For the life of me, I cannot figure it out.
Some artists are so predictable it makes me laugh … otherwise I’d cry.
I’m not talking about their work, which could also be the case, but I’m actually referring to their responses to things. I mean, seriously, I can write an essay on any topic and predict with 90% certainty how most artists will respond to it.
Case in point …
In my essay, “The Dying Art Retail Model,” I write about how the continuing explosion of online commerce is totally changing the retail game for artists and art galleries. This is not new. I thought I was merely writing a reminder piece. I’ve written about this almost ad nauseum in the past.
In a nutshell, I explain in that essay that consumer buying habits and online sales are eating into the brick and mortar art gallery business model. In other words, more and more people are shopping online and skipping their nearby mall.
Furthermore, I explain in the essay that consumer online buying presents a larger pool of independence from which artists can drink … all they need is a decent art commerce website and they don’t have to depend as much on galleries for livelihood or legitimacy in the art world … they can create their OWN legitimacy.
But … NO! I keep getting pushback on this topic. It’s insane.
Believe it or not, here’s part of an actual response that I got on social media to that essay … by the way, I got numerous responses similar to this one ...
“… Don’t fool yourself that a website would make you a popular artist overnight. You will have to be ‘discovered’ by the right crowd in order to be successful. It’s really easy to remain unnoticed in such a vast gallery.”
Oh my God.
Artists who think this way are the EXACT reason why I wrote the essay in the first place. Okay, let’s break it down, shall we?
First of all, we all know that an artist who owns his/her own website isn’t going to be popular overnight … that’s a no-brainer not even worth discussing. We all live in the real world where nearly everything takes time ... lots of time.
But here’s the part of that comment that disturbs me.
“You will have to be ‘discovered’ by the right crowd in order to be successful.”
That comment is the poison that’s keeping artists in psychological, emotional and physical poverty.
Artists who are waiting to be “discovered” are like deserts that are waiting for rain. Good luck with that.
If you’re among the one in every half-million artists who get “discovered” by a billionaire art collector or powerful museum director or art critic … good for you. Go for it! Take the ball and RUN with it! You can stop reading this right now. Goodbye. Best wishes!
Are you still reading? I thought so.
Artists, you have GOT to free yourself from this slave-like, psychological dependence on the gallery model. It’s silly to wholly depend on any gallery or anyone else for legitimacy.
Look … if you get into a great gallery that has a fantastic reputation in the art world, more power to you. I love that. I also love great galleries and want them to remain in business for that very reason.
However, it’s not good for artists to invest all of their emotional energy, wishes and self-esteem into the prospect of being picked up by a great gallery or being “discovered” by whomever. I know plenty of artists who are “in” galleries, have done decent sales and they’re still not happy with their careers.
When you sit around waiting to be discovered by a gallery or anyone for that matter, you get what’s - not - coming.
For some sad reason, far too many artists are banking on some unseen, outside force to fall out of the blue, tap them on the shoulder and pluck them out of obscurity and into fame and fortune.
Guys, I’ll say it yet again. Galleries are overwhelmed. They’ve got more artists than they know what to do with. And those other people who you think may one day “discover” you are too busy trying to keep their own heads above water … this includes “wealthy” collectors.
I’m NOT saying that artists shouldn’t try to get into brick and mortar galleries. Let’s face it. Artists are the lifeblood of galleries. We need both. But guys, let me be clear ... the WORLD IS CHANGING. The art gallery model is changing. This means we have to change as well.
In short, artists should try to keep as many viable avenues open for their work as possible. At this time, the internet continues to be the BEST resource for artists who want their work to be seen by the entire world at any time of day or night. Why not fully exploit this resource which is free of charge?
Get … and keep … your own commerce website. It’s your personal calling card whether you’re in Oshkosh or Osaka … New Orleans or Nairobi. And keep it updated. Don’t let it just sit there.
In short, waiting to be discovered will be the death of you.
Ugh. I’m exhausted. Can you believe that I actually had to write this? I mean, we’re living in 2017, not 1917.
You can give a bird wings, but you can’t make it fly.