Anti-Marketing: Making It Seem As Though
You Don’t Really Need to Sell
Why the Art World Fails on the Web
To understand the methodology behind most contemporary art marketing on the Web and in other digital formats you must first understand both the origin of the concept of “digital” and the passive-aggressive relationship the art world has to marketing in general.
As art is concerned primarily with “making”, the use of the term digital is somewhat ironic when referring to electronic media since the very act of using the hand is removed from the act of creation, and subjugated to being a medium, a bridge between the mind and the electronic apparatus one is utilizing.
That we use the term “digital” today to refer to media like computer technology, the Internet or electronic photography made with pixels is in itself problematic and a sign that we have lost touch with the biological implications of creativity. When it comes to marketing, contemporary art galleries, collectors, museums and even curators/critics retain an ambiguous, almost defensive approach to the ethos of communication online.
From Art-Making to Marketing Art: The Evolution of the “Digital”
It all comes back to the relationship between numbers and fingers. For, the “digital” as an over-used, nearly banal word that implies something technological, is a term that speaks to the use of our fingers to count and the use of numbers, binary code or otherwise, to code software. Its etymology is tied to the human body.
But where does this leave contemporary art with regards to digital Marketing (Web, Email, Social Media)?
As I explored the relationship between web design, digital marketing and the art world as both an artist and a branding theorist I became more convinced than ever that most artists, galleries and the contemporary art world as a culture view the Web and the Net with something resembling contempt, even outright hostility.
How else to explain the vapid, obsolete, poorly-conceived attempts at web design and the utter lack of sophisticated online branding in contemporary art today?
The New Art World: Global Markets and The Web as Meeting Place
As an artist I saw the web as an inexpensive way to show my work to the public, back in 1995. In those days just having a website put you in the tech avant-garde.
Today a website is a requirement for any business or individual who cares even remotely about communicating with the world at-large and his/her community in more specific ways.
It is no longer hip, cool, or desirable to avoid having a website if you are a contemporary art gallery.
Not having a website or having a badly conceived web page simply makes you look retrograde. The business of contemporary art can no longer avoid the relevance of the Web with the onset of globalism and international buying audiences continuing at an unprecedented motion.
The Relationship Between Art, Marketing and Creativity
In the not-too-distant past it was a posture, a conscious choice to avoid looking well-crafted, intentional and even thorough in one’s marketing campaigns within the gallery system. As a result, the sales of many artists were not fully optimized and savvy secondary sales dealers were able to usurp blue chip galleries when it came to selling works by big name and more youthful artists.
Between sophisticated social media campaigns and elegantly crafted web design, contemporary art professionals can have the best of both worlds: a sophisticated online marketing campaign that retains the preciousness, the elusiveness and the mysterious tenor associated with the value and elitist semiotics they seek. But it takes the right branding theorists, the right designers and the right writers who know the psychology of the art world, the art cognoscenti, to pull this off.