What does it mean to be introduced to the art world through Instagram? How will you display an artist's 50-year retrospective when their 2016 exhibition is a series of GIFs, contained on a thumb drive?
Technology is forcing the art world to grapple with questions like these, and young art collectors have the answers. We spoke with art world insiders to examine how emerging trends in the art world are shaped by technology. Here’s what they had to say:
Social media fuels engagement in the arts
Facebook is now 12 years old and has 1.8 billion active users. The likes of Instagram and Snapchat are even younger. These platforms have altered the way we communicate, and they connect artists and collectors like never before. They’re disrupting the traditional gatekeepers of the art world and creating opportunities for new players.
Technology is opening the art world to new people
Two of those new players are Paulina Petkoski and Samantha Banks, founders of Playground Detroit. They’ve found a sweet spot by using social media and local engagement to drive involvement in the arts. Young collectors gravitate towards this scene and they’ve gained a considerable following by connecting emerging artists with collectors and resources. The scope of their influence is fast eclipsing traditional galleries and dealers.
Traditional gallery roles are changing
Getting into a gallery can be a career boost for artists starting out. It means they’ll meet collectors, dealers, and influential players in the art market. However, being featured on the right blog or social media feed can leapfrog an artist beyond these tenuous first steps and make them into an overnight sensation.
Careers can be launched virally
In the past, a new art phenomenon would percolate slowly into the collecting scene, sometimes only emerging long after the artist was deceased. Now, artistic renown can begin at the tip of someone’s finger — as they double tap a picture on Instagram.
So what drives these waves of viral interest online? Imagine if you could try every food in the world on demand. Your tastes might become daring as you sought out new flavor combinations and textures. If a lot of your friends discovered a new delicious food, chances are you’d want in.
Collectors are becoming more adventurous
The internet offers a limitless buffet for tech-savvy art enthusiasts. Collector’s today have access to more artistic content than any prior generation, and in an effort to try something new and discover a fresh artist or trend, they’re willing to push boundaries.
Thanks to the combination of an adventurous spirit in young collectors and an unprecedented, endlessly scrollable, stream of art — unheard of trends can emerge overnight.
Young collectors are pushing boundaries
Collectors as tastemakers are increasingly expansive in what they consider collectible art. They’re validating new forms of art based on their personal interests instead of collecting within prescribed lines.
Art patrons are seeking the unusual
In a gallery, a collector lingers near art, but the same is not true for Instagram. Art that is unexpected and unusual is more likely to catch the content-saturated eye of collectors in the digital realm. The desire to capture the fleeting attention of an online audience shapes what kind of art is discovered and elevated by young collectors.
A personal touch still matters
Another way young artists and collectors break through the scroll cycle is by leveraging social media to form a deeper connection. Through social media, collectors can tour a studio they might not otherwise be able to visit. These behind-the-scenes glimpses into the artist’s world are a driving force behind engaging collectors.
Authenticity and experiencing the story behind art is a huge draw for today’s collectors. Many buy art because they want to support artists and foster a connection with the arts. Collectors and artists on these platforms are part of an extended network online.
An art community is being built through apps
Young collectors are not only expanding the boundaries of what is considered art, they’re changing what it means to be part of an arts community. On platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, they’re forming communities that share ideas, create trends, and shape the market. These forces are part of an exploratory and democratizing force in the art world, spearheaded by young collectors.
So, what can we learn from this tech and art intersection?
Don’t write off tech trends as the product of short-term millennial interest, destined to fade. These changes are more seismic and entrenched than passing fads. Many future artists and collectors of the 21st century will have cut their teeth online. Through tech, they discovered their passion for art, acquired their first piece, made their first sale, found a community, and created an entirely different world of art collecting.
21st-century collectors use non-traditional ways to explore the art world and discover new trends. Their other collecting needs are also being met by digital solutions. Instead of stacks of folders, they opt for cloud storage with Artwork Archive.