I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again—technology has changed the art world forever. But while most of the time I’m firmly in favor of what technology has done for the individual artist, now I’m beginning to wonder. . . Could it all be leading to an over-saturated art market?
Of course, it’s not JUST technology that’s the problem, although it does play a role in two of the three points I’m about to discuss.
Art prints are taking the place of original art.
A classic example of this is Thomas Kinkade. His prints are selling for as much or more than a lot of great original artwork by other artists. By flooding the market with prints, Kinkade is effectively keeping other artists from selling their own work.
Valuable artwork is created in hours, rather than months.
The value of original art is now completely separated from the time and effort it took to create it. Some popular artists can turn out paintings very quickly but still sell them for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
While most artists would dream of being in that position, the unmerited inflation of value can cause serious problems for artists whose work simply takes longer to create.
Because of new technology, art sells fast. There was a time not so long ago when art wasn’t sold by the click of a mouse. Art galleries were the only places to buy original art, and space was always limited. Now you can buy prints, original art, giclées—all of them at the push of a button.
I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, especially for artists like the daily painters who sell their own original artwork. But added in with everything else, this ease of acquisition is probably not helping to raise the value of art overall.
So what does it all mean?
First, that a smaller number of artists can fulfill the growing demand for art. Second, that now, more than ever, your art needs to be truly unique to stand out in the crowd.
And third, for those of you thinking about buying art—dig deeper than what’s shoved in front of you. Consider original works and local artists. As much as you can, support the hard workers and the creators of beauty.
Because you, the artbuyers, are in charge now; and neither the gallery owners nor the artists themselves will determine the course of art in the 21st century without your approval.