The one word holding back the art world.

  • how and where to start, how to develop confidence in your own taste
  • a lack of transparency in information, particularly in pricing
  • making a passion for art ‘normal’ and not reserved for the ‘elites’
  • Start by looking. On Instagram, by visiting galleries, art fairs, art museums, grad shows, exhibitions. Ideally do it with a friend. Art is a visual experience, however also a social one. The more you look, the more you discuss, the more you learn about yourself and what you respond to. There is a world of joy and self-discovery in this journey. And while you can easily do it alone, it’s more fun with a friend.
  • Meet the artist if you can, or the gallerist (the person in the gallery). Have a conversation. The irony of this industry is that most artists and gallerists are really approachable if you start a conversation. Many just don’t know how to do that themselves. The artist and their work will come to life as you find out the story behind it, which may or may not connect with you.
  • You don’t have to like everything you see. Most people don’t. It’s fine. When you see or experience something that connects with you, trust me, you’ll know it. And that changes over time, as your own tastes and life experience changes.
  • Having the confidence to trust your own taste is the biggest breakthrough. There is no ‘right and wrong’ and you don’t have to agree with scholars and critics. I see many parallels between art and, for example, wine, including it’s fine to start with ‘I think I know what I like’. The best people in both fields are not pretentious. The best art makes you think or makes you feel — so if you are experiencing either of those emotions you are on your way!
  • Traditionally thriving with a business model based on asymmetric access to information (which meant patrons/collectors relied on the advice of insiders & tastemakers and pretty much nobody else had any access or opportunity) this now holds the art world back.
  • Today’s currency is information — a lack of data leads to a lack of trust. It sounds self-evident yet it’s not yet clear to many in the art world. Global art platform Artsy say adding prices to works online delivers a more than 3x higher likelihood of sale. Yet 33% of Artsy gallery partners (who are paying monthly for the partnership) choose not to display prices. Old habits die hard.
  • Most often prices are not transparent and the ‘game’ of ‘cracking the code’ on pricing makes many feel like an outsider. Information is power. Why would you make your client feel powerless? Transparency of information is the most requested attribute of millennial and online buyers today. Not to mention the educated & informed cohort of ‘creatively interested’ potential new art buyers. And yes I’ve heard all the ‘don’t show prices’ arguments - that could be another whole article, suffice to say here I believe that is old school thinking and detrimental to the industry as a whole.
  • Jerry Saltz, notorious and much followed art critic, said
‘Art is for anyone; it’s just not for everyone’ Jerry Saltz, art critic
  • I feel the art industry has given itself a bad rap by positioning itself as elitist. Artists are not elitist. Most gallerists are in business because they are passionate about art and artists. The 1% of the industry is elitist, by definition. Unfortunately this 1% dominates most media (multi million dollar auction sales, scandals). It ignores the fact that 85% of all art sold by volume is is under $50,000. And 95% under $250,000. *
  • Art is for anyone. Art makes you see things differently, to challenge perceptions, to encourage creative thinking and problem solving. Empathy and understanding. You don’t need to be able to draw to appreciate art, in the same way you can appreciate elite sport without being an athlete yourself. Let’s make it ‘normal’ to love art, not reserved for the elites.

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Paul Becker

Paul Becker

Art entrepreneur, passionate about culture change, making art more accessible & building a sustainable creative economy. Australian Founder & CEO of Art Money.