There are many myths and misconceptions about the art business the are perpetuated by artists, gallerists and collectors. Over the next few posts, I’m going to share my thoughts on the validity of these myths. I originally wrote these posts for Fine Art Views Newsletter some time ago, but the concepts are still important and now seems like a good time to reshare them.
Let’s begin by looking at a fairly widespread idea among artists that art simply doesn’t sell anymore. I’ve stated this misconception in its extreme, and I know that most artists don’t believe that it has become completely impossible to sell art, but some version of this myth has found its way into the psyche of many artists.
Many feel that the art market is less vibrant than it used to be and that it’s harder to sell than it was in the past. They may feel that the Great Recession hasn’t ever ended for the art market and that efforts to sell art are in vain.
Some artists see the glut of cheap art being sold through mass retailers and flooding in from China as impossible to compete with.
Yet others are caught up in the news and don’t believe that anyone is paying attention to art in the midst of political upheaval, and international tensions.
Others still believe that millennials will never buy art . . .
You get the idea. If an artist wants to find reasons that artwork isn’t selling, there are plenty out there. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If an artist feels that efforts to expose, market and sell their work are futile, they are less likely to put forth the effort to pursue sales opportunities. If art isn’t being seen, it’s less likely to sell, which then confirms the perception that sales are slow.
I don’t mean to downplay the many real challenges artists have faced over the last decade. It’s undeniable that the art market was deeply impacted by the economic slowdown, and that sales were soft through the late 2000s and into the 2010s. The effects of the slowdown have been hard to shake off, and it’s almost certain that the recovery has come to the art market more slowly than it did to the rest of the economy.
Having said that, however, I believe that the art market today, is the healthiest it’s been since 2006. I base that belief on the strong and growing sales we’ve seen in our gallery, and from the strength of the market being reported to me from galleries and artists around the U.S.
Xanadu Gallery is on track to have another record year for sales. I anticipate our sales will be up by almost 20% over last year, and last year was up by almost that over the year before. More importantly, this year and last we saw a higher level of sales than we had seen even before the recession.
We’re also seeing sales across a broad range of price points, but especially strong are sales in the mid-market, which for us is art priced between $2,000-$8,000. That price range had seen the greatest impact during the recession, and the resurgence in sale there indicates to me that the recovery is reaching a broader range of buyers.
While I know that the economy can change very quickly, I’m very bullish about prospects for the market in the near-term, and we’re investing in marketing to take advantage of the strong market.
I would also suggest that we are in a position to benefit from the current strong market because we didn’t allow the hard years to discourage us from giving our sales efforts and marketing everything we had.
So what does this mean for you?
I believe that it’s critical for artists to approach the market with the right attitude. If you are hard-working, pragmatic, organized and positive, you will find opportunities to sell your work. As you sell and build your confidence you will build momentum that can help sustain you through dips in the market.
When I hear artists or gallery owners complaining about the state of the market, I turn and walk the other direction. Other than finding company, (and we all know how much misery loves company), I just don’t see benefit in dwelling on the negative. If the last ten years have proved anything, it’s that the art market is resilient and that even during the worst of times, art is such an important part of people’s lives that they will continue to collect. The fact that any of us are still in business is proof of that!
How strong have your sales been this year?
Have you experienced an uptick in sales over the last year? To what do you attribute the strength of your sales? How do you react when you hear other artists complaining about the art market or the economy?
Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below. And stay tuned as I tackle other myths and misperceptions in upcoming posts!