Visual Art in the Internet Age

written on April 3, 2009

I see six major consequences of the Internet Age to the World of Visual Art. They are:
  • exposure of individual artists
  • interaction of various artists
  • smaller significance of galleries
  • smaller significance of mediums
  • greater significance of visual quality
  • young people's perception of art.
I would like to touch on each briefly below.

Just like in other professions, there have always been artists who could "sell" themselves and those who couldn't, regardless of their talent or the quality of their work. The internet provides a more efficient way of exposing oneself to the world at large. As I have seen with some other artists, hard work both in their art and in their marketing, generally translates into monetary gain and recognition. But there are also those artists who do little for their own exposure and only concentrate on the quality of their work, and sit around waiting for a miracle to bring them recognition. Then there are those who are good at "selling" themselves, but lack quality. 20th century art was run by those people, but they will soon lose their prominence as I describe below.

To continue with the most elevating effect of the internet - at least for me personally - it has brought us the chance to explore and interact. I think it is a wonderful feeling to know that we are not alone in "that" art world. For me the Energy Art Movement is a culmination of this effect, and I can't imagine doing anything that I would be more motivated by when it comes to meeting and promoting genuine artists. I also enjoy meeting young talent, especially on Deviantart. Exploring fellow artists' work, one also gets a good idea of where to improve.

The chance of promoting one's work and interacting with others, adds up to an opposing force to the significance of galleries. Not that they necessarily need to be opposed, it is just an unavoidable consequence. I don't believe that physical commercial galleries will disappear anytime soon though. But it is certain that artists' websites and online marketplaces - for both originals and prints - will be the dominating method of sales in art in the very near future. The people are finding it more and more absurd to visit galleries in person, and instead of traveling they just browse their websites and order online. The same is true for individual artists. So the future will be all about how good you and your work looks on the internet. I also see more and more artist collectives forming, which means artists are realizing that together they stand a greater chance than alone.

As a consequence of the above, the medium in which your artwork was made, will become less significant as well, since only its "image" on the internet and the presentation of it on your website is going to matter. People will buy more and more of their art on the internet, so they will turn to buying prints, besides shopping at marketplaces like Ebay or Etsy for original art. So artists must keep this already occuring transitions in mind, and stay ahead of the wave.

Again as a consequence, the quality and impression of the "image" of the artwork is going to gain greater prominence. The new "judges" of the art world are not the collectors or the gallery owners anymore, but the general public and the young kids on Deviantart. They will soon grow up and with the real art in mind that they saw and collected online, they will sweep aside all the overeducated nonsense of the 20th century, simply by their freedom of choice what to buy, again online. New York is already feeling the transition, and attempts to react by infusing more and more hyper/academic/neo-realism into their repertoire, but even that is not going to work. It is mere backward evolution and a weak attempt. Dalí was right in saying that the art of the future is surrealism, but only an artist or appreciator who has genuine artistic sense, can "see" why.

Young people's perception of art will soon spring forth from their own inner self-confidence. Everyone is born with some level of genuine artistic sense, which later on gets overridden by the opinions/choices/dictation of artists/galleries/collectors and other "respectable" figures who they so far lacked confidence to question. But since children interested in art, will now grow up in an art-saturated internet environment, they will inherently develop confidence in their own opinions, which is founded on their true natural inner artistic sense that cannot mislead them. Whether they will prefer lighter or darker art, they will seek out quality work. And this effect is true for everyone, not just artistically-talented children.

So anyone who has created quality art up to now and from now on, will have a much greater chance to be fairly appreciated by some segment of the public. But we as artists must not forget that our duty lies not only in depicting our visions to the best of our abilities, but also in delivering it to the public through as many channels as we can manage. Self-promotion coupled with talent is not a vice but a virtue. The quality that one strives for, should be interrelated with the confidence one has to promote oneself.