If someone had told Van Gogh that, one day, his paintings would be sold for millions, he might have died happy in himself—albeit still poor.
His brother Theo invested in him twice over—financially, and also through his unswerving belief in him. Those of us without a Theo have to invest in ourselves. Thankfully, with the internet, it is much easier for us today.
There are a growing number of online communities where the budding or moderately successful artist can ‘meet’ other creative people. Find the right community and you will get helpful suggestions and even motivation should your confidence start to flag.
Online art communities are an excellent and, usually, low-cost means of showcasing your work. Some sites will even offer reviews from fellow artists.
While tough feedback might be hard to take, it will raise your profile to potential buyers. People buy the artist as much as they buy their work, and any online dialogue should serve to explain your work and attract those buyers.
Ah the buyer! Buying art, for some, is a luxury. For others, it is just an investment. Keenly-priced contemporary art allows collectors to invest in an artist. The collector will buy because a particular work stirs their emotions and is also painted proficiently. They invest primarily because they like the painting.
In time, their belief may even be rewarded. The work of art may increase significantly in price, though that should not be the prime motivation of any buyer. To like a painting or other work of art should always be its first reward.
Many artists, myself included, value our paintings highly because they are charged with the emotion of our inner muse. They took effort and time to create.
Unfortunately, commercial realities do not always play ball with the muse. Ask Vincent. It is a risk that all artists take. The personal effort and emotion we put into our paintings may not strike the same note with the buying public.
It is difficult to identify what makes a successful artist. There are some who have achieved huge rewards with edgy, ‘unsafe’ art. Pickled sheep and unmade beds may never win the populist vote. In contrast, there are artists who regularly sell millions of prints, but who are, equally, regularly scorned by the cognoscenti.
Creating art is, by and large, a joyful process. When we sell our art, we aim to spread that joy into the lives of others. We invest our energy in to the art; the buyer invests in the artist.
Marketing art, even for moderately successful artists, can be daunting. Rejections are par for the course in many industries, but they can just hurt a little more when you are selling something you have created. Maintaining self-esteem is a vital form of investment. But at least showcasing your art through an online source can reduce emotional risk. Any rejections are generally kept at a safe distance.
It is not only canny artists who use the Internet.
Serious buyers are always on the lookout for works to add to their collections. Online galleries and communities can be doubly helpful. As virtual galleries, they let the art reach out to a wider audience, while the forums can provide added depth to their knowledge of the artist.
Today, more and more organisations are investing in art. Pieces are often chosen to make a business statement. As well as enhancing the office environment, the choice of a piece can inspire employees and also convey a message about the organisation’s vision. It will be an added bonus if today’s contemporary art becomes tomorrow’s old master. Thankfully, the Internet makes it easier for both the artist, investing in their own work, or the buyer looking to invest.