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Social Media–The Death of Galleries?

By Jordan Miller on January 7, 2019

Almost a year ago I began writing this blog post and then I stopped because my gallery day job became overwhelming for nine months and I never returned to finish. Ironically, at that time, my gallery exhibition was my priority over this post!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, its never left my mind.  I write this as both a gallery owner and as an artist.  I see being an art gallery owner more challenging as the years go by as people turn to not only online sales but online relationship building through social media networks. As an artist i find more and more people are contacting me about my works in other galleries rather than buying direct (because they don’t want to go to the gallery, they just want to email me about things I post?). The right thing to do in this case is to direct them to the gallery where they saw the work to make the purchase. My artists at the gallery find that this is happening to them as well so it isn’t just me! Social media makes it easy to contact anyone, to find anyone.

In order for galleries to stay open, its important the gallery sells as the costs of running a business and the overhead is huge!  In my 12 years of owning cre8ery, I’ve seen multiple galleries close nearly every year (local and across MB).

Rewind yourself back to the late 90s and the early 2000s for a moment and think about how life was compared to how life is now.  There really was no social media or template websites or at least the knowledge to use them. Since then websites like WordPress, Wix, and Square Space have made this task ‘easy’ for artists, designers and other professionals. Smart Phones have made photography instantaneous to post directly on social media platforms.  Channels such as YouTube, Vimeo etc. are also being used to self-promote and sell.

Before social media you had to be represented by a gallery (and) or know a large number of people who would support you in getting the word out on your own or though making sales. The drive to be represented by galleries was much more desired and sought after. Showing in a gallery isn’t about being an established artist, its about building and growing yourself as an artist. Its equally the same amount of work for the gallery and the artist to have a show. As a rule of thumb, undercutting an art gallery is a huge faux pas for any artists’ reputation. We all see it and we all have to trust that the artist will be honest with both the gallery and with themselves.

I might be a ‘younger’ artist in the art world but i did graduate from the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in 2002 and the struggle to find a gallery was real. Today, i see less young artists out there looking for gallery representation and more artists making a go of selling online. Personally, I’d rather show in an art gallery and work on my art full time than work on promoting myself 24 hours on social media. It takes up too much time and energy, something I have less and less of as I get older.

I feel like I could ramble on forever…

I believe that having an art show in an art gallery is important for many reasons.

  • Building a solid, fluid body of work and presenting it in its full in real life form is much more powerful, inspiring and organic. Online media really ‘flattens’ and changes the works. Art needs to be seen in the flesh to fully comprehend the emotional impact, scale, and details in works as well as proper colour as we all know your monitor isn’t likely calibrated to the true colours in the art.
  • You feel the excitement and nerves of presenting your works to a real life audience.
  • You receive real feed back with body language, praise, compliments or critiques which is important to an artist’s growth and development.
  • Its a challenge for the artist to be in a public form as most artists I know are introverts; however, its a required part of getting out there and selling yourself as an artist.
  • My art looks way better in real life than on my website, i hear this comment often. I sell way more when I have an exhibition than when i post digitally.
  • Lets not forget about the real life hugs, conversations, and congratulations that are really important that seem so common and unnatural online.

My point may be, get out to galleries and see the work in real life. Show people your support in real life. BUY something from galleries, don’t juts buy from artists. Privately I’ve spoken to other galleries who talk about maybe closing their doors because they don’t have the traffic and the sales they need to stay open.  Winnipeg, you’ll get rather boring to us all if the galleries close, I know you enjoy art or you wouldn’t be reading this!

I’m going to shamelessly self promote my own gallery here, I pay a commission in my own gallery too! It keeps me open! I also suggest that if you enjoy the art gallery but perhaps can’t afford art or don’t have space for art, or if you are an artist who enjoys visiting that you consider taking out a membership to my art gallery? Here is the link: http://www.cre8ery.com/memberships-new/

as well as the other galleries that sell my works that I happily pay a commission to if it means they stay open forever, please support:

Pulse Gallery

Gallery Lacosse

Thanks for reading-I don’t consider myself a strong writer but I do think writing this blog is important.

Commenting below is great. Please let me know what you think!

Love,
Jordan

2 thoughts on “Social Media–The Death of Galleries?

  1. George Schoenhofer says:

    This is a wonderful piece, Jordan. I think it does a great job at outlining the advantages of a great gallery, particularly one that caters to new artists. I am not an artist, but I love art and collect pieces that move me emotionally whenever my funds allow. For me, there is no substitute for a well-curated gallery. It allows me to see how a piece of art is meant to be seen. I can see its true colours, and the texture of the piece. And I get to see it with other pieces of art in the same space, which sparks my imagination and allows me to compare pieces. I see things I wouldn’t have if I was just looking at a single photo of a painting or piece of pottery on-line.

    And most importantly, I get to take advantage of the curator’s vision as well. I love what you are doing at Cre8ery. You introduce me to new artists I never would have found on-line, and I am very grateful for that.

    I’m not an artist, but I am a member of Cre8ery. It’s a small way I can support your gallery even though I don’t live in Winnipeg any more and can only visit a few times a year.

    • Jordan Miller says:

      Thank you for your comment George. I feel that this is a good topic to discuss as we keep seeing so many good galleries in this city close and often its for financial reasons not because someone is retiring from the business. Thank you for your support and kind words. I plan to keep going for as long as my health allows it and that Winnipeg continues to support it! I am currently booking shows for 2021 as one of my many tasks for this week. I’m unable to have a show at my own gallery right now as I’m booked into other galleries for the next two years but am happy to support my gallery when I can. Its good to get out there and support others as well!

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