Today it is easier than ever to access and buy art, particularly online. With artists themselves having websites, online only art spaces and the growing presence of NFTs many of the traditional barriers to purchasing art have been crushed.
Yet galleries continue to have an important role in the access and growth of art. Galleries, such as Quirky Fox, provide important exposure for both emerging and established artists - they allow you, the viewer, to be exposed to a range of artists and styles in a single space and allow artists to display their art to the "real world".
It is easy to believe that by buying directly from the artist instead of through a gallery you are supporting the artist but what about the wider effect this has on the art community? How does buying and supporting an art gallery benefit the art community instead of a single artist?
By supporting and buying art through a gallery you help the art community grow. Galleries are always on the lookout for new talent. For an emerging artist, a gallery provides the ideal platform to expose their work to a larger audience. This exposure can help an artist gain a following and generate sales. Good galleries will always clearly identify the artist's they work with and while this may make it easier to google the artist and buy direct from them it reduces the chance of other artists gaining exposure and an audience. It can also limited artist's access to a support network.
Most galleries are highly supportive of their artists and act as a vital touchstone to their artists in an isolating career. They are invested in the growth and development of their artists and are in the unique position to offer honest feedback to their artists informed by not own their only opinion but that of their customers. Most curators genuinely care about the artists they work with and will develop a partnership that benefits both parties.
In addition to this support being in a gallery allows artists to connect with one another. Whether it is through a group show or general representation, artists can use that common element to connect with other artists whether that's by meeting at openings or over social media.
Galleries allow artists the time to focus on their art. Running an exhibition, promoting artwork, working with customers, packing and shipping artwork all takes time away from creating. Without creating new work an artist has limited earning potential. Time (and money) spent creating and maintaining a website, particularly for an emerging artist, can be a massive drain without guaranteed results. Galleries help remove some of these burdens so artists have the time and mental space to create.
Galleries provide new opportunities for artists. It is surprising how often once an artist has found representation in one gallery other galleries follow. This allows the artist to reach a large audience who is already interested in purchasing an artwork. Artists are also more likely to gain commissions if people have seen the physical result of their artwork, galleries enable these transactions. For some artists having a deadline such as an exhibition provides the motivation they need to create a cohesive series of work.
It is not just the artist and the art community that benefits from the support of galleries. Galleries, regardless of what form they take, can act as a sanctuary to the viewer from the rest of the world. Whether you are a child or an adult, galleries can expose you to different ideas, different points of views and different worlds. They can be a break from your everyday routine and a place to just "be" for a moment.
Finding one particular artist you enjoy is extremely hard online, there are millions of artists trying to get their art into homes and on to walls. The quality and execution of these works can vary greatly. A gallery is carefully curated to show a selection of artists whose work meets a certain standard.
Galleries allow you to see the scale, texture and colour of works. While every effort is made online to represent art to its true potential nothing can replace the opportunity to interact with art in real life. Galleries that have both a physical and online presence give you the reassurance that works will be of a high standard and accurately represented.
As a gallery gets to know you and your taste many will be able to give you advance notice of new works or new artists that may be of interest.
Gallery staff are passionate about art, most will welcome the chance to discuss an artwork or an artist with you. They will know and be able to explain the techniques and mediums used in a work, explain symbolism and more. They will know the artist and their background and be able to give you an insight to them.
Supporting and buying art through a gallery helps both artists, the art community and the community at large so next time you see a work in a gallery and get tempted to contact the artist directly take a moment to think about how by supporting that gallery you are supporting not just one artist but the art community as a whole.