for custom framing.

Recently, PrintedArt.com initiated a series of design advisories to help customers envision how multiple images from different photographers might look when grouped together to support a chosen theme.

“The beauty of photography is that you can have amazing prints by different artists, in different color schemes, that have so much in common,” said Klaus Sonnenleiter, president of PrintedArt. “The most important aspect of a theme is that it must speak to you.”

For example, nature comes to life in this group of photos recommended for pairing by PrintedArt’s team of curators. The photos, Rebecca Akporiaye’s “Australian Pelicans,” Lee Rentz’s cleverly composed mountain landscape, and Al Vanderlyn’s dense, mysterious trees inspire an appreciation of the beauty that exists in the natural world and present a seamless theme for display in any home or office. 

If you would like to learn more about the company, visit www.PrintedArt.com or meet the staff in person at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, March 17-20 at the Pier 94 exhibition center in New York.

LINK

PrintedArt.com

Photographer Jack Spencer Says Follow Your Own Muse

PHOTOGRAPHERS. ARTISTS. On my Great Output blog, I published a post about a remarkable photographer, Jack Spencer, who will have a solo exhibition at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina throughout the month of March. Entitled “This Land,” the exhibition will feature precisely crafted archival pigment prints of landscapes that Spencer shot while traveling some of the back roads throughout the U.S. and Canada.  

Spencer, who resides in Nashville, TN, is a self-taught photographer whose work is included in many collections, including The Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Berkeley Museum of Art, and Elton John’s photography collection.

He regards printing as an integral part of his art, and says he “rarely allows the camera to dictate the final expression. For many works, the camera simply provides information and a starting point.”

Jack Spencer Photograph of Woodland Path, Cumberland 22
Cumberland 22, 20 x 24-in. Archival Pigment Print. ©Jack Spencer, www.jackspencer.com

I wasn’t the first writer to ask him what advice he would give to other photographers and artists who may be just starting out. He told me that his own career has taken a circuitous route that has been the result of many trials and errors “that have been fascinating in and of themselves. My mistakes gave me their own rewards…my successes gave me theirs.”

So, he advises photographers and artists to “Follow your own muse. Find your own distinct voice. And don’t ask anyone’s permission to be an artist.”

“Art involves honest expression. It should be something you do—not to make money or gain fame or notoriety or attention,” says Spencer. “Too many people construct obstacles to the ‘flow’ by second guessing what others will think or whether or not it will be successful or whether or not it is weird enough to set itself apart.” He believes that type of thinking has nothing to do with art.

He advises photographers to “Look for images that ‘shimmer’—not just on the print, but through the viewfinder as well. If an artwork shimmers, it has soul.”

Jack Spencer photograph of Two Wild Horses
Two Wild Horses, Cumberland Island, 22, 20 x 24-in. Archival Pigment Print. ©Jack Spencer, www.jackspencer.com

On his website, he explains why he believes artists should be infinitely curious and not be afraid to risk trying something new: “Playing it safe is for brain surgeons, not artists. Fear inhibits curiosity and creativity.”

When you visit his site, you’ll see a rich and wonderfully varied body of work.

“I do not believe that as an artist, I should repeat myself,” Spencer says.”I don’t think a writer should write the same novel over and over, or a musician should write the same song over and over. ..Our world is so vast and there is so much to explore.”

To see more of Jack Spencer’s beautiful work, visit: www.jackspencer.com

To learn more about the Rebekah Jacob Gallery and its in-depth focus on modern art and photography of the American South, visit www.rebekahjacobgallery.com

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Jack Spencer Prints To Be Shown at Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, SC

Mystified By the Art Market? Read Seven Days In the Art World

Book Cover Seven Days in the Art WorldTo understand how the markets for creative work are changing, it’s important to understand what the markets were like a few years ago, before technology really starting speeding things up and the economy sent things spiraling down again.

So I read Sarah Thornton’s book “Seven Days in the Art World” to learn what was happening in 2008, when the contemporary art market was booming and prices at auction were going through the roof. Thornton’s book is interesting for several reasons. Although she has a BA in Art History, Thornton also has a PhD in cultural sociology. She observes the “art world” more from the detached, objective perspective of a culture researcher.

The book was compiled from hundreds of hours of “participant observation” and 250 in-depth interviews with high-profile artists, dealers, curators, critics, collectors, and auction-house experts. The seven days refer to insights she gained from observing interactions and activities at seven different sites:

  • a Christie’s art auction in Manhattan
  • a peer-critique by art students at the California Institute of the Arts
  • the Basel Art Fair in Switzerland
  • the Tate Britain Museum during the selection of the Turner Prize winner
  • the offices of Artforum magazine in New York;
  • the studios of artist Takashi Murakami in Tokyo; and
  • the pavilions of some of the nations represented at the Venice Biennale.

Each of the seven chapters reads like a Vanity Fair magazine feature story because she reports conversations and observations as they happen. Her approach lets you see how selling and buying art differs from selling other high-value products. (Sometimes, it doesn’t.)  Thornton admits that “The art world is so diverse, opaque, and downright secretive, it is difficult to generalize about it and impossible to be truly comprehensive.”

In the book’s introduction, Thornton says when she studied art history, she was exposed to recently made art but “I never had a clear idea of how it circulated, how it came to be considered worthy of critical attention or gained exposure, how it was marketed, sold, or collected.” As the work of living artists have become more in demand, she believes it is worth understanding the valuation processes art undergoes between the studio and its arrival in the permanent collection of a museum (or the trash and anywhere in between).

She differentiates between the “art market” (the dealers, auction houses, and collectors who buy and sell art) and the much broader “art world” which also includes the artists themselves, critics, and curators.

To me, Chapter 1 was the most fascinating because she observes an auction at Christie’s at which some pieces sold for millions of dollars. Here’s a quick overview of observations gleaned from the book about the roles of key players in the art market.

Collectors
People collect art for different reasons. Some truly understand how art can enrich their lives. Others may simply want to diversify their investment portfolios or buy entry in a glamorous lifestyle. Collectors who buy art as investment or because “it’s cool” tend to have changing tastes and aren’t as concerned with the lasting appeal of the art. So they rotate their collections like people buy and sell stock. Collectors who buy for the love of the art tend to form emotional attachments, and only sell due to misfortunes such as death, divorce, or debt. Some collectors hire consultants to advise them.

Auction Houses
Auctions aim to bring the highest prices possible, and provide the illusion of liquidity. Although auction houses want buyers to be confident that they will be able to resell the high-value art they purchase today, that may not always be true. During the boom years, art auctions became something of a high-society spectator sport in which super-successful alpha males mostly competed with other alpha males.

Artists are discouraged from attending auctions because many buying considerations have little to do with the artistic merit.  Feel-good paintings with blues or reds tend to sell better than glum paintings with browns or grays. Paintings by male artists tend to attract higher prices because the male collectors tend to better relate to some of the themes. Any works larger than the size of a Park Avenue elevator eliminates a portion of the market.

Primary Dealers
Their role is to represent artists and mount exhibitions of work fresh out of the studio. A primary dealer can try to increase the value of an artist’s work by offering it first to collectors with sterling reputations. The hands through which an artwork passes can help it accrue value.

Secondary Dealers
These dealers don’t work a lot with the artists, but they do work with the auction houses. They have sufficient capital to buy market-tested art without any immediate pressure to resell it. They take control of the object and can hold on to it as long as necessary. So if a certain style of art goes out of favor, they can wait to sell it when that type of art is back in style.

Artists
Artists are discouraged from learning about business and art marketing, because this knowledge can affect the purity of the art-making process. However, the artists who sell well at auction tend to be artist-entrepreneurs. As one commentator in  Thornton’s book suggested, perhaps the successful businessmen who buy at auctions admire the boldness and risk-taking of artist-entrepreneurs. The collectors see themselves reflected in the artist-entrepreneurs.

For example, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst both maintained media profiles that helped increase the audiences for their work. They used production strategies to ensure that a sufficient supply of their art would be available to meet the demands.

When Damien Hirst became the first artist to openly consign work to an auction house, he not only earned international press coverage, but also the admiration of the auction-house personnel who liked his strong work ethic and keen business sense. In general selling work at auction can be risky for an artist’s career, because the prices can fluctuate dramatically from year to year as tastes (and economic conditions) change.

Collectors like meeting the artists whose work they own. But auction houses regard artists as being hard to work with. During the boom, there was a shortage of older works and a spike In demand for fresh, young art.  Although auction houses tried not to interfere with the work of dealers, the amount of time between when a work left a studio and hit the resale market became shorter.  

What’s Next?
Reading “Seven Days in the Art World” provides a big-picture overview of the art world as it existed in 2008. It can provide a baseline for observing what has happened since the economy tanked, and speculating what might happen next as the base of art collectors continues to expand, both globally and within younger generations.

For example, some training programs have been developed to encourage artists to become more entrepreneurial so they make a living and pay off the student loans from attending art school.  And online galleries, art fairs, and social networking are starting to affect the way art is discovered and collectors interact with dealers and artists.

These are some of the questions we’ll continue to examine on this blog. If you have expertise, ideas, or insights that could help artists benefit from some of these ongoing changes in the art market, we would love to hear from you!

 

 

Website Helps Artists Show Work to Galleries, Designers, and Architects

Sample art sold on Art SpecifierARTISTS. New business models for marketing art and photography are continuing to emerge.

For example, ArtSpecifier.com is a new member-only Internet database that allows artists to market their work directly to designers, architects, and gallery owners worldwide. The site was developed by Joyce Creiger, who has worked in the art consulting and gallery business for over 38 years. She created the site after many designers and architects had expressed a need for one-stop shopping for high-quality art.

The site does not sell art. Instead, Creiger explains, “This site is the place to find art, contact artists directly for smaller jobs, or point art consultants to pieces appropriate for larger projects.” The site is not open to the public. It is open only to professionals such as: interior designers at hotels, hospitals, corporate offices, and private residences; art consultants; facility managers; gallery owners; and museum curators.

In addition to prints, giclées, and photographs, the site showcases paintings, wall sculptures, and art made with glass, metal, fiber, and lighting.

Creiger launched the site last October with more than 2,000 images and 300 artists, designers, architects, and art consultants as registered members. She acknowledges that the success of this site depends on the quality and quantity of artists exhibited on www.artspecifier.com

When the site was launched, she says, “A unique invitation was sent to specific artists familiar to us at the time.  This site is not limited to these artists but we encourage other artists who feel their work is appropriate to submit for membership.  There is no guarantee all will be accepted but we encourage artists to send us their information for consideration.”

Artists who are accepted as members pay an annual fee of $100 to upload unlimited images, and provide background information, a CV, and display recommendations. Designers have free access to the site and can search by color, style, medium, price, size and just about any keyword.

 For more information, visit: www.artspecifier.com

Google Art Project Lets You Visit Museums in Nine Countries

ARTISTS. On Feb. 1, Google unveiled the Art Project. It enables people around the world to discover and view more than 1,000 artworks online in extraordinary detail. For example, the image shown below is a close-up of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” as you can view it on the Art Project page for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). When you visit the page, you can also see a MoMA-produced video featuring visitors’ comments on the paintings.

Google Art Project Close Up of Van Gogh's

MoMA is one of the 17 art museums from nine countries that have collaborated with Google over the past 18 months to launch the Art Project. The project will enable anyone around the world to take virtual tours inside the museums’ galleries and learn about the history and artists behind many of the world’s most valuable works.  

I’m writing about the Google Art Project here, because it’s further evidence of how advances in imaging technology are changing the way art will be viewed and shared in the future. This introductory project just hints at what will be possible in the years ahead.  

Some imaging professionals have already established new careers for themselves by helping museums create very detailed, high-resolution, color-accurate scans of valuable artworks for their archives. 

 By using the latest image-capture and assembly tools, the Google Art Project is going one step further. The project gives us online access to images with super-high ‘gigapixel’ resolutions. Some images of the artworks contain around 7 billion pixels, which is why you can pan around some paintings and zoom in to see brushstroke-level detail from a vantage point that was previously only seen by art restorers.  

To get started, go to the Google Art Project home page (www.googleartproject.com) and choose which museum you’d like to “visit.” Then, choose either the “Explore the Museum” or “View Artwork” option.

The 17 participating museums are located in 11 cities in 9 countries:

  • The Frick Collection (New York)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York)
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian (Washington, DC)
  • National Gallery (London, UK)
  • Tate Britain (London, UK)
  • Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain)
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid, Spain)
  • Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Gemaldegalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) 
  • The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow, Russia)
  • Palace of Versailles (France)
  • Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
  • Museum Kampa (Prague, Czech Republic)

 

Explore
The “Explore” option uses Google Street View technology to let you explore a museum gallery the way you would use the Street View in Google Maps.  A specially designed Street View “trolley” (below) took 360-degree images of the interiors of 385 selected galleries within the museums.

These images were then stitched together into “panoramas” that enable smooth navigation of each room.  Some paintings on the walls appear blurred. In most cases, that’s because the museum does not own the copyright to those images. 

View and Learn
Each of the 17 museums selected one artwork to be photographed at super-high resolution with ‘gigapixel’ photo-capturing technology. The captures are so detailed, you can study details of the brushwork and patina beyond what is possible with the naked eye.

In addition, the museums provided high-resolution images for more than 1,000 works of art. When used with the Google Art Project’s custom-built zoom viewer, you can discover minute aspects of paintings you might never have seen up close before, such as the miniaturized people in the river of El Greco’s “View of Toledo” or individual dots in Seurat’s “Grandcamp Evening.”  

You can learn more about each art work through the Google Scholar, Google Docs, and YouTube video links provided with each sidebar info panel.  

Each museum chose which collections to feature and what type of information to share about each piece. They also recommended which angles should be used during the image-capture process.

Collect and Share
If you have a Google account, you can save specific views of any of the artworks to build your collections. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends, family, or fellow art students. The integrated Goog.gl URL shortener can be used to share unique links to your collections via email or other web services.  

What’s Next?
Now that the project has been introduced, it will be interesting to gauge the public’s reaction. According to Google, “The project you see today is the very first incarnation, and we may well add more artworks and new rooms in the future.”

The Art Project was initiated by a group of Google employees who were passionate about making art more accessible online.  Amit Sood, the Google employee who heads the Art Project, believes they have created “what we hope will be a fascinating resource for art lovers, students, and casual museum-goers alike—inspiring them to one day visit the real thing.”

Many of the participating museums feel the same way. As Thomas Campbell, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art puts it, “The Google Art Project coincides with a variety of Met initiatives that demystify the museum through digital means by sharing our collections and ongoing work with a broader online public around the world. Most important, these projects encourage people to visit museums and come face-to-face with great works of art.”

Dr. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, believes, “The Google Art Project is a powerful example of how digital technology can help art institutions work in partnership to reach out globally to new audiences and enable works of art to be explored in depth and with stunning clarity.”

LINK

www.googleartproject.com

VIDEO

The Google Art Project