The birth of social media has forever changed the way we view, buy and sell art. Here’s how…

As I write this blog, the Instagram hashtag #instaart has 18,609,619 posts, and #art has 213,438,155. Isn’t it incredible that in just a little over a decade (Facebook was born in 2004 and Instagram came about in 2010), we’ve evolved from having to hop in our cars and physically drive to a gallery – or buy a plane ticket to visit an international art fair – to being able to view new pieces, discover new artists, and even buy new works from our beds, the bathroom, the back of a cab, on the metro, and even during lulls in the conversation over dinner. (I find the last example a bit sad, but I’ll save that for another blog…)

Some people believe that art belongs solely in a real-world environment, and that viewing art on a digital platform dilutes a piece’s impact or meaning, while many others believe that art is best viewed wherever it reaches the most and that it can adapt to the space in which it’s shown. I’m in both camps, but one of my favorite aspects of this new social-media-art relationship is that art-at-the-click-of-a-button accessibility is offering people who would otherwise have no contact with the art world an opportunity to brighten their lives with beautiful pieces. It’s also giving people who do have access to works a platform from which to learn more about them.

Today, social media acts as a kind of proverbial Sotheby’s. It’s totally transforming the way the buying and selling of artworks happens, with the more traditional artist-gallery relationship being faced head-on. Artists are able to talk to us one to one now, engaging with us online, asking for our opinions, and sometimes ditching galleries entirely in favor of online everything.
If you don’t believe me, here’s proof: in 2015, the online art market jumped by 34 percent to USD3.27 billion, according to art insurer Hiscox. That despite a slowdown in the global art market at the time. While most of the online fine art sold went for less than USD7,250, about a quarter went for USD72,500 and more.

Research shows that Instagram and Facebook are the most popular platforms for art viewings and sales, with about half of online art buyers using Instagram to find online art in 2016. What’s more, it’s thought that as many as 80 percents of millennial art buyers didn’t even set foot inside a gallery, preferring instead to purchase their fine art only online.

I must emphasize that I am in no way diminishing the importance of a physical space in which to sell art. I think that galleries, art fairs and other real-world places play a hugely vital role in the art world.
(After all, I have a gallery space myself. You can visit it here.)
I’m just saying that I think there’s room for both the digital world and the real world and that everyone – from artists to dealers to the audience – could benefit from a positive relationship between the two.

Have you ever bought art on social media, or do you sell your pieces via Instagram or Facebook? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here.

Until next time,