While major auction houses fight for high class clientele, achieving a sales record after record, none guesses there might be another art dealer in town. A new, fresh art handler, the one everybody likes, everybody uses and the one that could potentially damage the entire high-end-veiled art industry. The name of this ‘new’ intermediary is Instagram, better known as a photo sharing social network.
Instagram, one of the most popular social media, allows for the direct communication artist - collector, while sharing precious images of super-fresh artwork, rendered [or not] through any of the filters, to make the piece even more appealing. This practice is used by numerous artists, and some say it seriously threatens to endanger the art dealer occupation.
In the world of urban and contemporary art, many artists turned to social media. In fact, it’s hard to find a single creative who does not have a ‘page’. When it comes to Instagram, major names in the contemporary art world are using it, for communication as much as for self-promotion. Among the more famous figures on the platform are Ai Weiwei and Richard Prince, while the globetrotting JR benefits from extending his photography based projects via the web. Conceptually, it’s perfectly just. KAWS is one of the active artists on the platform, but there are individuals who actually sell through Instagram.
As reported by Vogue, one of these artists is Ashley Longshore, a celebrity-loved New Orleans-based painter, who gathers not only likes, but direct purchase offers, going as high as $30,000. Admittedly, she frequently sells works before the paint is dry! Intriguing as it sounds, this type of art selling and buying has its perks, but the downs are something to be careful about.
Good sides of artwork sale through social media is the democratization of the process. The market is no longer reserved for the posh and the fancy, paddling away in a packed auction room, but it becomes a popular commodity. Surpassing the mystified art circles, the market is now widely expanded. Big auction houses realize this trend perfectly, and follow it, not only by using social media abundantly, but through streaming their other actions on the web.
Although this type of art purchase is often proclaimed the ‘future’, it does call for caution. Buying art via Instagram, or any other social media, contains the risk of not liking it once it arrives to the collector. Each artwork, regardless of the media, possesses a different value, uncovered on the emotive level, the one that makes the art lover go for the piece in the first place. This valor is not always about the thematics, iconography or even skill of the artist, it encompasses the feelings of texture, physical appeal, three-dimensionality one work has, all of which cannot be grasped online. This is the key argument in favor of purchasing art after seeing it in person, but in many cases, for example when one is investing, it can be overlooked.
Instagram art selling therefore is a good thing for artists. It’s a marketing and business tool, something that puts them on the map and opens the door for beyond. As far as collecting goes, purchasing art on Instagram should be approached with utmost care, not only because of the many, many beautifying filters, but because of the risks involved as well.