Skip to main content

The Deterioration of Art

Deteriorated closed sign

This is not the kind of thing I like to make as a headline, but the world of art is going through challenging times. I think artists everywhere are seeing the shuttering of art galleries.

It’s not easy to watch and there are many reasons for it. In this post, I’m going to list several, as I think these are things artists should be aware of.

Top among them is the decline in traditional retail. Almost all brick and mortar retail is undergoing a market disruption as online retail gains market share. I must be frank folks, as much as I like browsing shops, it has proven for the most part to be an inefficient way of getting most products from manufacture to potential buyers. Anyone who has actually worked in retail realizes the long hours waiting for not just a looker, but a buyer to appear. Online fixes this problem with 24/7 ease, while keeping inventories in check. Yet, while some art is being sold online, I’m sure artists and collectors feel better with art being seen in person. Honestly though, beautiful galleries these days are hard to find.

An aging population comes next. The lion’s share of art is sold these days to what I call the grey, dyed and balding generation.  Yes, I’m tongue in cheek speaking about hair, but I can say this because I’m part of that generation. I probably don’t need to tell you that we baby boomers are pulling back on purchases and downsizing in record numbers. Heck, I’ve been a motorcyclist for over 45 years and the same thing is happening with that industry. The average age of the motorcycle buyer has gotten older and older and now the sales of brands like Harley Davidson are dropping quickly. Currently down nearly 20%.

When people downsize they get rid of things by reselling or giving things to their kids if they’ll take it. So, while the kids can’t afford art, they now are getting it from their parents. The problem is, younger people are looking at Instagram and other things on screens small and large. In fact, the TV which once was a piece of furniture is now flat and hangs in many cases where art once did. It’s also a dynamic experience, with endless amounts of programming.  Art has a serious challenger here.

In the process of this all happening over the past decade or so, art has found it’s way to coffee shops, non-profit auctions, and festivals, pop-up shows, and a host of somewhat non-traditional places. All of these take tiny bits of profits from existing galleries which unfortunately don’t help commercial galleries that have been the backbone of art representation for decades.

Where do we go from here? Well, it’s hard to say. Even in the worst of times, you can find incredible success and I certainly believe this to be the case today. I can share that I had record sales this January, but one month a good year does not make. We are in the business of creativity and creativity is largely what it takes to find solutions for your personal sales. It may be specializing in a style of subject matter.  It may be your outstanding customer service, or social media marketing efforts.  In the end, artists have survived challenges. It’s in our DNA. Knowing there is a challenge is the first way to tackle it.

Live an artful life!


Read more on the business of art:

The Currency of Meeting People

Plant Your Seeds