The business of art today challenges artists to be innovative while new opportunities open up for collectors who break through old comfort zones.
Let us agree that professional artists need to find collectors to purchase their work and collectors are looking for art they love at a good price. In the old days (lets say the early 2000's) these artists needed galleries to stand a chance of finding a collector. Now with the internet taking off there is almost limitless opportunity for artists to market their work. Even galleries are going online and doing very well this way. But online marketing is one option to be added to traditional marketing.
In a recent mini-survey I asked my newsletter readers about their online art purchasing concerns. The majority view was that the risks seemed to outweigh the benefits. This was indeed a surprising outcome and a bit worrying for me too. Aside from a tight economy the concerns mentioned can be summarised as follows:
- hacking of bank information
- the online photo has been manipulated (or other misrepresentation)
- the art will not arrive or at least it will be damaged
All of these concerns are of course possible issues, but then again these issues apply to any commodity sold online. Banking is also probably one of the most popular online services used. We know that internet sales of consumer goods has exploded in popularity. Indeed many internet users, for example, try to do all their Christmas shopping online. Makes sense when you consider the vast choice, convenience, no commute and time saving involved.
Let us look at these concerns more closely. Hacking is possible, but unlikely in the scheme of things. It is more likely that we will lose our credit card than have it hacked. The biggest threat is faced by the gullible in phishing scams. With a bit of common sense this threat can be avoided. Also artists usually will accept EFT transfers as it is safer and more cost effective. So collectors need not use credit cards at all.
Getting closer to the big issue - the manipulated photo or other misrepresentation. The best way to avoid this is to get to know the artist as best as possible. E-mail and even phone the artist if this is practical. Check up on the artist's track record. Any legitimate artist trying to build a career will be desperate to prove his or her credibility. Why mess this up with photo fraud? If the artist seems like a scammer then click your way out of there! Also make sure there is a money-back guarantee.
Will the art arrive safely? A track record of sales and satisfied collectors should dispel this concern. Find out how delivery will take place. A reputable courier service is a must these days.
I have bought artworks online and confess that I have always been blown away by how much better the artwork looks in reality than online. This stands to reason, but also poses a challenge to artists. How to give collectors a better feel for the painting's appearance than with a small photo.
One option is to offer a high resolution photo that can be e-mailed on request to the collector. Artists should not worry about image theft. That is unlikely to occur and if so then so what? Nothing compares to the original.
Many photos can be sent showing size comparisons and frames. It is worth the artist's time to do this and the collector need not be shy to ask. The benefits for both parties are clear. The artist gets a sale with low overhead and the collector gets ample choice and at a good price too.
So the challenge is for both artist and collector to do their homework, prepare the basics and have a worry free experience.
It should be the start of a beautiful relationship!
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