Who's Curating the Emerging Art Scene Online?

Art galleries aren’t what they used to be. With the rise of the internet and increase in accessibility, people are visiting art galleries a lot less than they used to, as well as this, a lot of talented and new artists are leaving London due to its expense. Most artists, either emerging or established have a website, where anyone can see their work. Regardless, there is still a booming scene for emerging and new artists in London with a vast number of galleries selecting and prioritizing new work, keeping the city vibrant.

So who is behind this new and buzzing art scene in the city? Now, the amount of art showcased and promoted has reached a point of abundance, with many artists using their laptops in the comfort of their own homes to curate and publicize their own work, which begs the question, are art galleries still important and do they have an integral part in both society as a whole and the art industry like they used to? With the expense of exhibiting work growing and the competition from other artists submitting to galleries rapidly increasing, the value and purpose of art galleries in this era is changing.

A boutique online art gallery that specializes in showcasing and selling original works by emerging artists, NewBloodArt came into existence after being created by Sarah Ryan. Her background as an art tutor helped to cement the gallery’s ethos of identifying “the most exciting artists emerging from art college.” Founded in 2004, the gallery now discovers artists by “visiting as many of the art college degree shows as possible,” which adds up to around one hundred shows in one year.

What is behind this thriving online art scene? Many can find walking into an art gallery intimidating, and it was reported in 2014 that the value of the online trade is now around £1.57bn and is likely to more than double by this year, 2018. This is not only a result of obvious technological advancements and the rise of the internet; the long-held belief that the art world is exclusively reserved for the super-rich also plays a part. Andrew Taggart, a junior specialist at auction house Freeman’s notes how “by and large, I think new bidders are intimidated by the auction process, whether that means they’re intimidated to come into the building or register to bid.”

Sarah reiterates the value of the Internet in the contemporary art scene. “NewBloodArt came about because of the Internet providing the missing piece,” she continues “it simply wasn’t possible before to represent artists right at the start of their career on this kind of scale with the overheads involved in physical galleries. The Internet has been a complete game changer for the emerging art market.”

DegreeArt.com have established themselves as specialists in UK student & graduate art sales and aim to “identify and nurture talented artists and enable clients, at all stages of their collecting journeys, to reap the rewards of engaging with those artists and own and invest in their art,” says the gallery’s co-founder Isobel Beauchamp. The gallery finds new talent via “the art schools, with whom we have longstanding relationships.”  

She also mentions the impact of the Internet “we now have the ability to market our galleries and artists’ artwork constantly. Equally, it offers the artists greater opportunities to support the work of their galleries by promoting themselves through their social media and websites. The very best examples of this, where the artist and the gallery collaborate, result in greater sales success of the individual artist’s work.” Isobel states how the Internet and social media is “a valuable research and recruitment tool to find artists.” In terms of the art trends found online, she predicts that “the greatest shift will come as the art industry finally comes to terms with the fact they must embrace the online and all it has to offer in terms of marketing, algorithms and use it to enhance and advance the best of the offline art world.

Sarah illustrates this point, stating how the “online art market is very hot right now - with lots of significant new players entering the market and all physical galleries now having an online presence; so I think rather than identifying specific new trends it’s the realization that it is now quite normal to buy original art on the Internet which is a massive shift from where we were a decade ago.”

The Internet’s influence on the art scene is clear, and exhibitions, auctions and promotional material for artists is increasingly moving online, but perhaps this is for the better? It does mean that an overwhelming amount of ethnic minority and artists from lower income backgrounds who usually have no connections or entry routes into the art world, have other options. It will not make the art world more accepting of diversity or established galleries any less intimidating but it will give diverse and emerging artists the opportunity to create their own initiatives, exhibitions and businesses.

Tali Ramsey a London based writer who focuses on contemporary art, culture and music, particularly reporting on the underrepresented and overlooked artists of these industries. Email: tali_16@hotmail.co.uk. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taliramsey/

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash