This graph shows traffic to The Abundant Artist over the course of a year, comparing 2017-2021. Note the massive increase in traffic in 2020.
Now that things are opening back up we can’t assume everything will just go back to normal. A lot of artists discovered that selling their art online was more profitable and more fun. Many art galleries and shows will not reopen.It’s normal for traffic for established websites to stabilize. TAA was established in 2009. You can see a pretty repetitive pattern year after year. But beginning in late March 2020 we had a big spike in traffic that essentially stayed until April of 2021. The Covid pandemic closed most art galleries and outdoor art shows. A very large number of artists decided they needed to learn how to sell their art online. We were ready for it, and worked with lots of artists who adapted in various ways.
On the collector side, behavior has changed as well. Wealthy collectors adapted to buying art online, before they saw it in person. Wealthy people increased their share of wealth during the pandemic. Many high-paid professionals under 40, ideal prospective collectors, have transitioned to working from home, or hybrid office/home office situations, permanently.
The steady decline of retail stores, already picking up pace before 2020, accelerated during the pandemic. US cities have more retail square footage than most countries, and a lot of that space is gone for good.
Some of the near-term challenges for many artists will be navigating the art world as it struggles to reopen. Museums, galleries, and individual art studios will be doing a mix of in-person and hybrid in-person and virtual shows. I suspect we will see a lot of temporary, pop-up galleries inside larger museums and established galleries, as well as the usual indie shows.
This mirrors hybrid retail experiences we’re seeing in other sectors. Amazon, Apple, Dominos pizza, and other companies are all creating stores that allow people to shop online and then step into the store for just a few minutes to pick up their order (2 minutes or its free for Dominos).
The Transition to Work From Home
In white-collar, professional circles, the everyday topic is how to help employees recover from burnout. Over a year of intense changes (Covid, work-from-home adjustments, kids homeschooling, caretaking of sick family members) have left many people completely exhausted.
All of those people who are now permanently working from home are going to find that they need ways to improve their home offices. In addition to lifestyle and workway challenges, that means better furniture – and better surroundings. Artists would do well to specifically target these professionals making $100,000+ per year who need to fill their bare walls.
These hybrid store experiences points to a trend called Integrated Commerce – the full blending of online marketing and ecommerce with offline marketing, galleries, and shows. For artists, this could look like using Instagram and TikTok to get attention and drive people to your pop up gallery or studio show. At that point, some of those people will buy. The rest will need a little more time. They’ll come to an open studio event, see you give a talk in a hall somewhere, and then buy something from your website later. There’s infinite permutations of how this could work, but the point is this: the idea of selling online as separate from selling offline is becoming an obsolete notion.
In 2009, I wrote The Internet and The Arts: A Manifesto. A lot of artists told me that people wouldn’t buy art online, that people need to see art before they buy it. I pointed to a handful of artists who were at the vanguard of selling art online, and that it would expand. Now selling art online seems normal. Any artist under the age of 40 knows that while Instagram is not required to sell art, not having it is weird.
Pretty funny how fast things change, and how normal becomes inverted.
So selling art online isn’t new anymore.
As things change, so does The Abundant Artist. In 2016 I wrote a book called How to Sell Your Art Online. Websites and social media were still relatively new to the art world then. If I wrote that book now, it would just be called How to Sell Your Art.
The Future of The Abundant Artist
Artists need an all-around education, centered on artists controlling their careers, thriving with abundant wealth. Whether you’re selling art online, offline, independently or through a gallery, you deserve to know enough about art business to make an informed decision about how you want to sell your art – or whether you want to sell at all.
Which means TAA needs to make the following changes:
- Our courses need to include integrating offline and online sales
- We need to publish articles and other educational materials on learning how to run a fully integrated art business
- We are going to offer courses on the art making side – improving your practice, and specific media and styles
Look for more of that kind of content in the near future. If there are other things you’d like to see from us, I’d love to hear about it.
Want to hear more stuff like this from fellow artists who are successfully selling their art right now? Join our webinar this Thursday, July 22, at 11 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern. Here’s the link https://www.crowdcast.io/e/expect
See you there!