Growing and nurturing an emerging artist’s career is both a great opportunity and a challenge for art businesses. It’s highly rewarding and fulfilling to see an artist’s career take off, but there is a higher risk associated with emerging artists because sales, collectors, and art-world interest are not guaranteed.
Before COVID-19, in-person opportunities were often at the center of art businesses’ efforts to introduce collectors to new or emerging artists through exhibition openings, art fairs, and gallery walk-ins. But in-person options are often not available or ideal due to ever-fluctuating COVID-19 cases around the world—and many art businesses have no choice but to focus on digital experiences to connect the next generation of artists with collectors. According to the latest Art Basel and UBS report “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Gallery Sector,” the pandemic has consolidated the importance of online sales for galleries; in 2019, online sales accounted for only 10% of total sales for art businesses—but so far in 2020, that number has risen to nearly 40%.
Read on to learn how art businesses are successfully leveraging audience research, digital storytelling, and consumer insights to build out their emerging artists’ careers online.
1. Leverage insights from your artist’s existing audience
Learn as much as you can about the collectors that currently follow and engage with your artists. Are they mostly based in one region? How old are they? Which platforms or marketplaces do they use to learn about and buy art? Which media, press, and websites are they subscribed to? What are their professions? Your answers to these questions should inform your digital strategy and the audience you target.
Artsy offers indispensable tools to every partner to ensure they have the data and information they need to inform important business decisions—from planning social media calendars to choosing which fairs to attend or which artists to bring to a fair.
2. Use digital storytelling to build awareness and deepen connections with your artist
The next step in establishing a digital strategy for your emerging artist is storytelling. Consider the qualities that make your represented artist unique and craft a digital narrative to help others recognize your artist’s talent and relevance.
Then, plan, create, and consistently distribute content across channels such as your Artsy profile, social media, website, and email. Read our newly released “Gallery’s Guide to Content Creation” for our top content recommendations for art businesses. Ask your emerging artist to cross-promote your content on their channels to leverage their audience and increase your following. Oftentimes with social media channels, the higher engagement you or your posts receive, the more likely the social platform is to recommend it to other similar users.
There are many formats and possibilities for art businesses to create engaging content, but here are a few recommendations around emerging artists from Artsy’s digital marketing experts:
- Curate an art-first digital presentation that’s authentic to your digital narrative and gallery with Artsy Viewing Rooms and Online Exclusive Shows.
- Record a studio visit of your artist’s space to give collectors a chance to see them at work, learn what goes into the production of a piece, and hear about their artwork in the artist’s words. (And don’t forget to take some pictures to post to your gallery’s Instagram feed, as well!)
- Have your artist host an Instagram takeover of your gallery account.
- Host a live interview with your artist on Instagram.
Because your artist’s brand is new and growing, it is vital to seek and observe suggestions from your audience, their audience, collectors, and potential buyers about your artist’s work and your promotion of it. What kind of content do they want to see? You can use Instagram’s “poll” or “question” features to get these answers easily.
If your artist has a following already, it’s important to continue to build their audience beyond their existing audience and yours. Submit their work for press releases in local and international online newspapers, magazines, and websites that their target audience reads so you can find more like-minded individuals who could be interested in their work.
Be consistent with your content and media outreach. You cannot grow an artist’s following overnight, but over time, if you are persistent and focused on impact and learning from each post, submission, and engagement takeaways, you will grow and support their career.
3. Make it easy for collectors to buy your artist’s works
Great content should prompt potential buyers to wonder: Will this work fit in my space? Where else has this artist shown their work? Are their artworks in my budget? Therefore, it’s important to have this information visible or easily on hand for the collector. Keep your artist’s legacy of shows, fairs, artworks, press, prizes, and bios up to date in a central, easy-to-find location on your website and your Artsy page.
Finally, it’s imperative to place your emerging artist’s work in spaces where serious collectors frequently visit, and where it’s easy for them to purchase artworks. Artsy is designed to connect galleries with interested collectors, and we have a variety of tools to help you support your artists’ careers. Our view-in-room feature allows collectors to view any artwork on Artsy on their wall, and we have a variety of purchase options for galleries to help them reach collectors that are ready to buy. Buy Now and Make Offer allows you to sell works at a fixed price of your choosing and lets you consider payment-verified offers from serious collectors. We also have an inquiry messaging system that enables interested collectors to message you about an artwork; however, our e-commerce options with visible pricing solicit a 4–6x higher sales conversion rate than works listed as inquiry-only with “price available upon request.”
In conclusion, COVID-19 has forced most industries and businesses to reconsider their reliance on physical experiences. However, moments of change can be catalysts for great imagination, creativity, and experimentation. The online experience for collectors is more important than ever before, and art businesses must continue to seek new ways to connect their emerging artists with collectors. If you are persistent and dedicated in your approach, you will support and build their careers online. Learn more about what an Artsy partnership can do for your art business and your artists today.