Weighing the value of contemporary art in killer-grams

Picasso didn’t post, Richter never re-grammed and Titian wasn’t on Twitter.

If you were to compile a list of industries that people associate with the social media age, I suspect that art would feature somewhere near the bottom. It is a sector steeped in history and tradition and has been one of the most lucrative markets for centuries. But for all of the prestige and class associated with the art market, it is not a sector synonymous with technological advancement nor transparency.

David AiuServan-Schreiber
David AiuServan-Schreiber

Determining value in the world of art has never been easy, often due to a perception that one requires insider expertise. Even now with the full power and access to information online, outsiders can feel intimidated by the $67bn global art market. Investors have looked on art as an opaque sector and investment into it as the subjective and emotive preserve of the wealthiest people in society.

The rise in social media might be the catalyst to change that.

The art market is democratising and the profile of people who collect and invest in art is changing dramatically.

I am represented by MTArt Agency, the world’s first talent agency for up and coming visual artists. They do a fantastic job building my profile in the art world and diversifying my revenue streams by placing my works with collectors, auction houses, and galleries, as well as, securing brand partnerships. They have secured partnerships with Pomellato jewellery stores, placed my work in Sotheby’s summer exhibition, the Zari Gallery, and Rosewood Hotel in London.

This is the direction art is heading in. Galleries are still crucial for the industry, but two in three galleries in the UK are losing money. The future of art is taking artworks to people rather than waiting for people to come to the art. This is changing the way we experience art and increasing the importance of tools like social media to engage new audiences.

The visual and immediate nature of an online platform such as Instagram suits art perfectly. For an artist, it creates a relevant window through which to exhibit your work to people who may otherwise not see it.This is something that my agent, Marine Tanguy, and I try to capitalise on. There is a new generation of artists, art-enthusiasts and collectors emerging. They are typically millennials who are technologically literate, consume their news online and are social-media savvy. Art investment has not traditionally been associated with younger people, but there is now an opportunity to tap that market and target younger potential collectors.

In the case of Instagram, 600 million people are on the platform and 60% of them use it to seek out and discover new products.Of those 600 million people, 90% are under the age of 35. This is a demographic of people hungry for visual content and keen to acquire new things.

Now consider the way people are organized on social media platforms: people exist in online communities where they share their passions and views with their followers and network. It’s fair to assume that if they find and buy a product they like, they will share that with their network who will see it and are likely to also appreciate it.

What is particularly exciting for me is the opportunity to find like-minded people of a similar age who will appreciate the message behind my artworks and connect with them directly. My work addresses the importance of preserving and protecting the environment and through social media I can quickly find networks of people who care about the same causes and share my values. In contrast, most galleries will not make the introduction for collectors to artists, leaving a void in the ability to forge a relationship. Social media has created a digital word-of-mouth effect for the art industry. If the right person invests in me and purchases a piece of my art, and in turn puts a picture of it on their feed, there is high potential for it to be seen by other people who will be interested in my work as well.

Artists are increasingly seeing the possibilities of social media. The days of waiting for people to come into a gallery, view your art and then buy it are becoming a way of the past. Now I can directly target people who I know are interested in art and care about the environment. This means I can sell my art to more people and it also means that as I make more sales the value of my artworks increases.

Joining MTArt Agency and exploring this gap in the market has led to me selling 34 paintings in eight months and the average value of my sales to appreciate by more than 400%.

While this is exciting for an artist, it is also creating an entry point to the market for prospective collectors. Many have become frustrated about the lack of transparency through traditional avenues of purchasing art and they can now search for an artist they like online, message them directly to develop a relationship with them and get an idea of their personality and work rate. Through Instagram, it is also easier to get a sense of an artist’s success. In a gallery there is no way to “scroll” the history of the artist and see their exposure. Through social media, an interested buyer can discover their background and how much work they are being commissioned for. This transparency facilitates the ability to gauge whether an artist’s work will continue to increase in value and judge if the artist is a viable investment which evokes trust. Social media builds this trust and has enabled me to see great success as an artist.

For the first time in history, the power in art is now in the hands of the artists and the collectors directly through their online social media profiles.

David AiuServan-Schreiber is represented by MTArt Agency, the world’s first talent agency for upcoming visual artists. https://www.mtart.agency/artists/david-servan-schreiber/