Last week, Melanie sat in on an “Ask The Experts” session at 272 High Holborn with arts sales expert Chris Grant-Peterkin of Visual Art Trader. This event was part of University of The Arts London’s Creative Enterprise Week 2013
Xavi Solé came along with an interesting dilemma. Xavi is studying MA Fine Art Digital and Technology Speciality at University of the Arts London and wonders how it is possible to sell an intangible digital product, which customers cannot touch.
The first suggestion that Chris made was to join Sedition Art. Sedition only sells digital artworks for devices such as Ipads, smart-phones, televisions and digital photo frames. Sedition acts as a platform where artists can sell their work widely with little outset cost, but also means that customers can own a piece of work from famous artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin for less than £10.
Chris anticipates that when high resolution gadgets inevitably start to decrease in value, the digital arts market will continue to grow.
Xavi then showed Chris some examples of his work, the first was a project called Scanface, which involved the scanning of peoples faces;
Xavi explained that he is very keen to make “social art in social times”, creating work which is collaboration between artist and individual.
Chris approved of this approach, mentioning that by adapting to changes such as this, he can reach a variety of different markets.
Xavi then introduced us to a project called Guardiola President where he created a fake election and asked how he could make a living from similar events. Chris suggested that selling a token of the event (such as an election poster or print) for minimal cost, would both give visitors a great memento to the show and provide some kind of fee towards the cost of providing the event. Chris likened this to an event he attended where the artists offered to cut visitors hair for free, and was frustrated that he didn’t have anything to take home afterwards, as a framed lock of hair would have made for an interesting talking point for an art collector.
Finally, Xavi presented his Melanina Type; a project where the artist had designed a type, made a transparency and then printed on to skin as a suntan. Chris thought this was a particularly tricky project to market, but suggested that he could try selling the type as a downloadable font.
Overall, Chris thinks that visual artists should be proactive and think of innovative and creative ways to sell their art. It is still possible to sell your work in the traditional art gallery format, but as Xavi has noticed, the times are changing.
Online art sales providers such as Saatchi Online have adopted the traditional business model of a gallery and put it online. These types of websites charge a commission for each work, which mean the website gets a large chunk of the artists sale for very little work. Chris’s website Visual Arts Trader just asks for a membership fee and then artists are free to sell their work directly to the seller. Artists can also use Visual Arts Trader to promote their events and exhibitions, which both drives traffic to his website and also shows buyers where to see the artist’s work in person.