Are Art Galleries Still Relevant in the Internet Age?
An awful lot has changed for artists since the inception of the Internet. Most notably, artists now have far more options than ever for presenting themselves and their art to the world. Though the traditional gallery system is still in place, galleries no longer control the show the way they once did and for the first time in forever, having gallery representation is not necessarily the best and only way to go for all artists. In spite of all this, way too many artists continue their relentless single-minded quests for gallery representation without even realizing they can now do for themselves pretty much everything that galleries can do for them... and more.
The number one reason for the decline in gallery influence is that artists can now communicate directly with the public and advocate on their own behalves in ways that only galleries could do for them pre-Internet. For the first time in history and in formats that barely even existed only a few years go, artists can now attract thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of followers almost entirely on their own. Back in the old days, art world success used to be all about which handful of galleries had the most money to spend on the largest ads and best positions in major art publications, which handful of galleries the handful of newspaper and magazine art critics visited and chose to anoint as legitimate contenders, and which handful of artists that handful of galleries decided their clienteles should pay attention to. Even though this all still happens, it's not such a big deal anymore. A whole huge fantastic unbelievable exciting ever-evolving new world is now accessible to pretty much all artists and art buyers, and the days of being ruled by the few are long gone. The best news is that the best art is still what attracts the most attention, regardless of where it's being made or shown or who's doing the showing.
Artists can now do practically everything online that galleries once had to do for them, and often in much larger ways. Back in the day, galleries were pretty much the only places where people could buy art. Direct communication between artists and buyers was largely nonexistent. Trying to locate artists was difficult at best, assuming you could find their contact information. And if contact was made, being able to meet and speak with them and see their art was often a logistical nightmare. As for those countless artists who lived outside of major markets, they had hardly any way of letting people know they even existed, let alone showing their art. Today that's all changed. The two primary functions of galleries-- providing artists with exposure for their art and providing collectors and buyers with access to that art-- are no longer necessary or even relevant to doing business as an artist.